As a West Indies Cricket commentator, I, along with the late Tony Cozier, had the privilege of covering the victorious moments of the West Indies in the 1975 and 1979 World Cups. However, it deeply disappoints me, like many West Indians, that the team did not qualify for the upcoming World Cup in India in October-November 2023.
There is certainly validity in the criticism directed at the team, as they were clearly outperformed by other teams during the qualifiers in Zimbabwe. Yet, I believe the root of the problem can be traced back to the blunders made by the selectors in 2021. Instead of looking towards the youth for the T20 World Cup, they opted for what we call the “Dad’s Army” team. This team included players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and even Ravi Rampaul. A more practical approach would have been to select a team that would serve the West Indies better in future tournaments.
During the qualifiers in Zimbabwe, it was essential for us to defeat Zimbabwe in order to progress. However, we didn’t anticipate being beaten by teams like the Netherlands and Scotland. The team’s poor bowling and fielding performances were unexpected by the new coach, Darren Sammy, especially considering our initial victories against the United States and Nepal, which were primarily driven by the batting prowess of Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, and Johnson Charles. Overall, the West Indies lack the ability to bounce back when faced with adversity. The inconsistency in various aspects of the team’s performance has been a contributing factor to the current predicament. Furthermore, the poor selection choices have been ongoing for the past four years, even under the leadership of former coach Phil Simmons.
I do not wish to criticize captain Shai Hope, as he was under immense pressure. However, it is evident that we lacked the bowling firepower required to break through the opposition’s defenses, and our bowlers were unable to maintain accuracy. It is difficult to set effective fielding positions when the bowling is subpar. Alzarri Joseph lacked a genuine pace partner, and this is where the selectors missed an opportunity. They should have included left-arm pacer Dominic Drakes. Additionally, our selection system is peculiar, with only two selectors (Desmond Haynes and Roland Butcher), whereas other nations have four or five selectors.
Time is running out for coach Darren Sammy, as the West Indies will soon face a world-class Indian team. For the upcoming white-ball series, Sammy might need to persuade selectors Haynes and Butcher to consider Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, and Andre Russell.
The West Indies has reached a critical point where even well-thought-out solutions may not work. At the heart of the Caribbean’s cricket crisis lies a lack of hunger and desire. This assessment is not exclusive to me, as many share this sentiment.
Reds Perreira has been a broadcaster since 1971.