"There’s no getting away from the WI’ underdog position at the T20 World Cup": Fazeer Mohammed

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"There’s no getting away from the WI’ underdog position at the T20 World Cup": Fazeer Mohammed

In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Fazeer writes about the West Indies' preparations for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, explains why he does not think that the side lead by Nicholas Pooran is likely to come out victorious and feels that India due to the sheer talent at their disposal have a strong chance of winning the tournament.


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In a place like the West Indies, home of the two-time winners and birthplace of so many of the headline performers over the past 15 years, it would be reasonable to think that there would at least be a bit of excitement ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

But there isn’t, and it’s not just because of how poorly the team performed a year ago in the United Arab Emirates in defence of the title won so spectacularly in 2016 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

In fact, there is very little by way of recent form, team stability or inspirational leadership to lift a side that shows ten changes – yes, ten – from the UAE debacle to suggest that the Caribbean side, assuming they get past Scotland, Ireland and Zimbabwe in the qualifying phase, will seriously challenge for a semi-final spot.

Of course, it is quite possible that everything can click at the right time and the likes of skipper Nicholas Pooran, senior all-rounder and former skipper Jason Holder and frontline spinner Akeal Hosein can anchor a concerted West Indies effort to confound the low level of expectation.

But that also assumes the opposition will be caught unawares, and that is quite unlikely given the form shown by defending champions Australia and beaten semi-finalists Pakistan and England. Losing finalists New Zealand appear to be going through some challenges, however they are such erstwhile campaigners who routinely punch above their weight that only the foolhardy will eliminate them from title consideration.

So, it is more than a bit of a stretch to expect an unsettled West Indies team, which arrived Down Under in early October and promptly lost two T20Is to the Aussies, to get it all together in time for a serious pursuit of an unprecedented third hold on the T20 World Cup trophy.

As for those who continue to query the absence of franchise superstars Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, no amount of repeating of the facts related to these two players will change people’s minds.

However, it is worth stating again that Russell was one of the big names who fell flat a year ago and who has since gone on record in clarifying that he will only play for the West Indies again on his terms. Narine, just coming off another outstanding season in the Caribbean Premier League, is regularly quoted as expressing the desire to still play for the West Indies yet doesn’t answer the call when it comes, as in this case.

Still, people will believe what they want to believe, and their names are bound to come up repeatedly in conversation, in and out of the commentary box, as if we don’t know any of these blindingly obvious realities.

What is also at the very front and centre of any dialogue related to West Indies cricket is the repeated occurrences of players pulling out ahead of major assignments.

In this case it is bastman Shimron Hetmyer, who twice declined to board flights for Australia, claiming pressing “family matters,” and has since been replaced by Shamarh Brooks, who probably should have been a first-choice selectee anyway given his match-winning hundred in the CPL semi-final against Hetmyer’s Guyana Amazon Warriors followed by an important 47 as the Jamaica Tallawahs lifted the title in the final against the Barbados Royals.

Hetmyer’s talent is obvious, but so too are his fitness challenges together with other distractions which mean he has spent more time in the last couple of years as the focus of intense speculation and rumour-mongering rather than actually representing the West Indies.

But again, this is nothing new.

Narine pulled out of the squad on the eve of their departure for the 2015 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, citing concerns over his remedied bowling action, even though he had just taken six for nine for Trinidad and Tobago against Guyana in the final of the Super 50 competition.

Batting stylist Carl Hooper was a past master in this regard, twice declaring his unavailability on the eve of the 1996 and 1999 World Cups, retiring altogether from the international game in the latter instance only to return as captain less than two years later.

And although this was not a major world tournament, Brian Lara decided not to travel with the West Indies team for a tri-nation series in Australia in 1995/96 even though he was commenting favourably to the media about looking forward to the challenge mere hours before the squad departed.

This is something that needs to be properly addressed and probably has something to do with a failure to communicate on both sides, together with the perpetuation of an unhealthy adversarial relationship between players and administrators that has been with us as long as there has been a West Indies cricket team.

However, let’s get back to the present.

West Indies are outsiders, no question. In the fast-paced environment of T20 cricket though, where one over with bat or ball can decisively change the course of a match, there are players capable of making a positive difference.

