It looks a near impossible dream

WHAT now for the West Indies? The number one requirement is a team and unselfish team spirit. In mentioning this vital aspect I am not just talking about the players but from the West Indies Board down.

WHAT now for the West Indies? The number one requirement is a team and unselfish team spirit. In mentioning this vital aspect I am not just talking about the players but from the West Indies Board down.

Getting together the best players in the West Indies to represent the whole of the Caribbean cricketing nations is a near impossible dream.

After all, you have at least 8 different countries with their own laws, history, cricket associations and ambitions.

The West Indies is only a geographical description of an area.

The only thing they do together is play cricket. In the early Sixties the federation of the West Indies was founded to bring the various countries together and to provide a unified group to promote that lovely part of the world, to assist the building of a much stronger and aggressive plan to promote business and tourism.

It lasted barely twelve months, with infighting and self interests making it impossible to achieve the goals the federation had set.

The West Indies Cricket Board suffers from the same problems where individual islands being more concerned about local interests, rather than viewing the big picture.

West Indies cricket can only survive and prosper with a strong international team. It is impossible for any individual country to survive on local money and they are all dependant on hand outs from the West Indies Board, accumulated through overseas tours, sponsorships and TV fees.

Even Tests and ODIs are lucky to break even in some of the poorer regions.

I am finding it very difficult to understand the planning and selection of West Indies recent Test teams.

The Brian Lara captaincy reappointment is fascinating. Carl Hooper, who from a very low base seemed to be establishing a better and harmonious team, was surprisingly removed as skipper.

Chairman of Selectors Viv Richards went public on this announcing that fellow selectors — Gordon Greenidge, Joey Carew and Brian Lara were behind Hooper's omission.

Lara denied this, but Hooper still announced his retirement from Test cricket.

Just what Richards hoped to achieve by such an announcement is hard to follow, particularly as he had been most unpopular with the players when he was the West Indies coach, a short time ago.

Even more mystifying was the team selected for the second Test.

The West Indies had to win, or at least not lose this Test, to stay in the running to regain the Frank Worrell Trophy.

Yet, they went into the Trinidad Test with three quickies on a ground that has always been spin friendly. I was particularly amazed with the selection of young Jamaican batsman David Bernard as a bowler.

I have worked with David for two years and while he is a very promising batsman he is certainly not a Test bowler.

History tells the story. Australia lost only seven wickets in two innings and scored 814 runs and easily won the Test.

The West Indies scored 696 runs in their two innings, Lara contributed 213, Ganga 119 and sundries at 74 were the next highest scorer.

The Windies have been a little unlucky with injuries to Chanderpaul, but it doesn't justify the poor thinking and planning of the selectors. There is no doubt that Australia is a far stronger combination than the Windies. They have players to handle any situation and condition.

The West Indies on the other hand has an ordinary bowling attack, a nucleus of good batsmen. But with some inclined too often to be over ambitious.

Chanderpaul has been feted for his wonderful century off only 69 deliveries in Guyana. It was an exciting, thrilling innings but one that didn't suit the occasion.

He came in with the West Indies in trouble and they still were when he went for another outrageous stroke was out for exactly 100.

The brittle West Indies batting collapsed under pressure and by the end of the first day's play in the first Test Australia was in control.

The West Indies must look to batsmen who have a history of batting for at least five hours. At present there are far too many exciting but fragile batsmen in their top six. Brian Lara needs players who can bat around him and make the Australian bowlers work hard for their wickets.

At one stage the West Indies had a chance to save the second Test.

As a generalisation the West Indies batsmen attempt too many boundaries. It is interesting to note Wavell Hinds hit 5 fours in scoring 20 in the first innings in Trinidad and 7 fours out of 35 runs in the second.

Sarwan hit 5 fours out of 26 in the first innings and 6 out of 34 runs in the second. In between the fours they are receiving plenty of deliveries and doing virtually nothing with them.

Contrast this with Lara who is scoring less than 50 per cent of his runs in fours and Ricky Ponting even when he scored 206 only hit 24 fours.

What the better batsmen are doing of course is taking the pressure off themselves by working the ball about and rotating the strike.

The other West Indies batsmen just can't get off strike and eventually go for a big shot off the wrong ball and get out.

Until Brian Lara and Chanderpaul get support from the other batsmen they will not be able to get enough runs to put pressure on the Australians.

If the Windies selectors want to do something about containing and putting pressure on the Australian batsmen, I suggest they look at Australia's scoring rate and how few maiden overs they are bowling.

In Australia's first innings they scored at 4.3 runs per over in that innings of 133 overs, the Windies bowled only 9 maidens in the second innings. They only achieved 6 maidens from 66 overs even though the wicket was quite uneven.

I hate to compare eras. For if you do it critically you will be accused of viewing your own time through rose coloured glasses. On this occasion, I will.We continually hear we are in the most professional era in cricket's history.

If this is the case why do I see so many loose four balls being delivered and why can't bowlers of today restrict the very fast scoring rate.

My 50 years in cricket have proved to me — a good length, good line ball is as difficult to hit now as 20, 40 or even 50 years ago. It is a pity now we are not seeing as many good balls as a matter of course as we once did.