Winless West Indies head for new low
By Tony Lawrence
April 18, 2001
LONDON, England (Reuters) - West Indian cricket has got used to nadirs. This week should provide yet another.
Failure to win the fifth and final Test against South Africa in Jamaica starting tomorrow - the series is already lost - will see the once-mighty men from the Caribbean end their 2000-01 season without a single Test win.
Defeat would condemn them to the pitiful record of: Played 10, lost eight, drawn two, won not a jot.
Only two other sides have failed to win during the same period and the comparison will double the pain - they were Zimbabwe, who gained Test status in 1992, and Bangladesh, who joined the fold last year and lost their solitary maiden Test against India in November.
The West Indian decline since the glorious 1970s and 1980s has been slow but steady, masked only by occasional flashes of brilliance from the likes of Brian Lara and the evergreen Courtney Walsh.
The 1997 tour to Pakistan under Walsh may have been abysmal - 3-0 whitewashes in both Tests and one-dayers - and the 1998-99 tour to South Africa, previewed by a players' rebellion over pay, may have been a horror show - 5-0 in the Tests, 6-1 in the one-dayers.
But there were always such jewels as Lara's world record 375 against England in 1994 or the 2-2 home Test series draw with Australia in 1999, again courtesy of Lara who had innings of 213, 153 not out and 100 in consecutive matches.
Lara, however, is no longer the batsman he was while the 37-year-old Walsh's 500th Test wicket last month, in the second Test in Port of Spain, raised smiles only fleetingly before speculation began again over his retirement date.
Carl Hooper, the West Indies' third captain in 14 months who was appointed after the 5-0 whitewash in Australia under Jimmy Adams, concedes that the team face "a very slow and painful process" in coming seasons.
Many - Lara included - would argue that it has been painful to watch the team for years.
Lara quit as skipper in February last year, citing the "devastating failures that have engulfed West Indies cricket". Former great fast bowler Michael Holding, meanwhile, has washed his hands of the team altogether, refusing to commentate on their games.
The West Indians, who will have lost 11 out of 14 Tests if they succumb in Kingston, do not even have the consolation of one-day success, a discipline which gave them World Cup trophies in 1975 and 1979.
This season, they have won three times in 11 appearances. Their three wins all came against Zimbabwe.
It is bad enough that South Africa, their final opponents of the season, are in contrast challenging Australia for the title of the world's best side.
South Africa have already won two Test series and drawn a third on the way to winning seven and losing just one of 13 Tests. Shaun Pollock's side have also won 16 of their 23 one-dayers.
Perhaps it would not be so bad if the West Indians were still serving up that unique brand of Calypso cricket which defined the sides of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.
But they are not.
In Bridgetown, tailender Dinanth Ramnarine saved the third Test against South Africa by blatant time-wasting, wandering around 20 metres away from his crease between deliveries and then collapsing in apparent agony.
The West Indies trainer bent over the player's prone body, then sprayed pain-killer on to his boot.
As images go, it does not get more pathetic than that.
West Indies Test results, 2000-01 season:
Away v Australia:
First Test, Brisbane, Nov. 23-25: Australia won by an innings and 126 runs.
Second Test, Perth, Dec. 1-3: Australia won by an innings and 27 runs.
Third Test, Adelaide, Dec. 15-19: Australia won by 5 wickets.
Fourth Test, Melbourne, Dec. 26-29: Australia won by 352 runs
Fifth Test, Sydney, Jan. 2-6: Australia won by 6 wickets.
Australia won 5-0.
Home v South Africa:
First Test, Georgetown, March 9-13: Match drawn.
Second Test, Port of Spain, March 17-21: South Africa won by 69 runs.
Third Test, Bridgetown, March 29-April 2: Match drawn.
Fourth Test, St John's, April 6-10: South Africa won by 82 runs.