Apart from the quartet already mentioned, Kyle Mayers’ left-handed batting and right-arm seam and swing have proven critical before, power-hitting Rovman Powell can certainly turn it on while Brandon King has that Marlon Samuels-type finesse to his strokeplay.

On the bowling side, pacer Alzarri Joseph has had a very good year across all formats and the two matches against Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup underscored that progress. Odean Smith possesses genuine pace while two surprise selections – left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and previously uncapped leg-spinner Yannic Cariah – can present some challenges in helpful conditions.

Still, there’s no getting away from the West Indies’ underdog position, in the same way that last year’s semi-finalists are again the top dogs, although it would be very surprising if a powerhouse like India falls flat again.

Jasprit Bumrah is a huge loss to their campaign yet with so much available talent in all departments of the game, another group stage exit by India will be almost shocking.
 
WI seemingly have the opposite problem to Pakistan. They've several players who can hit the ball miles but perhaps lacking 1-2 reliable anchors to steady the innings when they lose wickets quickly.

They should enjoy the pace and bounce of Aussie pitches compared to the sluggish UAE tracks, and Alzarri performed well vs Australia in the recent series. However I'll be surprised if they progress deep.
 
Something that Faz alluded to as well

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Squad for the upcoming World T20 is possibly the weakest in comparison to what WI has been putting up in previous editions. However, one can’t take away the raw potential some of the players have even in the current squad. Overall it would be a miracle if they make it to the finals and difficult for them to make it to the semi’s as well.

WI first has to come through the qualifiers which they are expected to unless there is an upset.
 
Always great to listen to Fazeer.

It must be hard being ardent fans of WI cricket considering the mess it has been stuck in for 20 plus years now. The only guys whose absence would be felt would be Hetmyer, Pollard and Bravo.

Russel as much as I like him, don't think was going to be used anything close to ideal. His pace has dipped and his team doesn't trust him to bat higher up the order.

Think in Evin Lewis and Mayers, it's as good of an opening pair as it could get. Then 3,4,5 will be King, Brooks/Charles and Pooran. Powell at 6. Holder at 7, Smith at 8, Akeal Hossein at 9, Alzarri Joseph at 10, and McCoy/Cottrell /Cariah at 11.

Although I would be inclined to push Holder up the order, some how in top 5.

The only thing that's missing is the leadership of Darren Sammy that galvanised his team into being something much more than sum of their parts.
 
Loss to Scotland in Round 1.

How bad will it get for the Windies?
 
T20 cricket anything could happen

Love to see the associates play more T20I instead of watching these boring tamasha leagues go on for months on end
 
Ireland have beaten Scotland made things interesting in Group B. West Indies can breathe a tad easier now because even a loss today won't eliminate them completely but they will have to depend on other results, while a win will have all four teams in the group with a win and a loss.

==

This is what West Indies are down to now!
 
West Indies cricket is dying.

Give it a few more years and they'll just be playing T20 cricket with most of their players just competing in various T20 leagues around the world.
 
WI is utter garbage in this tournament. Sad to see, really. This was the final format where they mattered, and now they’re getting bodied by Associates.

I really do think it’s time to break up WI into separate countries like Jamaica, Trinidad etc. Players from smaller independent islands could go to one of the bigger countries in the Caribbean once they have test status.
 
And now West Indies, the 2-times champions, have been knocked out by Ireland!
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The sad and sorry state of West Indies cricket - once the Kings of cricket, now they fail to get through the qualifying stage of the T20 World Cup <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/T20worldcup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#T20worldcup</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cricket?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cricket</a></p>— Saj Sadiq (@SajSadiqCricket) <a href="https://twitter.com/SajSadiqCricket/status/1583360157504847873?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 21, 2022</a></blockquote>
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Side effects of playing too many pyjama leagues especially IPL are coming out now. Aur khelo IPL. :inti
 
Very sad state of affairs

Grew up watching King Viv, Lara, Marshall etc

Now the WI have some very greedy players only bothered about making money in these tamasha leagues around the world

Can someone explain the thought process of Mayers opening ahead of Lewis & Pooran?
 
Side effects of playing too many pyjama leagues especially IPL are coming out now. Aur khelo IPL. :inti

Lets leave that out.

