Drastic changes necessary for WI

Orin Davidson's Eye on Sports
Stabroek News
February 11, 2001

The pain is finally over.

It was like a prolonged tooth extraction without anaesthetic and West Indian cricket fanatics have finally completed one of their most dreadful associations with any tour made by the regional team.

This was a tour like no other as West Indies were pathetic in most departments of the game. The batting, bowling fielding and most importantly, the captaincy, were abominable and led to a five-nil trouncing in the Test series and a 6-0 thrashing in the limited overs series, all to Australia. Granted that the present squad is one of the most efficient teams ever produced from the country Down Under, the humiliation bestowed on West Indies, is downright unacceptable, although they are rebuilding.

No West Indian team has left these shores and returned to the region being whipped in all their matches, Test, one-day internationals and state games.

It is with this ignominious distinction the world is viewing the West Indies team who should be grateful to the Australia Cricket Board for inviting Zimbabwe for the three-way Carlton one-day series, as without the Africans' presence the regional team could have completed a full tour without winning a single international game.

Three wins over Zimbabwe against one loss averted the dreaded cypher on tour and even though the team gave some hope with a bright batting performance in the last match of the finals, our losing streak continued.

It remains a fact that the conditions at Melbourne were tailor- made for batting on a pitch of favourable pace and bounce and a lightening fast outfield. And Australia maintained their superiority as has been the case throughout the tour by out-batting West Indies.

This last grasp performance therefore should not blind the West Indies Cricket Board selectors from objective thinking and detract from drastic personnel changes when the teams are named for the upcoming series against South Africa.

In the absence of the injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul and retired Carl Hooper, the batting, which for years now has been a grave liability of the team, was even weaker. The bowling for ever long efficiently capable, degenerated into inept incompetence in the absence of retiree Curtly Ambrose and to a lesser extent, the injured Reon King, an inspiration in the recent series against New Zealand, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

The leadership which has been less than imaginative under Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara, dipped several notches lower under Jimmy Adams, who along with fellow tour selectors Roger Harper and Jeff Dujon contributed to the wholesale disaster with some bewildering team selections.

This team needs an injection of capable batsmanship most importantly and Hooper, back from retirement, is making it pellucidly clear that there is no better capable batsman than himself, needed to help bring this squad to life.

His list of growing accomplishments in the Busta Cup is way beyond comparison by any other player in the competition.

Six hundred and fifty eight runs from eight innings for a staggering average of 94 so far is more than anyone can ask from a player who desires a return to international competition to help a demoralised team.

Add that phenomenal batting display to 13 wickets for a bowling average of 24 from the said five matches and brilliant captaincy which happens to be a key factor in his inexperienced squad holding down joint second position from a field of eight teams, in the points table, and you have a player who should be coveted by the WICB for the South Africa series.

Adams has tried his best but it just was not good enough and it makes little sense in retaining him for the upcoming series.

He earned his place in the Test team for his batting ability back in 1992 and after a brilliant start which attained him a Test average of 60 in 1994, it has declined steadily to 41 presently.

West Indies presently cannot afford a player whose batting has degenerated to a sorrowful average of 18 runs per innings in the five match test series in Australia.

Adams needs a break from top flight competition as his compatriot and former Test player Easton McMorris rightfully suggested recently. The pressure has made his game a wreck and South Africa will not be in a condescending mood. They are as ruthlessly capable as the Australians. Thus it would be best for Adams to rehabilitate in less combative competition in Jamaica and work his way up back.

At the same time the talent displayed by Samuels, Sarwan and Hinds in Australia must be allowed to bloom.

The team needs them just as much as it desires a good captain and allrounder in Hooper, who is showing the world he can thrive with responsibility.

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