The West Indies have arrived in Zimbabwe amid massive speculations about their chances to qualify for the ICC 2019 World Cup. Die-hard fans, who wish the sun would always shine on the men from the Caribbean cannot imagine the biggest ICC event, a rare occurrence that happens once in four years, without the West Indies. It’s a lot of time to re-group, re-organise and even, re-orient ones approach to the game.
But in the last four years, where their cricketing output is concerned, West Indies have gone from being a walnut to shrinking to the size of a raisin. You know what happens when an army of ants find to its utter delight the chance to gorge on a piece of dry-fruit that has no takers.
Minnows that they might be called, the Associate nations- Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Afghanistan and the UAE- would rather prefer the West Indies to be that listless fruit that has fallen off from the edge of a tree; one that can be devoured without much ado.
Even as this reads like a rigorous bashing of the Caribbean side, there’s evidence to believe the team is echoing just this feeling. As on February 27, playing their first-ever practice game ever since descending in Zimbabwe, a country where they gained a series win after months of onerous suffering, the West Indies have managed to give fans a fresh reason to strike a conversation with reality. Jason Holder’s men failed to chase 140, in a rain-affected D/L game.
Their fans, who would not think twice before trading their most precious belongings to spend some tv-viewing time watching Holder, Hope, Gayle, Evin, Samuels and Kesrick Williams fight it out in England would now consider hitting the road to see Jesus first. Some would want to fast and resort to other emotionally-driven albeit impractical measures hoping for things to get better.
But would they?
In fact, the rationalists; fans on social media who back the idea of dismantling the Windies board once and for all, taking the boys away from the game for a while in order to mount a serious recovery at a latter stage; would be compelled to switch off from television during March as mayhem might follow.
Why on earth was a side where a Gayle and Samuels- two of their sports’ most famous old-guards along with Evin Lewis and Shai Hope, arguably the finest white and red ball talents respectively unable to clamp down a modest ask of 140 is something that none can say. Not even the best cricketing brains in the world.
But here’s the harsh fact minus any silver lining in the sky. Afghanistan made light-work of a Caribbean side where Gayle contributed 9, Hetmyer 1, Jason Mohamed 0 and, Shai Hope 1, and Rashid Khan, subsequently found- he wasn’t the only one who could terrorise a bunch of batsmen who use footwork as rarely as one using wool during summers. Dawlat Zadran, a right-arm medium pacer took an impressive hat-trick leaving Khan to scuttle the lower order.
This leaves us to question something that no longer can be avoided. Was Jason Holder actually in senses when just hours before the start of West Indies’ maiden practice game on this tour suggested, “West Indies should consider winning a third World Cup”? Here’s sufficient proof Holder was on some substance that only he can explain. On February 21, he came out with a public statement that read the following, ” I don’t consider my side as the strongest opponent in the world cup qualifiers.” Where does that lead a side where barring Samuels and Gayle, no other West Indian talent has even touched 75 ODI games?
But as the true, unbridled passion of the West Indian lover would have it, one who still stands by his team, the sky hasn’t fallen over. Not just yet. But if the West Indies happen to believe in that thing called a team huddle, they’d be discussing how to reverse skyfall.