WEST Indies started their World Cup campaign in style, blowing Pakistan away to revive memories of their glory days of swashbuckling batting and fearsome fast bowling, but after that comprehensive seven-wicket win the two-time former champions had a familiar tale of poor performances, which effectively ended their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the 50-over event.
World champions in 1975 and 1979, the Caribbean side finished the tournament on a high with a win over Afghanistan last Thursday. It was the Windies second taste of victory since their first match of the tournament back on May 31.
Windies were fancied by many to reach the semi-finals of this World Cup before a ball was bowled but they crashed out with two group matches still to play.
It is a familiar scenario for West Indies sides and veteran broadcaster, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira believes team selection, preparation ahead of the tournament and consistency are the three reasons for their below-par showing in England and Wales.
“I thought initially there was a mistake in leaving Keemo Paul out, because he is a wicket-taking bowler … he would have swung the ball in England, and the West Indies needed someone like him. I think we made a mistake by not getting our entire squad to the Ireland tour prior to the World Cup … all other teams had got their players back from the India Premier League (IPL), except the West Indies,” ‘Reds’ Perreira reckoned during an exclusive interview yesterday.
‘Reds’, who was fortunate to cover 147 Test matches at all Test venues around the world except in Bangladesh continued, “The World Cup is once every four years and maybe some kind of IPL negotiation with Gayle (Chris) and Russell (Andre) (should have taken place), where they could have joined the West Indies in Ireland, so they could have had a proper practice there then go to England and prepare.
The other players were hardly playing any IPL matches, so the likes of Oshane Thomas, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran could have all joined the West Indies setup.
What eventually happened prior to the World Cup? They had a four-day camp plus a few matches, so definitely preparation was not good enough to be in the best shape for the World Cup. Other teams had a month’s preparation where they had a team working together, building team spirit and at the same time gelling together.”
Reds, a former adviser to ex-Sport Minister Shirley Field-Ridley, who did his first Test commentary in 1971 when West Indies opposed India, acknowledged that consistency was another major problem throughout the tournament, adding that the Windies failed in every department of the game.
“The performance lacked consistency in just about every department. We just could not build an innings, put on big scores while our bowlers were all over the place … our quicks weren’t getting wickets at the top and for some strange reason they kept leaving out Kemar Roach which was a mystery. I think too we had a few batsmen getting starts but not going on compared to the other teams,” he said.
While the Windies failed to understand English conditions and paid the price for their one-dimensional tactics, they can take heart from good individual batting performances from Pooran, Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Carlos Brathwaite, pacemen Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell – an indication of some talent.