Windies decline still evident

Published : May 16, 2009 00:00 IST

Show of grit from men outside the touring team’s big three — Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul — held up England but longed-for West Indian renaissance is still a way off, writes Vic Marks.

A strike among the cricketers of the Caribbean is not imminent. That threat only ever comes to the surface after a West Indian victory.

A sad pattern has emerged in recent times: West Indies win a game, or a series, as was the case against England two months ago, and the players’ representatives are emboldened to challenge the way in which their administrators run the game and c are for the players in the Caribbean. And suddenly all the talk of a West Indian renaissance is put on hold. Instead there is speculation over whether they have a team at all.

The odd thing is that just about everyone in cricket craves a Caribbean revival, which is hard to fathom for those who experienced West Indies’ domination throughout the 1980s. Then they were relentless, supremely gifted and — this is more easily forgotten — highly disciplined. The game needed someone to challenge their stranglehold but they kept churning out victories forged by ruthless pace bowling. It was hard to imagine that we would ever yearn for a strong West Indies again.

But that has been the case over the last decade. So when West Indies defeated England 1-0 early this year, just about everyone beyond the confines of the ECB and Team England welcomed their success. The Caribbean is a great place to tour not only because you don’t have to be frisked several times before gaining entry into the grounds; cricket is embedded in the culture.

Until Brendan Nash and Denesh Ramdin joined forces to add 143, the tourists’ performance at Lord’s had been so feeble that any talk of green shoots was likely to receive ridicule on a scale usually reserved for members of the government talking about the recession. For two days only Fidel Edwards had displayed the skill or spirit required and he was all too easily undermined by the inability of his team-mates to hold on to the ball, albeit in conditions so cold that fielders’ fingers acquired the properties of Twiglets.

Chris Gayle had left himself open to charges of mercenary neglect by staying for an extra game in the IPL. Ramnaresh Sarwan, impregnable upon brown pitches in the Caribbean, looked disconcerted by the sight of green grass and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, against all expectation, was dismissed by two of the three balls he received from Graeme Swann. Take out this triumvirate so quickly and the tourists are bound to struggle.

But at least Ramdin and Nash have grit. Ramdin’s qualities surfaced when he captained the West Indies Under-19s often against Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara. As a batsman he loiters on the back foot, giving himself more time to play his shots. Some of his strokeplay must have reassured Mick Hunt, the groundsman here that he is still capable of producing a pitch that batsmen treasure. However, that preference for the backfoot contributed to his downfall when a Stuart Broad delivery came down the hill.

Nash is the unlikeliest of West Indian Test cricketers, not just because he was born in Western Australia. He does not suggest Test class. Off-side carves sometimes look cumbersome, deft flicks over the ’keeper flukey. Allan Border or Jimmy Adams must be his mentors, rather than David Gower or Brian Lara. West Indies now treasure his tenacity at No. 6, where he averages 44. But they need the big triumvirate to fire at Chester-le Street — along with some warm sunshine — to have a chance of keeping the Wisden Trophy.


First Test, Lord’s, May 6-8. England won by 10 wickets.

England — 1st innings: A. Strauss c Ramdin b Taylor 16; A. Cook b Edwards 35; R. Bopara c Nash b Taylor 143; K. Pietersen c Ramdin b Edwards 0; P. Collingwood c Smith b Edwards 8; M. Prior c Simmons b Edwards 42; S. Broad c Taylor b Benn 38; T. Bresnan lbw b Benn 9; G. Swann (not out) 63; J. Anderson c Ramdin b Edwards 1; G. Onions b Edwards 0; Extras (b-1, lb-5, w-7, nb-9) 22. Total: 377.

Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-92, 3-92, 4-109, 5-193, 6-262, 7-275, 8-368, 9-377.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 24-2-83-2; Edwards 26.3-4-92-6; Baker 24-5-75-0; Benn 27-4-84-2; Nash 2-1-2-0; Simmons 5-1-24-0; Gayle 3-0-11-0.

West Indies — 1st innings: C. Gayle b Broad 28; D. Smith b Swann 46; R. Sarwan c Prior b Broad 13; L. Simmons c Strauss b Onions 16; S. Chanderpaul c Collingwood b Swann 0; B. Nash c Collingwood b Swann 4; D. Ramdin lbw b Onions 5; J. Taylor c Prior b Onions 0; S. Benn c Swann b Onions 2; F. Edwards (not out) 10; L. Baker lbw b Onions 17; Extras (lb-10, w-1) 11. Total: 152.

Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-70, 3-99, 4-99, 5-117, 6-117, 7-117, 8-119, 9-128.

England bowling: Broad 11-0-56-2; Swann 5-2-16-3; Anderson 7-0-32-0; Onions 9.3-1-38-5.

West Indies — 2nd innings: C. Gayle c Swann b Anderson 0; D. Smith b Onions 41; R. Sarwan b Anderson 1; L. Simmons c Cook b Onions 21; S. Chanderpaul c Bopara b Swann 4; B. Nash c Cook b Broad 81; D. Ramdin b Broad 61; J. Taylor lbw b Swann 15; S. Benn b Swann 0; F. Edwards c Bresnan b Broad 2; L. Baker (not out) 2; Extras (b-8, lb-18, w-2) 28. Total: 256.

Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-22, 3-70, 4-75, 5-79, 6-222, 7-243, 8-246, 9-249.

England bowling: Anderson 15-6-38-2; Broad 19.2-2-64-3; Bresnan 7-3-17-0; Swann 17-4-39-3; Onions 12-2-64-2; Bopara 2-0-8-0.

England — 2nd innings: A. Strauss (not out) 14; A. Cook (not out) 14; Extras (nb-4) 4. Total (for no loss) 32.

West Indies bowling: Edwards 3.1-0-12-0; Taylor 3-0-20-0.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009

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