It is not unusual to find the West Indies cricket amidst some sort of crisis. It may be a test match or a limited over game, the men from the Caribbean seem to be clearly lacking the flair and the character with which they once decorated the game with standout passion and resolve. Be it on the field among the playing eleven, or off it, even their cricket administration often finds itself in the news for all the wrong reasons. If the backing out from the Indian tour last year without finishing the complete leg of the series wasn't enough for their cricketing conduct to be ridiculed, the recent uninspiring performances against South Africa in South Africa, have only provided a dampener. The worst hit was received by the players who didn't just suffer a crestfallen loss to perhaps the strongest test side alongside Australia, but were disgruntled by the mental anguish it caused to their motivation. The recently concluded one day international series in which the tourists capitulated to a 4-1 defeat came as a severe blow to their preparations for the Cricket World Cup 2015 which was just around the corner.
In the South African series, barring the promise shown by an in-from Marlon Samuels and an occasional spurt of form displayed by the likes of newly appointed one day skipper Jason Holder and hard hitting Andre Russell, there wasn't anything significantly moving to register about the performance of this consistently slipping side. Marlon Samuels, who might not have carried his bat through to the end of a test inning, managed to conjure a formidable ton amidst tough batting conditions in the test series and looked in fine knick notching up a couple of promising fifties in addition to show some hope. Furthermore, he was in top form in the 3 match T20 series, which the Windies bagged thanks to their big hitting play and a sudden elevation in the mood of Christopher Henry Gayle, the inconsistent big hitter. But, one notices that quite like the condition of their weak economy, their cricketing fortunes weren't too encouraging with each passing game as far as the 5 match ODI series was concerned. There was no Sunil Narine or Sunil Badree and the rest of the fast bowlers looked pale and jaded and were seen giving away far too many runs that their bowling consultant Curtly Ambrose would have hoped for. A Windies side that once was a witness to a sublime pace battery is now hardly even close to its own shadows of the bygone era. That hurts!
All said and done, the West Indians aren't cricketers who bother too much about what is lost, they play freely and are known to enjoy the game through which their cricketing histories have peaked many glories in the past. It could be clearly seen that an out of form Chris Gayle would emerge stronger and better heading for the world cup. The last minute pull out of Sunil Narine although consumed as much press ink as did the hugely criticized omissions of Pollard and Dwayne Bravo from the 15 member World Cup squad, still their bowling attack seemed one that could pack some punches featuring Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor. In the turning conditions in Australia and New Zealand, the presence of Suleiman Benn wouldn't be too hurting it seemed. With a batting line up that featured the consistent and steadily improving Samuels, batting didn't seem too weak with names like Darren Sammy, Dwayne Smith, Denesh Ramdin and 'Laraisque' little Bravo. One wouldn't have expected the West Indies to completely eliminate the humiliating loss they recorded in their last dismal outing, but still there were hopes for them to redeem some glory considering the legendary format of the iconic tournament they were getting to compete in. World Cup's are known to lift the spirit and overall vibe of any team.
One its day, there may not be a great deal of difference between a mighty side and one dubbed as a minnow, and, this is exactly what transpired on the West Indies' world cup opening campaign versus the lesser known and easily, lesser experienced Ireland.
Nelson, the picturesque city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay in New Zealand, recorded yet another historic triumph in the short career of one of the most understated but perhaps the most deceptively dangerous side in world cricket on February 16,2015. This would easily go down as one of the dates that the Irish would go on to fancy for the rest of their lives in perhaps the same fashion with which they unwind listening to their beloved U2 or their all season Irish coffee. Perhaps, not a date that a West Indian fan would want to remember, let alone any of their world cup participant.
5th Match, Pool B : Ireland v West Indies : Scorecard
One wonders what became of the "Gaylestorm" that was being predicted at the start of the game? What about the imposing threat of a potent pace attack that featured not one but three skilled pacers? The Windies registered a severe dent to their hopes of regaining some lost form in a fashion that none could have predicted. They didn't just lose the toss to begin with having being put into bat on a pitch that didn't seem like a belter, but began to lose early wickets. Gayle who was beginning to settle in the middle having stuck it out during the course of the initial few overs, recorded a painfully slow score of 36 of 65 balls. The West Indies are the only team in the World Cup that have one of their opening batsmen whose batting average isn't even 25. Talking of Dwayne Smith, he was quickly seen returning to the shores where he opened the batting from: the pavillion. A knock of 18 wasn't exactly inspiring. Furthermore, wickets began to tumble at the pace of the freely flowing breeze over the top of the magnificent ground. Samuels can be spared the knife of criticism for he still has many games to go and has been the best bat for long although his 21 off 41 did nothing great to the fortunes of the steadily declining Windies. It seems Darren Bravo is still awaiting for a lucky day on which he can finally open his account and his golden duck only drew shocked faces from expecting crowds. Had it not been for the tremendous recovery toward the middle of the innings orchestrated by the combined batting talents of Darren Sammy and Lendl Simmons, the West Indians would have been a goner very early into the game. Their stroke- full partnership that saw some lusty blows delivered severely on Kevin O' Brien, Mooney and Sorensen all around the wicket furnished 154 valuable runs. But, in the end, even an imposing tally of 304 that featured a late Russell outburst from the bat wasn't enough to drive West Indies back home.
The Caribbean bowlers completely let the team down. Theirs was a performance that lacked consistency, commitment and application. In short, everything that their comparably weaker opposition played with. Runs weren't being scored, they were being fired from the gauntlet it seemed. The West Indies bowlers displayed a sense of betrayal to the hopes planted by the magical recovery crafted by former skipper Sammy and the crafty Simmons. Ireland who have earlier upset England in the previous edition of the tournament in 2011, registered an emphatic triumph with around 6 over's to spare. They couldn't have asked for a better performance by the collective talents of its ardent cricketers and the West Indians couldn't have dug a bigger hole for themselves like the one they did by succumbing to this crushing loss. In the end, their fans and those who still believe in their ability to bounce back are ought to ask them a question, loud and clear: can you still get up and stand up, put together a fight? The tournament has only just begun and this may be Windies' loudest early morning alarm. Whether they wake up and get on song can only be answered by time.