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West Indies cricket at the crossroads

Kraigg Braithwaite is helping drag the Windies back to a level of respectability. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
Expert
7th December, 2015
10

It would be grossly unfair of Cricket Australia to decide the future of Bellerive as a Test venue by how many turn up to watch the first Test against the West Indies starting Thursday.

There’s zero interest in the three-Test series, with Sportsbet offering $1.01 for an Australian victory, and a whopping $34 for the Windies – even though Australia have dropped to third in the ICC rankings, following India’s drubbing of South Africa in India.

The latest rankings
South Africa 114
India 110
Australia 109
Pakistan 106
England 99
New Zealand 95
Sri Lanka 93
West Indies 76
Bangladesh 47
Zimbabwe 5

Australia must beat the Windies 3-0 to regain second spot, and on recent performances with the Windies ranked eighth, and a very poor eighth at that, it should be automatic.

It would be a vastly different story if Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, and Sunil Narine were in the squad.

Gayle and Bravo will be in Australia anyway with the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League, and so will Sammy with the Hobart Hurricanes.

Pollard’s in doubt with the Adelaide Strikers because of a knee injury, while Narine has been suspended by the ICC over his suspect off-break delivery.

It’s a tragedy for international cricket the West Indies Board can’t keep the peace with Gayle, Bravo, Sammy and Pollard with all the talent the quartet has to offer.

In recent years there has been plenty of friction with the Windies. They are not a national side but a combination of many countries like Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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So it’s easy to understand how territorial the board can be and not in the team’s best interests.

Not that the current squad is devoid of talent, it’s just light on.

Skipper Jason Holder is a better than handy all-rounder, so too Darren Bravo. Marlon Samuels is a world-class batsman when he’s in the mood, but he’s a moody player. Denesh Ramdin is a quality keeper-batsman, while Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor are two genuine quicks who will relish Bellerive if there’s a lot of grass on the pitch.

And that leaves leggie Devendra Bishoo who has talent as well.

But it’s all too little of everything, and that includes winning. Gone are the halcyon days of the Windies not losing a Test for 15 years starting 1980. The Windies have now won one Test and lost 37 overseas against the top eight countries, since December 2003.

It would be fair to say cricket-lovers the world over would love to see the Windies back to their dynamic calypso best, and not regular collapso.

It wasn’t a good look when a Cricket Australia XI made up of six kids who had never played first-class cricket thumped the Windies by 10 wickets in Brisbane.

But now there’s a changing of the guard with the greats of the past hands on to lift the Windies – Sir Richie Richardson, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, and coach Phil Simmons, while Clive Lloyd is the chairman of selectors.

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If they can’t improve the Windies, heaven help them.

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