Lowly Bangladesh give the West Indies a lifeline
By Colin E. Croft
Former West Indies fast bowler
April 9, 2007
WONDER of all wonders, the West Indies cricket team has been handed a lifeline, not due to its own team efforts, but by the efforts of the ‘Boys from Bangladesh’, who, I might remind all, have done exactly as I had continually suggested, even as they qualified for the Super 8, they would have done; they beat another highly-rated team, this time the No.1-rated team in the world, South Africa.
The South Africans were strangled by the orthodox leg-spin of Mohammed Raffique, Abdur Razzaq and Saquib al Hussein.
Considering that Bangladesh have recently beaten Australia, New Zealand, India, now South Africa, and way back in 1999, Pakistan, there only remain the West Indies and England, of the supposedly better teams, that they have not yet beaten.
That is still possible. In beating the over-rated South Africans by 67 runs the game was not close!
At the time this article is being written, the West Indies have still to play South Africa in Grenada, then both Bangladesh and England, in Barbados.
By Bangladesh having won against South Africa, they have created a space for the stuttering West Indies and England; the latter still have to play Bangladesh, South Africa and the West Indies.
Several scenarios could be unfolding. South Africa can lose all of their remaining games, to go home, complaining as they always do, when they lose. It is never their team’s fault.
Bangladesh could win all of their remaining three games and go to the semi-finals, or either England or the West Indies could win all of their three remaining games, and either team, based on run rate, would go to the semi-finals.
By the way, the rest of the almost certain semi-finalists would probably be all-conquering Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Delicious, wonderful cricket, cricket with enthusiasm is still at the offing!
But what of the West Indies cricket team and their chances? I ask again: Do you think that, based on the recent performances only, especially the one in the Sri Lankan game, that the West Indies deserve what the team have been handed - a chance to go further in the competition? Think about it very objectively, please! I will need your answers in at least 100 000 words, or more, without of course, the extensive, ubiquitous swearing!
That performance against Sri Lanka on All Fools Day, April 1 last, was as weak and disorganised as I have seen the West Indies cricket team, and I have been around the world following them since 1994.
It certainly was no joke! It was really putrid and the beating, by 113 runs, did not even come relatively close to telling the full story of the game. It was as if the Sri Lankans might have been playing by themselves, so ‘zombie-fied’ did the West Indies seem. The West Indies looked more like Dracula looking in a mirror!
Even before that fatal game against Sri Lanka, the West Indies’ practice session was something to behold, or perhaps not to. It was as lack-lustre as ever, with players even complaining that the sun was too hot! Are these people for real? This is cricket, right?
As if that was not enough, the team then separates, and everyone, almost, goes his own way, for a short rest. Rest from what, I wonder? My old pal, Joel Garner, and the former team captain, Richie Richardson, are correct. Something is very seriously wrong here.
Now, I do not blame the players for what they have managed to get away with. If you give anyone an inch, he or she would try to get a mile. That is normal professional life. The West Indies players, all of them, know that and have managed to get many miles ahead of the West Indies Cricket Board and the people put in charge of the players.
I put the entire blame of the West Indies players’ not seeming to care, on the team’s management including Clive Lloyd, the present manager and the rest of the WICB.
I actually think that the managerial people who have been put in charge of the team have become more like the team, as opposed to the team becoming more in tune with the whims and edicts of the manager and management team! Everyone is looking after his own welfare, but no-one seems ready to be responsible for the whole cock-up!
This has happened in the past, so, unfortunately, this is not unprecedented! Stay with me here, please. I will explain. By the way, for those who could remember, do you recall the debacles of England in 1995, when Wes Hall was the manager, and that of South Africa, 1998, when unfortunately, Clive Lloyd was again manager? I hope so! I do!
I actually felt a bit of sorrow for Brian Lara, if you can imagine that, during the game against Sri Lanka. He seemed genuinely to be embarrassed and concerned about the team’s play.
However, he tried, though he could not lift them from the floor. Could it be that great retribution is stepping back in? Normally, what you sow, that you also reap!
Instead of trying to work on their respective games, trying to sort out what they should be doing correctly to get to the semi-finals, the team was allowed to disband; to go to a rest.
Easter is a great season, but I did not hear of anyone coming home for Christmas when they were overseas. If that is so, then expect an exodus from South Africa this year end.
Have you noticed that Bangladesh, who would have come from the furthest distance to be at this CWC 2007, have not played like they want to go home? India, who came from the second longest distance away from the Caribbean, are still smarting, since the players really wanted to be here.
Australia, another set of long-distance travellers, are everyone’s favourites for at least semi-final place. Indeed, no-one seems to want to play against them, while their Tasman neighbours, New Zealand, are like the Guyana crocodile, waiting!
There are many rumours being spread in Guyana as to why the West Indies played so very poorly against the Sri Lankans, not the least that some of the members of the West Indies cricket team were seen out late, or very early, depending on your way of thought, at some Georgetown nightspot or the other, until the early hours of the day of the game.
Some were even seen at the airport. I do not know that these are true, so no comment there.
What I do know is that, on two occasions, the West Indies cricket team have ignored the very people that they have asked to help them; the supporters.
On the way into Guyana, the players were met by the press and other dignitaries. These were totally ignored. Indeed, it is reputed to have been asked of the captain, Brian Lara, about this situation. His comment was that he did not know that he was supposed to have been available.
As if to compound things, the set of players who went to Grenada after the Sri Lankan debacle also ignored the people who had come out to welcome them to the Spice Island.
Again, I would ask this simply: Are these guys operating as if they represent us, or is it that they resent us all, since their behaviour does not suggest that we, the supporters, are their friends?
Are they getting away with this because the management is so weak, or is it that the management team is being managed by Brian Lara and the cricket team itself?
The West Indies players, based on published information, are each being paid something along the lines of between US$100 000 and US$175 000, to play in this ICC CWC 2007. I am very pleased for them, since I have always advocated that all cricket players should be paid in accordance with the entertainment that they provide, regardless of the result. Indeed, when you provide entertainment for more than one billion people, as any team is doing in the CWC 2007 then they should be paid accordingly.
I wonder how much the tremendously talented, and lacking in fear, Bangladeshis, are being paid. They embarrassed the supposedly mighty South Africans at a canter. Complacency must have been the South African curse, as none of the bowlers, except the aggressive Andre Nel, seemed ready to do the business at hand. The Proteas were so flat!
Bangladesh, on the other hand, especially the batsmen, even before their spinners eventually choked the South Africans, played like men possessed, as it is, with such young men, that the names of Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini may not have come into the lexicon.
The Bangladeshis certainly play as if reputations do not count. Tamim Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Musrafe Ben Mortaza, and especially the “old man”, at only age 22, Mohammed Ashraful, showed how it should be done; cannily and craftily.
It should be noted that it is not any players’ fault that they are, firstly, selected, even though they really should not have been in the team in the first place or, secondly, that they should not be paid, since they are not performing as they should, since being selected.
Those selections and team consistency errors have to fall at the feet of the West Indies Cricket Board and the region’s senior team cricket selectors, not the players.
No-one has the right to say that, for example, Dwayne Smith, the failure that he has been, should not be paid, or that he does not deserve his fee. He did not select himself! Three supposedly wise men - Andy Roberts, Gordon Greenidge and Clyde Butts, selected him.