May 7, 2011
West Indies cricket in turmoil
NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency
The West Indies created an aura of invincibility for nearly three decades.
They were held in the same high esteem as Brazil when it comes to soccer.
The Calypso Cricketers, known for their swashbuckling batting and destructive pace bowling, packed stadiums around the world.
That’s a far cry from today’s team that is average at best. Years of mismanagement has taken its toll and continues to do so.
Infighting over contract fees between the board and players made headlines again two weeks ago when former captain Chris Gayle left the squad for a stint in the lucrative Indian Premier League at a time when Pakistan is touring the Windies.
In that short time, Gayle has taken the IPL by storm by slamming two centuries in the 20-over tournament for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Now, Andy Roberts, one of the country’s most respected players, has had enough of the malaise that has gripped the islands and called for a complete overhaul of the system if it is ever to return to the top.
Roberts was a member of the all-conquering West Indies at its prime and struck fear in many a batsman with his searing pace that brought him 202 wickets in 47 Tests.
Roberts wants West Indies Cricket Board chairman Julian Hunte and his chief executive Ernest Hilaire to resign immediately.
“They don’t have a clue how to move West Indies cricket forward. They don’t have a clue. Some of the board members should also resign otherwise the same problems will keep appearing in the future,” Roberts told ESPNcricinfo.
It’s been some 15 years since the West Indies passed the mantle as the best team to Australia, before India took over in 2010.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for so long one of the West Indies’ rock-solid batsman, also fired a broadside at both Hunte and Hilaire, which surprisingly came a day before he was reported to have been included in the squad to face Pakistan in the first Test this coming week.
Chanderpaul added things went from bad to worse when management asked him to retire.
“I told them I wasn’t going to. I have been ranked among the top 10 batsmen around the world even though I have been moved up, down and in the middle of the batting order.’’
SIMMONS ON A ROLL
There was a ray of sunshine in the dreary West Indies cricket scene as Lendl Simmons hammered an unbeaten 77 to lead the country to a 10-wicket drubbing of Pakistan at Providence, Guyana, in a one-day international Thursday.
The nephew of former West Indies star Phil Simmons has scored half-centuries in his last four games and credits his form to new batting consultant Desmond Haynes, one of the Caribbean’s greatest opening bats.
Paceman Ravi Rampaul captured four for 45 to send Pakistan crashing to 139 and the Windies reached their target with 26.3 overs to spare.
Pakistan had already wrapped up the series by winning the first three of the five-match series.
MORE FEUDING ... AGAIN
Oh, no not again. Apparently Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and national coach Waqar Younis are at loggerheads over the selection of the team.
Reports filtering out of the West Indies say that Afridi was so upset with the coach’s continual interference that he threatened to pull out of the team. He was persuaded to carry on by manager Intikhab Alam.
“Not only Afridi, but it appears some of the other senior players are not happy with the way Waqar is handling things in the team and particularly his role in selection matters,’’ a source close to the team said.
The source also revealed the two had differences over selection matters dating back to the World Cup where Pakistan lost in the semis to eventual winner India.
This is a sad turn of events as Pakistan, a country that produces more world-class cricketers than any other, has always been plagued by internal strife starting at the very top.
WARNE CALLS IT A DAY
Shane Warne, who somehow managed to juggle wine, women and wickets during his illustrious international career, will retire from professional cricket after his current stint with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Considered Australia’s greatest cricketer behind the legendary Don Bradman, the 41-year-old spin genius, retired from the international scene in 2007 after taking 708 Test wickets and 293 one-day wickets. It is generally felt that his love for swigging a few back, his cigarette puffing, drug and bookmaking scandals cost him a job as Australia’s captain. Well, not to mention his private life that included his current affair with Liz Hurley, the British actress. The cricket world will be sad to see Warny depart as he was one of a kind.
Hashan Tillakaratne, the former Sri Lankan captain, rocked the cricket world a week ago by saying that Sri Lankan players have been fixing matches since 1992. That prompted sports minister Mahindanada Aluthgamage to ask the police chief to launch an immediate investigation. So it is now a waiting game until the former-cricketer-turned-politician names names. “I stand by my comments about match-fixing but can’t reveal names for my safety. I made the statement in good faith and I will reveal the names to the ICC,” Tillakaratne added.
THE HOLY TRINITY
On the heels of Andy Flower signing a long-term deal to continue coaching England, the board made a bold move by announcing three different captains for the three formats of the game — Tests, one-day international and the Twenty20.
Andrew Strauss will continue to lead the Test team after standing down as ODI captain, a position that has been filled by Alastair Cook. Stuart Broad has been handed the captaincy of the Twenty20 squad. He takes over from Paul Collingwood as England looks to the future.
The 43-year-old Zimbabwean took over as coach in 2009 after a stint as assistant coach and, under his guidance, England won the Twenty20 World Cup and beat the Aussies for the Ashes.
“I have no doubt that under his direction (Flower) we will continue to see England improve as we strive to become the No. 1 side in the world in all formats of the game,” said England managing director Hugh Morris.
Three different captains is a huge gamble. Will the three be able to work together? Personally, I think Flower has taken over a three-pronged headache.