Because anyone can argue that India is doing fine AND they play IPL.

Issues are elsewhere and the primary one is the lack of pride in playing for their nation(s)
 
Pathetic team.

But those running cricket in the Caribbean also need to take their share of the blame for this fiasco.

West Indies cricket needs a revamp, a total overhaul.
 
The problem with West Indies is there is nothing to bind these cricketers together. Most of these cricketers are of completely different nationalities who are brought together under the banner of West Indies. In this day and age, these cricketers just use the WI name to make a name for themselves to get lucrative T20 league contracts. Why would they care about West Indies? As a subcontinent cricketer would you care about playing for an Asia XI consistently when you can make your money elsewhere?

In years gone by, cricketers knew that if they were to make money, playing for West Indies is their only outlet. Now it's just T20 leagues for them. I don't blame them. A Jamaican does not really care about a Barbadian. They're not even the same countrymen.
 
Pathetic team.

But those running cricket in the Caribbean also need to take their share of the blame for this fiasco.

West Indies cricket needs a revamp, a total overhaul.

Their Test team is not decent. Its their ODI and T20 team that suck. CPL seems to have nothing for them.
 
Pathetic team.

But those running cricket in the Caribbean also need to take their share of the blame for this fiasco.

West Indies cricket needs a revamp, a total overhaul.

There is no such thing as Windies cricket. Its lots of players auditioning for the franchises around the World. The rot started with Lara and its almost complete
 
WICB should be dismantled and each country should be allowed to have their own board and own team to represent.
 
WICB should be dismantled and each country should be allowed to have their own board and own team to represent.

I think you need to brush up on your history. They tried that and it didn't work out.

Also, what makes you think that 8 West Indian domestic teams would fare better than a combined team of all these countries?
 
Lets leave that out.

Because anyone can argue that India is doing fine AND they play IPL.

Issues are elsewhere and the primary one is the lack of pride in playing for their nation(s)

IPL ruined WI Cricketers? :)))

This is too much even for you.

I said all pyjama leagues not just IPL. It all started from IPL. Now please explain what is the reason behind lack of pride in playing for their nation(s) these days? It wasn't the case before, was it? Also explain why cricketers like Narine are active in every pyjama league but nowhere to be seen when it comes to internationals. Same is the case with Andre Russell. Where is Pollard these days?

Pollard's teams:
West Indies, Stanford Superstars, Mumbai Indians, Somerset, South Australia, Adelaide Strikers, Dhaka Gladiators, Barbados Royals, Cape Cobras, Sylhet Super Stars, Karachi Kings, Bloem City Blazers, Dhaka Dynamites, Melbourne Renegades, Multan Sultans, Toronto Nationals, Saint Lucia Kings, Kerala Knights, Peshawar Zalmi, Trinbago Knight Riders, Deccan Gladiators, Deccan Gladiators, World XI, Welsh Fire, London Spirit, Surrey

Andre Rusell's teams:
West Indies, Khulna Royal Bengals, Delhi Capitals, Sylhet Royals, Jamaica Tallawahs, Worcestershire, West Indies A, Kolkata Knight Riders, Knights, Melbourne Renegades, Comilla Victorians, Sydney Thunder, Islamabad United, Nottinghamshire, Dhaka Dynamites, Vancouver Knights, UWI Vice Chancellors XI, Nangarhar Leopards, Northern Warriors, Multan Sultans, Rajshahi Royals, Colombo Kings, Southern Brave, Quetta Gladiators, Deccan Gladiators, Melbourne Stars, Minister Group Dhaka, Manchester Originals, Trinbago Knight Riders

Narine's teams:
Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sydney Sixers, Barisal Burners, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Cape Cobras, Comilla Victorians, Trinbago Knight Riders, Melbourne Renegades, Lahore Qalandars, Dhaka Dynamites, Montreal Tigers, Bengal Tigers, Quetta Gladiators, Deccan Gladiators, Oval Invincibles, Surrey

Indian players only play for one team but look at these guys playing for almost 2 dozen teams. Anyone who thinks pyjama leagues didn't destroy Windies cricket should look at the number of teams these guys play for. This is where they are losing their pride. :inti
 
'Lack of pride' is an empty reason that I don't buy for a second. How exactly are you supposed to feel pride for a made up team name whose only purpose is to bring a number of countries under one umbrella? It's like asking Indian and Pakistani players to feel pride for an Asian XI team.

