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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bangladesh tours of New Zealand & Sri Lanka review.
It seemed that instead of a complete tour, Bangladesh played several small series over the last few months. The Tigers played 3-match ODI & T20I series in New Zealand, then a 2-match Test series in Sri Lanka, followed by 3 ODIs at home against the same opposition.
The last couple of months can be summed up with a disappointment for Bangladesh but some positive news at the end for the currently #1 ranked team in the ODI Super League. Good finds by the Kiwis and Lankans as well.
There were numerous moments in this Bangladesh tours of New Zealand & Sri Lanka. Here are the major takeaways.
Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, & Daryl Mitchellsolidified their places during this tour
After his Test ton against Pakistan, Mitchell scored 100* (92) in the 3rd ODI, pushing New Zealand to 318/6. Quickfire 34* (16) in the rain-curtailed 2nd T20I as well. It is a shame that he is not a regular due to the rich presence of Colin de Grandhomme & Mitchell Santner.
Devon Conway has now conquered Test cricket with a double century at Lord’s, but before that his debut ODI series against Bangladesh included a fifty and a maiden century—126 in the 3rd ODI. Highest scorer in both the ODI & T20I series and donned the gloves as well.
Glenn Phillips finished the first T20I with a blistering 24* (10) along with a 58* (23) in the 2nd T20I, rescuing NZ from 55-3 in 6.1 overs to 173/5 in 17.5 overs.
New Zealand are now unearthing fast bowlers & youngsters at an alarming rate. Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Blundell & Devon Conway have all performed in the past season, and the Kiwis can now add Finn Allen & Will Young to that list after the T20I series.
Prior to the T20I series, Will Young had a total of 60 runs in 2 Tests & 2 ODIs. He announced himself with 53 (30) with four sixes in the first T20I to cement his place in the T20I squad for the near future.
Finn Allen’s blistering 71* (29) was an innings of a lifetime. 10 fours, 3 sixes, and an 85 run partnership with Martin Guptill in just 5.4 overs. The Kiwis ended with 141/4 in a ten-over game. Bangladesh?—76 all out.
The return of Martin Guptill & Tim Southee
In Williamson’s absence, Latham captained the ODI series while Tim Southee took the T20I reigns. Latham justified his selection with a match winning 110* (108) in a successful 272 run-chase.
With youngsters knocking on the doors, several questions on the seniors. Ross Taylor is already out of the T20I squad with the influx of talent, and Guptill & Southee were under the scanner.
After the successful Australia series, Guptill responded with scores of 38, 20, 26, 35, 21, & 44 in this series. Does not look ultra-impressive but strike rates of 200.00, 83.33, 92.85, 129.62, 116.66, & 231.57 were exactly the kind of starts New Zealand expect from Guptill. Needs to convert soon though.
Southee’s 3/15 in the 3rd T20I removed any hope for Bangladesh’s chase. Ended as the highest wicket-taker in the T20I series and now performing in the England Tests. 2nd wind for the 32 year old?
Anyway, these were just the major moments. Comeback for Adam Milne along with good outings for Jimmy Neesham, Todd Astle (4/13), Ish Sodhi (4/28), Matt Henry (4/27), Lockie Ferguson.
Batting, Youngsters, & Overseas Victories a Concern For Bangladesh
From March 20th to May 23rd, Bangladesh lost 6 consecutive matches in New Zealand & lost the Test series 0-1 in Sri Lanka. Over the two Tests, Bangladesh were on the field for 4-5 days, which contributed to mental fatigue. These overseas series really hurt Bangladesh’s confidence, and even though they finally won the home ODI series that followed, they did not play well according to captain Tamim Iqbal.
Apart from the 2nd ODI & 2nd T20I against NZ, Bangladesh’s score read 131/10 (41.5), 154/10 in 42.4 (after being 8/102), 6/59 (7.5), & 76/10 (9.3). In the Sri Lanka ODI series, Rahim-Mahmudlluah rescued Bangaldesh from 99/4 (22.6), 74/4 (15.4), and 84/4 in 23.2 (en route 189/10). Top order issues galore.
19,0, 21, 0, 4, 6,0, 0, 25 read Liton Das’ limited overs scores – 4 ducks. Test scores of 50, 8 & 17 not much better. I really hope Liton Das has a Rohit Sharma-esque 2013 resurrection given his immense talent. Six years since his debut, Das averages 20.83 (T20I), 28.78 (ODI), & 28.35 (Tests) in 117 innings. Only 3 centuries and 15 fifties. Cannot depend on Tamim Iqbal forever, especially with Mohammad Naim & Soumya Sarkar blowing hot and cold.
The M Factor & Absence of Shakib Al Hasan Felt Dearly
Although Shakib Al Hasan returned in the Sri Lanka ODI series, he was sorely missed in the New Zealand leg. In the spin bowling department, there were brief sparks, but not much else, from Nasum Ahmed & name twins—Mahedi Hasan & Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who bowled in tandem. Lacking in control & consistency.
