After West Indies lost to Zimbabwe and Netherlands in the 2023 ODI World Cup Qualifier, fans reacted around the world. Here are my honest thoughts on the state of West Indian cricket.
Events That Have Transpired During the 2023 ODI World Cup Qualifiers
West Indies are on the brink of exiting from the 2023 ODI World Cup Qualifiers.
First of all, let us not take anything away from Zimbabwe and Netherlands (as well as Scotland & Sri Lanka from the other group), who have been playing excellent cricket. Today, Logan Van Beek produced a Super Over performance of the ages, hitting 30 runs and taking two wickets.
However, West Indies has been below par. From dropped catches and misfields to over rate penalties, no ball calls, mindless bowling changes, and questionable strategies, things have not quite gone right for West Indies.Embed from Getty Images
West Indies Cricket – Recent Results
Over the last five years, though, they have descended into further depths. The West Indies cricket team
- Failed to qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy
- Had to go through the 2018 ODI World Cup qualification
- Performed shambolically at the 2019 ODI World Cup (won only 2/9)
- Crashed out of the 2021 T20 World Cup Super 12 stage (won only 1/5)
- Failed to get out of the first round itself in the 2022 T20 World Cup (won only 1/3)
- Their fortunes in Test cricket wasn’t great either. In the latest edition of the World Test Championship, they ended up 8th/9th, winning 4 Tests & drawing 2 out of 13. They had similar fortunes in the inaugural edition of the WTC as well (won 3, drew 2, ended 8th/9th).
Their fortunes continued to plummet in the ODI Super League, where they only won 9 out of the 24 ODI matches. The men’s side are currently ranked 7th in T20I cricket, 8th in Test cricket, and 10th in ODI cricket. The women are ranked 6th each in T20I and ODI. If you have only won 7 Tests and 4 World Cup matches over the past 5 years, then there is plenty of room to introspect.
To make matters worse, Deandre Dottin retired controversially due to ‘team environment‘, the women’s team lost 15 straight games in T20I, and Devon Thomas was suspended on the basis of corruption.Embed from Getty Images
Fall from Grace for West Indies Cricket
This isn’t the first time we are talking about the ‘Downfall of West Indies cricket,’ is it? Since the late nineties and early 2000s, they have faced a steady decline.
West Indies cricket used to produce the likes of Lord Baron Constantine, Sir Conrad Hunte, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Lance Gibbs, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Sir Clive Lloyd, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, George Headley, Malcolm Marshall, Brian Lara, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Alvin Kallicharan, Rohan Kanhai, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Carl Hooper, Lawrence Rowe, Roy Fredericks, Vanburn Holder, Sir Charlie Griffith, Jackie Hendricks, Colin Croft, and Ian Bishop.
They still produce individual talent like Hetmyer, Pooran, and Hope, but it just does not feel the same anymore.
Every cricket fan is a West Indies cricket fan. The flair that the Caribbean brings to cricket is second to none. Folklore of the West Indian greats, the menacing fast bowling units, the dominating power of cricket.
Where has it all gone?
Questions Need to be Asked – Is Enough Being Done?
And it is not as if West Indies cricket hasn’t taken any actions.
There were new elections for the president, vice-president, and directors of different WI member boards.
The West Indies Cricket Board appointed interim coaches for both the men’s & women’s teams. They made a decision to separate white ball & red ball coaches, which is the right choice in the current age of franchise cricket. The organization made new appointments on the selection panel. A new domestic red-ball competition and a Women’s Cricket Transformation committee was announced.
World Cup winning captain, Daren Sammy, became the white-ball head coach, while the likes of Samuel Badree, Carl Hooper, Floyd Reifer, and James Franklin took positions as coaching staff members. They even brough Brian Lara in as performance mentor, And that’s not all – captaincy has changed hands, and a new director of cricket will be announced as Jimmy Adams’ tenure is approaching an end.
Lots of movement from the administration all the way down to the players, but will it be enough?
Sammy has returned with an idealistic hope of recalling the likes of Narine, Hetmyer, and Russell back to the national fold, but only time will tell.Embed from Getty Images
How Long Can the Fans Keep Hope?
I may just be overreacting. After all, these twin defeats came on the back of 8 consecutive victories (5 ODI, 2 Warm-Ups, 1 T20Is) and the charismatic Darren Sammy has just taken charge.
West Indies cricket fans can still take some hope from Afghanistan’s 2018 World Cup qualifier experience. Afghanistan was in a similar situation then but made an improbable comeback (also thanks to the rain Gods) and qualified for the 2019 ODI World Cup.
West Indies can still qualify with certain permutations going their way, but what have we learned? West Indies are no longer in the upper echelons of cricket or even mid-tier.
Sure, a Carlos Brathwaite magic moment, a Pooran innings, a Hope classic, or a Joseph hat-trick can win West Indies a few games here and there, but where is West Indies’ fortunes going in the long run?
When all seems to fail, West Indies produce tournament performances of champions – 2004 Champions Trophy, 2012 T20 World Cup, and 2016 T20 World Cup. 2016 U-19 World Cup. 2016 Women’s World Cup, but this time just feels different.
We can criticize franchise cricket and the IPL for all we like, but the Gayles, Bravos, and Pollards were product of this system and won the West Indies a couple of T20 World Cups. The Caribbean continues to produce exciting talent, no doubt. But they no longer produce great teams.
The transition is happening and something needs to change. Change very quickly that is.Embed from Getty Images
Legacy of West Indies Cricket at Stake
Legacy of West Indies cricket is at stake. West Indies cricket as a whole is at stake.
Who knows, if the downfall continues, we may not even see the West Indies. We may, instead, see Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and Windward Islands competing as separate nations.
The golden era of the last century is long gone. The great era of the 70s is gone. Even the time of Lara-Chanderpaul-Ambrose-Walsh is gone.
All that is left is memories.
I just hope that West Indies cricket does not end up becoming just a memory.
Also Read: Which 10 Teams Play in the ODI World Cup Qualifier?, Top 50 Greatest West Indies Cricketers of All Time: The Complete List (2023), Top 5 Greatest Cricket Teams Ever To Be Assembled, 155 Greatest Cricketers of All Time (Men’s): Who Is the King of Cricket? (Updated 2023)
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