It often takes the simplest of actions to attain the most challenging things in life.
For instance, to enjoy great physical frame one needn’t pump iron or turn into Van Damme, Schwarzenegger or some Hulk-like beast necessarily; abstinence from white sugar and doing something as basic as walking can help.
You know what, it does help.
Nutrition isn’t only found in what we intake, but can also be sought from thoughts we feed ourselves. One reckons there’s similarity in this train of thought, particularly so where it concerns the West Indies.
There’s something they’d need to do if they desire to march on forwards, which is not that difficult.
If you eat the most nutritious food, which is habitually found in salads that aren’t impossible to find anywhere unless you go to dine on planet Pluto, you’d good nutrients anywhere.
Take that idea and place it into the basics of playing good cricket. How do we as the West Indies do that?
Simply be positive and abstain from playing silly cricket. You read that right.
This will likely take the defending world champions far.
The only challenge in this, however, is to stick to the basics. To be disciplined, which isn’t necessarily the strongest point of the two-time T20 world cup winners.
Remember, simple cricket here means not conceding too many extras, which is just one of the key factors that will determine where Windies end up eventually.
The other basic principles the famous team needs to do include things like taking catches, especially in the deep and rotating the strike, the latter, again being a key area of concern though not for a fanboy who ignores the weaknesses of this magnificent collection of talents knowing that there’s ground to be covered.
Next comes the running around the wickets. Hetmyer and Pooran are fit and hearty as is Pollard at his age where he’s not getting any younger. What about Gayle when he’s running to the non-striker’s end?
What about Chase who isn’t the fastest runner between the wickets despite being nimble?
In this department, you ought to think an Andre Russell will hold onto his own wonderfully well.
But where would you, for instance, place a Gayle, Rampaul, Hetmyer- who was perhaps fairly thin before than he is today and the likes when compared to a Kohli, Maxwell, Morgan, Buttler.
Forget all of them- and think of Chris Jordan. Where’s that athlete- not bowler- in this West Indies team that can sprint in the outfield and take blinders and sometimes, excellent return catches.
Will Fabian Allen’s absence hurt?
Next is direct hits- such a key again.
Not consuming too many dot calls. For that’s an essential to garner T20 success.
But do the West Indies actually excel in all of these vital fields that are merely basics to achieve the much-vaunted success?
Here’s a fact that must be addressed especially in that department that doesn’t require big blows and muscle power with the bat.
West Indies bowled 59 extras from the 5 T20Is combined against Australia.
Versus South Africa, however, they were much worse having conceded 64 extras.
Neither that wisdom giver, who understands the value of securing a dot ball nor any wannabe hipster who loves T20 cricket just for its dash of power, can deny the fact that stats don’t lie.
These are concerning numbers if you are a true fan of this outstandingly talented team that’s often seem from the limited prism of ‘entertainment.’
No coach can or will likely approve of these glaring mistakes.
There being no Fabian Allen anymore, the gifted all round talent out with injury, the one tremendous aspect of this team, which is athleticism has suffered a blow.
Gladly, Bravo and Pollard and Russell remain in the fold. Much to his credit, Chris Gayle, as seen in the recent past, has started to take singles and even doubles.
One of the fitting captures from the 2019 men’s ICC world cup was the sight of Gayle diving in the slips to stop singles and running behind the white ball much like the Gayle of the 2001s, the 2007s era.
That’s beautiful. Heartening even. Imagine the power that he could be should he return to the opening cauldron and function as the giant he actually is instead of being morphed into being a #3 that he’s been made to be.
Who took that call anyway? Was it Gayle himself? The Universe knows the answer perhaps.
Here’s something to remember.
The great Bruce Lee once said, “Be yourself, have faith in yourself. Faith is the key!”
So one reckons faith is also the key for someone like the West Indies, who demonstrated it all thanks to Marlon Samuels in 2012. The right-hander’s blazing exploits against Malinga in Malinga-country proving all was not over until it was over.