At one point, Sri Lanka used to have the M Factor. In the Sri Lanka ODI series, Bangladesh unleashed the M Factor of their own—Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, & Mustafizur Rahman.
Opening the bowling, Mehidy’s miserly 4/30 & 3/28 were match-winning spells. Bodes well if 2023 World Cup in India has these slow pitches.
Although not back at his best yet, Mustafizur Rahman is slowly getting there (see Jarrod Kimber’s analysis here). His slow off-cutters are back and his 6-1-16-3 in the 2nd ODI was especially good (to go with 9-0-34-3 in first ODI).
Highest run-scorer at #4 since the 2015 World Cup, Mushfiqur Rahim has to be one of the most underrated players of this era. This series showed exactly why with his 84 (87) & 125 (127) sealing the deal for Bangladesh.
Captains Tamim Iqbal & Mominul Haque provide consistency. Looks like the split captaincy is working. Adding to Najmul Hossain Shanto’s 163, Mominul scored a defiant ton in Sri Lanka, while Tamim has a few 50s (92 & 90 in SL Tests) on these two tours. Only if the team starts winning now…
It looked like Bangladesh had turned a corner in the 2015 World Cup with a pace attack of Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, & Taskin Ahmed. Taskin’s decline was heartbreaking but he is back among the wickets with 8 wickets in the Test series. With decent find in 20-year old Shoriful Islam, a lineup of Mustafizur-Mehidy-Taskin-Saifuddin-Shoriful-Shakib might be exactly what the Tigers need.
Karunatarane (244, 118, 66) Thirimanne (58, 140), Dhananjaya de Silva (166, 41), Niroshan Dickwella (31, 77*) had dream batting days that took Sri Lanka to scores of 684/8d, 493/7d, 194/9d. They did not get bowled out even once.
Dusmantha Chameera has one of Sri Lanka’s bright stars amidst their downfall. He improved over the course of thh ODI series with figures of 1/39, 3/44, and a match-winning spell of 9-1-16-5. Winning hand by new-ODI captain Kusal Perera in the final ODI as well – 120 (122).
Here are my early squad predictions for the 23-member T20I World Cup Squad based on the NZ-Ban T20I series. Kane Williamson’s spot in danger?
Martin Guptill, 2. Tim Seifert (WK), 3. Kane Williamson*, 4. Devon Conway, 5. Glenn Phillips, 6. Colin de Grandhomme, 7. Mitchell Santner, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Trent Boult, 10. Lockie Ferguson, 11. Ish Sodhi
Squad: 12. Finn Allen, 13. Will Young, 14. Jimmy Neesham, 15. Daryl Mitchell, 16. Kyle Jamieson, 17. Todd Astle, 18. Hamish Bennett, 19. Blair Tickner, 20. Jacob Duffy, 21. Mark Chapman, 22. Ross Taylor, 23. Doug Bracewell/Scott Kuggeleijn
Tamim Iqbal, 2. Liton Das, 3. Soumya Sarkar, 4. Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Shakib Al Hasan, 6. Mahmudullah, 7. Afif Hossain, 8. Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9. Mohammad Saifuddin, 10. Mustafizur Rahman, 11. Taskin Ahmed
Squad: 12. Mohammad Naim, 13. Najmul Hossain Shanto, 14. Mosaddek Hossain, 15. Mahedi Hasan, 16. Nasum Ahmed, 17. Shoriful Islam, 18. Rubel Hossain, 19. Mohammad Mithun, 20. Al-Amin Hossain, 21. Hasan Mahmud, 22. Abu Haider, 23. Sabbir Rahman
Here are the awards for Bangladesh Tours of New Zealand & Sri Lanka.
Taskin Ahmed in Sri Lanka
Daryl Mitchell, Will Young
Broken Cricket Dream
Bangladesh cricket on a downfall?
BJ Watling to retire; Ross Taylor’s retirement on the way?
Flat Road Pitches in the first Test
Thisara Perera retires
Where Do They Go From Here?
Although Bangladesh had a tough two months, they are sitting at the top of the ODI Super League Table with 5 wins from 9 matches. New Zealand are on #5 (3/3) and Sri Lanka are struggling at #13 (1/6). Bangladesh have no upcoming series for a while.
New Zealand are currently in England for 2 Tests & World Test Championship final. Apart from the forthcoming T20 leagues, the Kiwis have no assignments till the T20 World Cup in October-November. After the World Cup, New Zealand has a short limited overs tour of Australia in January 2022.
Sri Lanka travel to England for 3 T20Is & 3 ODIs in June followed by a home series against India for 3 ODIs & 3 T20Is in July. Later in February Sri Lanka will follow NZ’s suit and travel to Australia for 5 T20Is.