It's not about pride. People in the Caribbean simply donot care about cricket anymore. They are much more interested in athletics and football.
 
Yeah please go ahead and tell why are West Indies in this state today? List your reasons rather than laughing. :inti

They were playing pajama leagues even when they won 2 World T20's . In fact those guys were big stars in IPL - Gayle, Bravo, Pollard etc.

T20 leagues are not the reason they are getting smashed. . It's a combination of reasons - Nowadays even minnow teams have better bowling plans to counter power hitters .

West Indies T20 cricket has not evolved - they still rely on hitting length deliveries in their arc outta the park.

If you watched the matches , even minnow teams have wisened up and they didn't bowl to their strong areas .

When West Indies won it was in SL and India where the dimensions are smaller and Indian pitches under lights the ball comes in superbly with even medium bounce.

In the UAE and Australia, the dimensions are larger and especially in UAE pitches are slow and Australia has high bounce which means it's harder to hit sixes

They haven't adapted their style of play whereas other teams are getting loads better at T20.
 
There is no such thing as Windies cricket. Its lots of players auditioning for the franchises around the World. The rot started with Lara and its almost complete

Slowly but surely it's been going downhill and most people predicted which way Windies cricket would go.

It's going to take years to turn this around.
 
Yeah please go ahead and tell why are West Indies in this state today? List your reasons rather than laughing. :inti
WI cricket was in decline from late 90s. IPL was first played in 2007.
In a logical world an event that happens after cannot induce failure in past.
But I guess its not logical for you because you probably believe Superman is real and flying right now close to you
 
Lets leave that out.

Because anyone can argue that India is doing fine AND they play IPL.

Issues are elsewhere and the primary one is the lack of pride in playing for their nation(s)

In what world is India doing fine? They exited the previous WC in group stage and failed to make the finals of Asia Cup - were humiliated by Sri Lanka, a team that just lost to Namibia!
 
Slowly but surely it's been going downhill and most people predicted which way Windies cricket would go.

It's going to take years to turn this around.

It can't go much further downhill. It's a entity without a country or players that care. It will always produce the odd brilliant player but it won't ever have a team again worthy of the name
 
They were playing pajama leagues even when they won 2 World T20's . In fact those guys were big stars in IPL - Gayle, Bravo, Pollard etc.

T20 leagues are not the reason they are getting smashed. . It's a combination of reasons - Nowadays even minnow teams have better bowling plans to counter power hitters .

West Indies T20 cricket has not evolved - they still rely on hitting length deliveries in their arc outta the park.

If you watched the matches , even minnow teams have wisened up and they didn't bowl to their strong areas .

When West Indies won it was in SL and India where the dimensions are smaller and Indian pitches under lights the ball comes in superbly with even medium bounce.

In the UAE and Australia, the dimensions are larger and especially in UAE pitches are slow and Australia has high bounce which means it's harder to hit sixes

They haven't adapted their style of play whereas other teams are getting loads better at T20.

Finally someone who understands that it's not just lack of pride or whatever immeasurable factors.

Associates have gotten much better I'm the t20 format especially. Look at what Namibia did to the Asian champions.

West indies was always mediocre except in t20 where they relied on power hitting. But with all bowlers now making good use of variations and Yorkers, WI isn't able to rely on that anymore to get them through.

And in the 70s WI was a powerhouse, but now the Asian teams have much better infrastructure compared to 70s. So it was always going to be tough for WI to keep up with cricket crazy Asian countries with billions of people, who now also have a booming economy.
 
Culture shock: West Indies great has his say on what went wrong in Australia

Two-time ICC Men's T20 World Cup winning captain Daren Sammy has revealed where he thinks it all went wrong for the West Indies at this year's event and what the Caribbean side needs to do to become a powerhouse again.

Sammy knows better than most what it takes to perform on the big stage, with the 38-year-old having captained the West Indies to many of their greatest successes in the shortest format of the game and leading the team to T20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016.