Was the 78 (featuring six sixes) off just 56 deliveries in the 2012 world cup final the greatest World cup final knock of all time or if not, the benchmark for being the greatest 78-run knock ever?
Even when the Samuels saga was over post- 2012, in came another evidence of quintessential Caribbean doggedness.
In 2014, which was the next edition of the mother of all T20 battles, there came a moment so pure and definitive of the true Caribbean spirit that Pollard and team would like to carve a performance like that should it come to it.
In a must win game against Pakistan, the Windies, batting early, lost cheap wickets with barely any runs on the board.
It soon, however, came to DJ Bravo and Darren Sammy, the latter, a two-time World Cup winning captain, to register a strong stand that eventually turned a nearly-lost contest on its head, but not before the partnership completely decimated the opposition by virtue of fours and sixes.
88 of Windies’ 166 runs that the glorious partnership stitched were as a result of brutal hits to the fence.
This is when Pakistan, over half a decade back, just think of it- had the services of Afridi, Gul and Ajmal.
Can the Windies produce a stand like that this time around? Say Pollard and Pooran together in the middle during some crisis?
Yet, no great thing can ever be achieved alone, once said the Wall of cricket.
So taking a leaf out of Dravid’s book, the West Indies would like to play as a close-knit brand since unity stems from together unless one forgot that cricket is a team-based game where individual strengths count.
It’ll be absolutely ludicrous to make one or two batsmen responsible for carrying the entire team’s scoring mantle alone.
Pooran can do that. Hetmyer fans will know the leftie can do that too.
But then isn’t it time for Fletcher, the big hitter, to introduce spice in his batting that, of late, has turned bland?
The no look sixes are fine, but are they yielding a solid top inning score?
Now what if the entire responsibility of going big lands on Evin Lewis’s shoulders alone?
Moreover, what if in scoring big and striking it far and wide Lewis himself comes under pressure?
The last thing we need now is for Evin Lewis, 2 T20I tons, to assume he has to do it on his own and that it’ll be a mighty easy.
That’s when the likes of the Spiceman Fletcher on whom the board has placed tremendous faith despite average (recent) returns (31 runs from 4 T20Is vs Aus) will have to step up.
It’s not that Fletcher doesn’t have the craft or zest to contribute. One of the most under-appreciated stories of the 2016 world cup campaign was this smiling hitter’s contribution.
The 106 runs from just 3 games, including that fantastic unbeaten 84, all of which went under represented massively in mainstream media.
But Evin Lewis, who inspires much confidence, will think of the current batting cauldron a bit differently.
One reckons, he’d still like a Gayle to be at the other end and that’s just for the tuning and understanding that two of the finest plunderers of the white ball share.
Moreover, that’ll also be because then the duo can indulge in carnage which they’ve treated fans time and again to, think of the And that’s regardless of how good a form Evin Lewis himself brings to the table, which can’t be doubted anyhow since in 2021 (so far), he’s already hammered nearly 400 runs (13 innings, 1 not out) with 3 fifties.
Bravo, who’s playing his final T20 world cup ever, would like to end on a high. The tendency to bowl it slow is intact, whether one remembers the countless IPL games he’s won for his CSK or that famous delivery that knocked the stumps of a maestro known as Yuvraj Singh, with Lara as the ODI captain.
Can Bravo, the bowler, the athlete take up the same level of responsibility that he’s so often demonstrated for his IPL outfit or the CPL platform to bring pride to the collective that is West Indies?
Known of what has been raised as questions has any formidable answers for T20 is a contest that’s ruthlessly surprising and can turn any moment.
What’s important, though, is to remember, that it must be played with fun and passion, both of which the West Indies have in aplenty.
So let’s dispense with silly guesses and supposed expertise and rally around the West Indies.
(with inputs from– Prashant Kumar Banjare)