When only being good enough to play for the West Indies became a crime

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When a system’s broken, a large proportion of people will only lose their temper with whoever’s closest.

Overworked due to cutbacks? Blame the colleague who just asked you a question. Huge queue of traffic on the motorway? Focus your bad mood on the driver of the car in the adjacent lane who’s trying to filter in.

Similarly, a lot of people seem to be angry with the West Indies players for their performance in the first Test. Actually angry.

“The West Indies are a disgrace; they aren’t even trying; and the series is going to be three embarrassing innings defeats.”

We’re collating and paraphrasing there, but this was the tenor of some of the broadcast coverage of the match.

Every time the West Indies tour England, a certain proportion of this nation’s commentators seem surprised that the team isn’t as good as they thought it was.

It’s not so much they expect them to be all-conquering; it’s not so much that they expect them to win. It’s more that whatever standard they are, they’re expected to be slightly better.

Maybe it’s a slow slide or maybe some people’s perceptions are so well-anchored that they have to be dragged with a good deal of force.

The Windies weren’t very good in the first Test. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will also be poor in the next two matches, but they were bad enough that it’s not an entirely unfair assumption.

The case for the defence is that they are an inexperienced Test side, if not quite as young as you might think. The Edgbaston day-nighter was perhaps the most high profile five-day match several of them will have played and that can impact performance.

They may well lose the next two Tests. If they do, disappointment is natural, and sadness. But anger at the players? They’re almost certainly doing their best – even if that isn’t quite so majestic as some might hope.

This is a bunch of guys who probably aren’t quite as good at cricket as the people they’re playing against. There are bigger crimes.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Agree it’s no crime, but if some ticket-holders feel defrauded I don’t blame them. (Though there should be other folk in their target line than the WI players.)

  2. There’s a sympathy for the West Indies that can sometimes slide over into patronisation. If this were the Aussies that had been beaten in three days, we’d have been laughing and joking and making graphs and generally revelling in their pain. But we treat the West Indies like they’re new to the game.

    Maybe this is because we are concerned that cricket will disappear in the Caribbean, replaced with American sports. But if this is true, then rather than this condescending attitude we seem to prefer, we should actually do something about it. I can think of two approaches:

    1. Pay all international players from an ICC pool that recognises the equality of importance of all the test nations.

    2. Get a South African to tell them to grovel.

    1. Totally agree with approach 1.

      Approach 2 wouldn’t work any more, even if the South African in question was captaining England.

      I am not angry with the West indies team but I am angry with KC.

      Why didn’t you tell us that day/night test cricket would be cold at Edgbaston?

      Why didn’t you tell us that it would be all over in three days? (Granted, we’d only arranged to go for the first three days anyway, but we were looking forward to watching the rest of the match on the TV)?

      Why didn’t you tell us that the West Indies team had two Hopes (Bob Hope and no hope…and Bob Hope’s dead)?

      Why oh why?

  3. Firstly: that field placement is a thing of beauty.

    Secondly: I think a lot of fans, when they think of the West Indies, will think of Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Darren Sammy, and lots of other players who aren’t in the Test side (like Shiv!). Possibly, some fans will have shelled out the not inconsiderable sum for Test tickets in the belief that these players, or players of similar quality, would be playing.

    I don’t know enough about the WICB situation to know the right person to be angry at (it’s probably going to be someone in a suit, isn’t it?), but some level of annoyance feels justified, and I think the players are always going to catch some of that (especially if they have their hands in their pockets when the ball is being bowled, or if they don’t dive to save boundaries).

  4. I’m angry with the West Indies administration, because a good number of these poor players aren’t actually good enough to play for the Windies. A team with the Bravos, Narine etcetera would be so much better. It seems that the board haven’t realised that they can’t even remotely offer the best deal that the star players could get, then makes stupid demands that no sane person would meet.

    I can imagine the board meeting:
    “Our cricket team has been struggling of late, how can we turn it around? Anyone?”
    “How about we piss off the players and make them either ineligible or not wanting to play for us so we have to pick even worse players?”
    “That’s it, that’s how we become a cricketing power again, bonuses for all!!”

    Sorry for the rant, I’m just depressed at how the once mighty have fallen.

  5. Good points there by APW and Micko re men in suits and the WICB.

    Since Brexit, I like to blame “Call Me Dave” Cameron for most everything that goes wrong and plan to do so for the next quarter century or so.

    In this instance, although it might seem like a strange stretch, blaming Dave Cameron has at least partial veracity and supports APW and Micko’s arguments rather neatly.

    1. I wondered why you planned to stop after approximately 25 years, then had the horrible feeling you might have consulted a life table ๐Ÿ™

  6. A lot of the blame has to be attributed to the WICB and what seems to be a long period of financial mismanagement. The result is that they don’t seem to be able to pay their players a decent wedge compared to the riches available in T20 and the result is the first class game suffers.

    Arguably it was ever thus, the difference being that in previous generations, the riches were to be found in county cricket which was more of benefit to the longer game.

  7. Chris Gayle’s back (for the ODIs, he hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything). Also Marlon Samuels.

    No Bravos though (not even a Juliet).

    1. Also, Collingwood in the World XI.

      You could have a fairly decent over-40s World XI by this time next year

      Shivnarine Chanderpaul
      Paul Collingwood
      Gareth Batty (turns 40 in October)
      Rangana Herath (turns 40 next March)


      1. Trescothick and Chanderpaul would be a pretty decent opening pair, I’d fancy them to tear up the second division of the County Championship for sure.

        Funny how the standard of cricket in the second division of the County Championship doesn’t come up very often in arguments for two-tier Test cricket, by the way.

  8. Players like Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor were accused of not trying for the Windies in Australia – with a lot more evidence, for example Taylor not attempting to take a catch on the boundary in a tour game because he was chatting.

    Now they are the saviours that the WICB have ostracised.

    Articles like this (http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-west-indies-2017/content/story/1117218.html) one from Jarrod Kimber continue to call on these players along with others like Sammy, Russell, Pollard and Dwayne Bravo who are either failed international cricketers or are players that fans could not wait to get rid of for their persistently ordinary cricket in tests.

    If there’s one great crime of T20 it’s convincing the world that the West Indies has a missing test team.

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