The once formidable West Indies side that had the potential to send shivers down batmen’s spines have, today been reduced to being hardly a force to reckon with, hugely dependent on the volatile Chris Gayle, whose participation in the side isn’t even confirmed..
The West Indies of yesteryears boasted of bowlers such as Wes Hall, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding. The batting had Rohan Kanhai, Gary Sobers, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and even the era to follow had Brian Lara and the menacing pace duo of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.
Former cricketers and some analysts blame the lucre of the IPL. However, another way of looking at things is that if it wasn’t for the IPL, we run the risk of responding “Dwayne who?” on hearing one of the current West Indies players names! West Indies’ own mismanagement of resources, improper handling and the pressures of managing several island nations into one cricket team has led to its present state. Both former and current players have made no bones about the fact that the board could do a thing or two about the way players are treated. And it must.
The BCCI recently announced a large cash grant for former Indian players and have a good category-wise contractual allocation for current players too. Of course, the BCCI has a lot more cash than any other board and can afford to do a lot more. What can the West Indies cricket board do? Invite more sponsorships? Organize an IPL like league? The first thing the WICB should do is take the players into confidence; express to them that it’s their goodwill uppermost in mind. Then work on an financial plan to generate revenues to take care of themselves and decrease the lure of flying away to play for foreign franchises. True, no matter what a board pays, the privately funded IPL franchises (and the soon to start SLPL franchises) will be able to match it, but the WICB needs to make its intent clear in wanting to retain players rather than issue threats and mandates that stifle them.
Of the team that is assembling bit by bit for the England series, bulk of them are away playing in the IPL and the rest are nursing some injury or the other. If the fact that the warm-up game against the English Lions was washed out, depriving West Indies of practice ahead of the first test at Lords on Thursday, English fans would be licking their lips in anticipation, while West Indies fans would be dreading what is sure to be a tough and daunting series for the islanders.
Head to head146th England v West Indies test match it will be, with West Indies leading 53 to 43 with 49 draws. In England, two teams clash for the 81st time and home team marginally leads at 30 wins to 29 with 21 draws. At the venue, Lord's in London, England lead 8 wins to 4 with 7 draws.
Fact : It's been over a decade since West Indies won a test match on England's soil, going back to June 2000 at Edgbaston. Since then, Windies have only maganed one more win over England, besides losing 15 times and drawing 7.
Playing XIsGiven the rainy conditions and early English season, visitors are contemplating all pace attack but their real challenge will come with the bat. Kieron Powell and Dwayne Bravo have shown the best form in practice games but everyone must join Shivnarine Chanderpual to put runs on board.
West Indies (likely) : Adrian Barath, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpual, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards.
England (likely) : Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Graham Onions/Steven Finn and James Anderson.
Captain's speak“You only have to look at the way the West Indies have played recently to know that they're a match for most sides. But we’re looking forward to the chance to prove ourselves again which is what you've always got to do in international cricket. The first Test of a summer is always exciting and we just cannot wait to get out there and play”.. says England captain Andrew Strauss, not underestimating his low level opposition.
“We left the Caribbean knowing it’s going to be a very difficult challenge but we also know that if we can play well and put runs on the board, we back our bowling attack to get 20 wickets and win a Test match”.. says captain Darren Sammy, putting onus on his batsmen.