And just like many other former greats, Sammy was shocked to see his old team bundled out of the tournament during the First Round in Australia as they fell to disappointing losses to Scotland and Ireland.

Sammy believes the West Indies got much wrong during their time in Australia and they were tactically inept during much of their three First Round matches.

"I thought as a team we were quite poor tactically and the problem wasn’t the calibre of players as we had enough talent to play much better," Sammy said.

"The cricket we play now doesn’t match the talent we have in the team.

"The team lacked inspiration, they lacked motivation and tactically we were not on song.

"When you look at a wicket and you have Jason Holder who is six-foot-eight (inches) and you have Alzarri Joseph who is bowling well and you keep opening the bowling with Kyle Mayers.

“No disrespect to him (Mayers) as conditions in St Lucia in the Caribbean are quite different to Australia where the ball bounces.

"You have got to win the Powerplays both with the bat and the ball, and we found ourselves losing the Powerplays and having to bring the bowlers back on to try and bring us back into the game, and it was the same with the bat."

The fallout from the West Indies' performance was swift, with Australia great Ricky Ponting labelling their efforts a disgrace and Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt promising a full review into what went wrong Down Under.

Experienced coach Phil Simmons also announced he would stand down from his position at the end of the year and Sammy knows the West Indies must get their next coaching appointment right.

"The sad thing is that not many people are putting their hands up to come and coach the West Indies," Sammy noted.

"Even though we were not performing at Tests and ODI, we dominated T20I cricket (during his playing career) and that was something that would bring smiles to the fans and now we have lost it.

"Whoever comes in (as coach) needs to be tactically sound, have good man management skills and the people around him need to be technically correct.”

Sammy is adamant that the culture must change quickly otherwise the West Indies will find themselves in a mire for some time.

"There needs to be some learnings and some teachings about what we represent as whether you like it or not, West Indies is still every fan's second favourite team,” Sammy said.

"The world needs West Indies cricket to be strong and we were not there tactically and I have spoken about that.

"There needs to be a new inspiration as the team outgrew the staff in the dressing room.

"But we have the guys. You look at Jason Holder, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Shai Hope...there is not lack of talent.

"It is about picking the right personnel for the situation and the different stages that the game needs with proper planning and the right players for the right time."

ICC
 
"It hurts man, it hurts." Darren Sammy's eyes tell it all, the moment he was asked about the terminal decline of West Indies cricket. The Caribbean team hit the nadir at the ongoing T20 World Cup as the two-time champions (2012 and 2016) couldn't even qualify for the Super 12s. As a double T20 World Cup winning skipper, Sammy is bound to be frustrated and angry. But at the same time, he is pragmatic enough to understand the practical difficulties which includes not enough financial security offered by Cricket West Indies (CWI).

Sammy is very clear that unlike BCCI, the West Indies board can never stop its players from choosing franchise leagues over playing for the assortment of island nations. "India is strong because they can tell their players that you don't play anywhere else. You have to understand that they have the money to back it up," Sammy told PTI in an exclusive interview on what ails West Indies cricket.

"An India A list contracted player could probably make a million dollar a year (Rs 7 crore plus match fees plus TV rights money) compared to a Windies A lister, who would earn USD 150,000 (Rs 1.2 crore roughly) .

"That's a massive difference and obviously the question of pay (disparity) will always come up. It's very difficult for smaller boards (in terms of financial might) to keep their players together when they are handsomely paid elsewhere," Sammy said without mincing words while hitting the nail on its head.

A sportsman's peak period is a short one and it's no longer an amateur sport where passion was the biggest ration for men in flannels.

"Gone are those days when you played for love. Love doesn't buy you groceries from supermarket," said Sammy bluntly.

He feels that CWI can learn a thing or two from how New Zealand Cricket has dealt with this dilemma.

"So, it's a tough period. I think NZC does it quite well (no international cricket scheduled during IPL). If NZC can do it, it comes down to communication. It's upto the players and the boards to get a working system." A commitment in a professional relationship demands certain kind of sacrifices.

"If you say, you are committed to me (player to board or vice versa), then some level of sacrifice has to happen. You can't be committed to me when nothing else is available for you."

