The West Indies selectors are currently getting ready to announce the teams to play against the visiting Sri Lankans due to arrive shortly in the Caribbean to play a series of ODIs (One Day Internationals), T20s (Twenty20) and Test matches. It comes on the heel of a famous Test series victory against Bangladesh away from home.
On that very tour, the WI ODI team was embarrassingly whitewashed 0-3, so too was the T20 team that weeks before visited New Zealand which is why all the hype surrounding potential changes pertaining to the Test team confuses me greatly. Shouldn’t the heavy focus be on the ODI and T20 teams? After all, there’s a World Cup due later this year to prepare for.
But step back for a moment. Prior to departing for Bangladesh, 12 WI players made themselves unavailable for tour duty sighting various reasons - COVID fears, bubble burnout, other franchise cricket to play and some, no reason at all. Interestingly enough, five WI cricketers at home became COVID positive. Thankfully they’ve all recovered well.
Now I’ll remind you of what I wrote about previously. Watch closely how all the issues affecting the famous 12 magically disappear. Watch closely as they’ll line up ready to represent the WI, swearing their allegiance to the Maroon crest. But why? Because there’s simply nothing else going on at the moment. The franchise cricket calendar is empty, and the IPL (Indian Premier League) has predictably dumped several of them. Survival mode will now kick in. Love for WI will reignite....until the next franchise event.
It is my hope that the WI selectors realise that there won’t be a second chance to get it right. This is it. Driving forward after confidence-building success cannot be overlooked. While CWI has clearly stated that they won’t punish those who chose not to tour, are they, in turn, going to punish the members of the successful touring party by replacing several of them? I tell you with all certainty....it is sadly bound to happen. The infamous 12 will in the majority be welcomed back with opened arms.
The Test team burning issues will surely be" 1 The captaincy; 2 The opening combination; 3 The returning players.
In my view, the real issues of concern for CWI should be: 1 The ODI and T20 teams; 2 The new electoral challenge for the presidency.
You’ll easily notice that I’ve not mentioned the captaincy as a real issue, as the former skipper is currently maintaining his current form in losing three out of four matches in the ongoing Super 50 Cup (Antigua). To me, it’s a no-brainer. Maybe it’s also wiser to simply fill the ODI and T20 squads with franchise pros. Don’t get any of them near to the Test team.
In the Caribbean, we have the real opportunity to once again begin to grow as a cricketing entity or as usual, be the masterminds behind our own demise.
Andre P Lawrence
Former national cricket player