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Kemar Roach – 9 wickets (best innings 3/47, best match 6/121, 23.55 average, 73 overs bowled)
Suranga Lakmal – 11 wickets (best innings 5/47, best match 6/156, 1 5-fer, 21.45 average, 92 overs bowled)
West Indies Vs Sri Lanka 2021 Test Series Stats
1. A Tale of Three Captains: Holder, Pollard, Brathwaite
After West Indies’ remarkable victory against Bangladesh, stand-in Kraigg Brathwaite was made the permanent captain, replacing Jason Holder. Any claims of clash of egos, however, was much unfounded. Each of them contributed with the bat and Holder was even vocal on the field. Here is how they performed:
Pollard:38 (11) w/ 6 sixes in 1st T20I, 53* (42) in 3rd ODI
Brathwaite:In Bangladesh, he scored 76 & 20 and 47 & 6. Stable but no daddy hundreds. This time, he made amends with 126 (311) & 85 (196). His 813 minutes marathon effort broke the all-time West Indies record, surpassing the likes of Darren Bravo, Brian Lara, Desmond Haynes, & Gordon Greenidge.
Holder: He might not be the captain of the West Indies, but showed that he is still the #1 Test All-Rounder in the world. With 5/72 & 5th day match-saving contributions of 18* and 71* in the two Tests, his calm influence was evident. In the T20Is, scores of 29* and 14* might not look like much, but defending Hasaranga in the 18th over, so Fabian Allen could finish it off with 3 sixes was one of my moments of the series.
2. The Return of Hope to West Indies Cricket
110, 84, & 64—Hope is back. With 10 centuries, 19 50s, & 53.74 average, he is one of best ODI batsman in recent times along with Babar Azam & Virat Kohli. With John Campbell struggling for runs, expect a Test recall.
When Hope does not score a ton, Evin Lewis will. Returned with 65 & 103. When neither of them scored a hundred, Darren Bravo came back with a ton.
Their strike rates were in question, but healthy top order partnerships is the positive for the Windies.
3. Nkrumah Bonner-Kyle Mayers Partnership No Fluke
At the age of 32, Bonner has toiled hard enough in first class cricket. Bonner narrowly missed his ton in Bangladesh with 86 & 90 in Bangladesh, but his dream came true with a 113* in the first test.
A couple of 50s for Kyle Mayers & handy partnerships with Joshua de Silva shows that the Bangladesh tour was no fluke.
4. A Word on Rakheem Cornwall
Time to appreciate Rakheem Cornwall. Bowled his heart out in the spinning pitches of Bangladesh, and without his counter-attacking knocks of 61 & 73, West Indians might have lost 0-2 against Sri Lanka at home. Let Rakheem be Rakheem.
Suranga Lakmal could have easily slotted in one of the great Sri Lankan teams of the past. Unfortunately, after Herath’s retirement, he has to single handedly carry the Sri Lankan bowling on his shoulders. Highest wicket-taker across both sides and bowling 92 overs as a fast bowler in 2 tests—Commendable effort.
2. Hasaranga & Nissanka the Find For Sri Lanka
While Embuldeniya & Axar Patel bamboozled the English sides, the West Indies struggled against Hasaranga. If Sri Lanka are to progress further, watch out for the Embuldeniya-Hasaranga-Dhananjaya partnership.
Test century (103) on debut—Pathum Nissanka —take a bow! Followed it up with a 50 in the next innings. With Oshada Fernando also in good touch, finally good signs for Sri Lanka.
Talent ✔. Next goal — consistency.
3. Thirimanne Delivers A Decade Later
Thirimanne averages 25.87 now after a decade and 40 Tests to his name. Finally some consistency in the last four Tests with 2 centuries, 3 fifties (on this tour), a 43 & a 39.
Sri Lanka might have found a stable line up in Karunaratne, Thirimanne, Nissanka, Fernando, Mathews, and Dickwella. Speaking of Dickwella, so close yet so far. Scored his highest score of 92 (after 43 Tests). Brilliant character.
Great Test cricket in recent times, and the West Indies Vs Sri Lanka series lived up to the billing—first 0-0 draw in the last 5 years. Sri Lanka follow this with two Test matches against Bangladesh in April at home(to complete matches from the pandemic).
With neither side qualifying for the WTC final, the next major tournament is the T20I World Cup. Gayle, Hetmyer, Pooran, Pollard, Bravo & Russell have reached for the IPL, while Sri Lanka has zero players in the IPL (once Sangakkara-Jayawardene used to captain IPL teams). In June, Sri Lanka will travel to England for 3 T20Is & 3 ODIs to prepare for the World Cup.
Finally, in Jan-Feb of 2022, England tour West Indies for 5 T20Is & 3 Tests, returning their generous favor of restarting cricket last summer.
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