NDTV
 
Following their comprehensive review of matters related to the performance of the West Indies Men’s team, and their early exit from at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia last year, the independent three-member group appointed by Cricket West Indies (CWI) has submitted their report to CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

The group was chaired by Justice Patrick Thompson Jr., a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and included Brian Lara, the West Indies batting legend and current IPL T20 Head Coach, and South African international cricket coach, Mickey Arthur.

Commenting on the report, CWI President Ricky Skerritt said:

“The quality of this report lends itself to becoming the foundation of the learning and planning culture that we have envisaged for the sustainable improvement of all our cricket teams. It brings great promise and direction after the grave disappointment of our T20 World Cup results. I am extremely grateful for the panel’s commitment to lend so much of their valuable time to this important review project, including carefully interviewing more than 30 players, coaches, administrators, directors, and other stakeholders who I am told spoke so willingly and frankly to the panel. The independent group’s report has been circulated to CWI’s Board of Directors and I look forward to the Board agreeing to implement the 34 recommendations as soon as possible.”
 
Following their comprehensive review of matters related to the performance of the West Indies Men’s team, and their early exit from at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia last year, the independent three-member group appointed by Cricket West Indies (CWI) has submitted their report to CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

The group was chaired by Justice Patrick Thompson Jr., a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and included Brian Lara, the West Indies batting legend and current IPL T20 Head Coach, and South African international cricket coach, Mickey Arthur.

Commenting on the report, CWI President Ricky Skerritt said:

“The quality of this report lends itself to becoming the foundation of the learning and planning culture that we have envisaged for the sustainable improvement of all our cricket teams. It brings great promise and direction after the grave disappointment of our T20 World Cup results. I am extremely grateful for the panel’s commitment to lend so much of their valuable time to this important review project, including carefully interviewing more than 30 players, coaches, administrators, directors, and other stakeholders who I am told spoke so willingly and frankly to the panel. The independent group’s report has been circulated to CWI’s Board of Directors and I look forward to the Board agreeing to implement the 34 recommendations as soon as possible.”

What a waste of time- The Windies are team without an identity and more importantly with players that have no desire to play for them. Isnt it better to let the islands play as individual countries in T20 competitions
 
West Indies won 2012 and 2016 World Cups due to the golden generation.

Now that golden generation has retired, they are supposed to struggle. The new guys haven't been very good so far.

Associate nations like Scotland, Netherlands, and even UAE can challenge this West Indies.
 
Following their comprehensive review of matters related to the performance of the West Indies Men’s team, and their early exit from at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia last year, the independent three-member group appointed by Cricket West Indies (CWI) has submitted their report to CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

The group was chaired by Justice Patrick Thompson Jr., a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and included Brian Lara, the West Indies batting legend and current IPL T20 Head Coach, and South African international cricket coach, Mickey Arthur.

Commenting on the report, CWI President Ricky Skerritt said:

“The quality of this report lends itself to becoming the foundation of the learning and planning culture that we have envisaged for the sustainable improvement of all our cricket teams. It brings great promise and direction after the grave disappointment of our T20 World Cup results. I am extremely grateful for the panel’s commitment to lend so much of their valuable time to this important review project, including carefully interviewing more than 30 players, coaches, administrators, directors, and other stakeholders who I am told spoke so willingly and frankly to the panel. The independent group’s report has been circulated to CWI’s Board of Directors and I look forward to the Board agreeing to implement the 34 recommendations as soon as possible.”

West Indies cricket will "cease to exist as an entity" if the best players in the region represent it only on an "optional" basis while featuring in all T20 leagues. This was one of the conclusions drawn by the review group that Cricket West Indies recently appointed to probe West Indies' failure to get past the first round of the 2022 men's T20 World Cup in Australia.

The terms of reference for the review group was to "identify, investigate, and analyse the factors contributing to the poor performance" before reporting the findings to CWI, which made them public on Thursday. "The untimely exit of the West Indies Men's Team ("the WI Team") from the ICC Men's T20 World Cup ("the World Cup") bears certain similarities to a disaster, albeit one without fatal consequences," the review said.

Pooran's team, the review said, was "underprepared" for the World Cup, with most of the squad having negligible experience of playing "topflight" cricket in Australia. The fact that West Indies' players landed in Australia immediately after the Caribbean Premier League was not lost on the review group. "The World Cup matches were played in wet and cold Hobart, Tasmania, which had more in common with the north of England than West Indian conditions. In the absence of a camp in Australia, the CPL had little meaningful impact on the Team's preparation."

