By Dyon Ravello
With many die-hards realizing the slight improvement, West Indies continue along that long dark road better known as failure. Yes Shiv continues to be a sturdy fortification in the batting line up, with support coming from Samuels, Ramdin, Bravo and Barath at the top, yet it remaining insufficient.  We have batsmen continuously failing innings after innings all season spaning back to the recently concluded series against the Aussies. The clouds over Lord’s may have been less grey if Powell and Kirk Edward had made amends for the first innings fault and contributed to the second innings resilience to have the fifth day ending in a different complexion.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy (foreground to the left) makes an unsuccessful appeal for lbw against England batsman Jonny Bairstow. Photo: windiescricket.com

I can remember while I Queen’s Park Cricket Club, former Test pacer Dillon mentioned, that the batsmen won’t giving the bowlers any sort of runs to defend. The scenario in particular was South Africa’s 5 nil drubbing of the Caribbean side in a series where the Proteas score in excess of 500 in almost each fixture. This leads one to think cricket is 11 v. 11 and if the batting side could only must 150, 175 it would be the duty of the bowling attack to restrict the opponents below those totals rather than complaint that the total was not enough. England bowled out for 51 at Sabina a series in which the Maroon men fought tooth and nail to maintain the lead and eventual win the series back in 2009. Actual that was the last time WICB beat anyone ranked above them in Test. Rolling back the years Ambi and Co. bowling out Andy Fowler’s Zimbabwe for 63 defending 99 at the Queens Park Oval in 2000.That’s why its called Test Cricket there are no fielding restriction, on over limitations a true test, not only of talent and skill, but of character and mental aptitude.

Trent Bridge presents the world number with another opportunity to fine tune their engine before the real test in South Africa, and Strauss will want Sammy and Co. to continue to bring the “A-Game.” However there are many dilemmas which continue to plague the once crowd pleasing unit of the 70′s into the mid 90′s. The top order remains unresolved even with the sparkles shown by the youth talents. Many would have thought Gayle’s 333 in late 2010 against Sri Lanka had secured the opening position with some stability. Then came IPL, Gibson, Radio Shows all of which have contributed to the fraility of the top order. Ronnie Sarwan had been seasoned at number 3 barring injury which eventual cost him his role at the team leader. How different things may have been if Sarwan was able to lead the Windies for an extended period like Gayle or incumbent Sammy.

The travails continue as Shiv has stood the ultimate test of time, Samuels continues to look a renewed player since his ban with Kirk and Darren Bravo showing that they are key to the West Indian recovery but the must managed properly. Our bowling is a far cry from the 500 plus totals of yesteryear with Kemar Roach developing into a gallant leader but he too needs to manage his work load to ensure longevity. Ravi Rampaul, Shane Shillingford, Shannon Gabriel, and to a less extent Fidel Edwards as well as Tino Best combine with the ability to support Roach in bowling out the opposition twice.  As for Fidel I am reserved as he has not been the same player since returning from Big Bash earlier this year. Then come Darren Sammy, a personality who continues to work on his individual game, a marked influence as captain, and ever positive. However Sammy’s role in the Test team still continues to leave a lot to be desired. He is not a match winning bowler day in day out, and his batting is not honed sufficiently to omitted a specialist up the order.

Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell are more suitable candidates for the all-rounder role. But then IPL comes into play, its glitz, the glamour and off course its gold. WICB remain mum on the issue of losing players to the IPL, it so much seems as its part of their agenda. To speculate the WICB are willing to sacrifice its finer talents for a “Gibson Agenda” or any other peculiar reason. The strange scenario is that IPL has not been given distinct place on the ICC calendar in addition to West Indies being the most, if not only team daunted by the Indian T20 extravaganza. Can WICB not source, and present a package to attract adequate financing in order to keep our talents at home when needed especially against ana Australian team who whipped the Indians 4 nil and the world Number 1 English.

KP not Pietersen but Pollard, has at times mentioned his interest to play at the Test Level, and he has backed these statement with two ODI hundreds in close succession. One can only wander if he continues in the same vain if he will get his chance now some five years in international cricket. In sum the Caribbean Administration, needs to discontinue its archaic attitude of isolating players, and keep them close, in touch,  still believing. The talent is abundant but the system continues to fail its numerous flaws. With Sarwan and Nash scoring runs in England and not under consideration, the batting should not be the problem. The pool of West Indian players is more than sufficient to beat any side in the world but we need to plan to utilize our resources to succeed.

Looking forward to see what cards will, Gib and Sam play come Test #2 at the Bridge.

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