This was a second successive poor performance from West Indies at a T20 World Cup after their failure in the 2021 edition, which was played in the UAE. In that tournament, West Indies were led by Kieron Pollard, who retired last April. Recently Pollard called West Indies' exit from the 2022 World Cup a "sad day" but said he would not blame the players.

"NoCs cannot be weaponized against the player"

The review group, though, underlined the fact that West Indies were not fielding the best available team. Sunil Narine has been a consistent match-winner and impact player in tournaments like the IPL, but he has not made himself available for selection for West Indies for the past several years. Andre Russell, valued as one of the best allrounders in T20 cricket, was not available for the World Cup in Australia. The review group pointed out that Shimron Hetmeyer's absence in Australia "was a significant loss to the batting unit". Hetmeyer failed to board the World Cup flight, and was consequently dropped from the World Cup squad.

Yet all these players have made themselves available for T20 franchise leagues around the world where they get paid big money. While the review said it was "entirely understandable" for players to "maximize their earnings", it warned that this could not come at "the detriment of West Indies Cricket."

"It is not in the best interests of West Indies Cricket that our best players play in every global league and play for the WI Team on an optional basis," the review said. "It is imperative that the Board and the players have a frank and honest discussion with each other in order to arrive at a solution to this impasse. In this Group's view, there is significant distrust between the players and administration and this distrust is inimical to ensuring that the best 11 players turn out for the WI Team in every match.

"No Objection Certificates cannot be weaponized against the players, but it is essential that some middle ground is arrived at. Otherwise, West Indies Cricket may cease to exist as an entity. This Group does not indulge in doomsday predictions but no entity, sporting or otherwise, has a viable future if its talent is not harnessed and effectively managed."

Three-day retreat to address "grouses"

The review pointed out that West Indies had a "golden opportunity to hit the reset button" ahead of the next T20 World Cup, which the West Indies and the USA will co-host in 2024. A key part of that process would be to roll out a strategic plan, and the review group has put in place short-term, medium-term and long-term goals to facilitate such a plan.

One of the short-term recommendations is for the CWI's director of cricket and the selectors to shortlist 30-35 players who will form the pool from which the "nucleus of 15" for the World Cup can be picked. But to ensure all the best players make themselves available for selection, the review group wants CWI to host a three-day "retreat".

"That meeting should be akin to a strategic retreat where players and administration can speak frankly and address any and all grouses (real or imagined) in a constructive manner. Mediator(s) should be secured for this meeting in order to assist and facilitate the discussions contemplated above. The Head Coach, CEO, Director of Cricket, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, WIPA representative, the President and two directors (nominated by the other directors) should be in attendance together with the players.

"A performance consultant who can assist the players and management to define West Indies cricket culture, identity and values is essential to this process. It is important that this meeting is convened in a round table format as opposed to management on a raised platform and players on a lower level."

Finally, as part of the short-term strategic goal, the review group wants the shortlisted pool of players to feature in "as much red ball cricket for WI as possible", as that would provide "vital opportunities for primarily white ball players to develop their overall cricketing skills" against better-quality Test teams, which in turn would automatically enhance their preparation for the 2024 T20 World Cup.

As per the ICC's Future Tours Program, West Indies are scheduled to play Test series against Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, Australia and Pakistan between now and the next T20 World Cup. The review group has recommended that some of the white ball players including Pooran, Evin Lewis, Akeal Hosein, Odean Smith, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King and Rovman Powell should play Test cricket against Australia and Pakistan at least.

"Following this Group's consultations, we hold the strong view that red ball, and in particular Test cricket, against the Test Teams ranked above us provides vital opportunities for primarily white ball players to develop their overall cricketing skills.

"As a necessary corollary of the strategic retreat, all parties must clearly determine what is meant by availability for selection. In this Group's considered view, the selectors should be encouraged, if not mandated to always select the best 11-13 players for the WI Team in all formats. Once selected, the onus would then be on the players to determine whether they will make themselves available within an agreed upon timeframe."
 
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