One’s really not sure as to what might the West Indies do in what’s left of the Sri Lanka series anyway. It was always just 2 Tests and two alone.
With one already done, the Galle game reaching the final day – though only Bonner, Cornwall and Da Silva will know how- all that remains is hope. Not Shai though, for there’s little Hope that the right-hander has generated.
This is when he was never picked in the Test side as an automatic pick and yet, found a chance to represent the West Indies, if only as a last-minute concussion replacement. Brilliant were those days when Shai Hope made those gruelling albeit heartstopping centuries in England.
But terrible are these days where the very batsman that gave us all such great hope, (much like his name), to take the Caribbean Test cricket to heights, has spiralled to a sad decline. If knocks like 10 and 3, which is what the Bajan managed from the First Test, aren’t considered a mark of decline then what is?
Not that Chase, Hope’s good friend and compatriot was any inspiring. Ineffective in the World Cup and insipid in this contest when runs were needed. Not that Holder and Mayers, both of whom made precious runs in the first inning could repeat their efforts in the inning where it all mattered.
But is that all; are these the only problems that confront the West Indies? Frankly, the team is in a soup. It tastes bitter. Sour even. Watching their cricket’s highlight or consuming the soup is one and the same thing. An exercise in needless idling of time. A process of frustration.
Perhaps their fans and time have actually come for them to be extended the ceremonious award- if only one existed- for displaying outstanding patience under extreme circumstances.
What on earth is the West Indian fan made of? Frank question. Which god particle has been manifested in his or her DNA that the person can withstand what no mortal can- the painful endurance of the layer by layer unravelling of a cricketing colossus that was once the West Indies.
A building that today stands shattered as if it was struck by a massive earthquake. The only difference is that more than colliding with a mighty force of nature, this is a structure that self capitulates. Time and again, forget that not.
It’s not that the Lankan bowlers didn’t bowl well or didn’t toil hard; on the contrary, they made the Windies batsmen appear sullen, confused. Worst still- clueless.
You understand almost immediately which opponent is enjoying an upper hand when as a bowling side you don’t feel the need to introduce a fast bowler or medium pace. Embuldeniya and Mendis- spinners that the world may never have considered wily, foxy characters- found in Windies banal bunnies.
Batsmen that lacked courage. Batsmen that lacked imagination. Moreover, batsmen that failed to apply any footwork. The same Embuldeniya who punctured the Windies hopes of any runs was being sent to the outfield and regularly so for one boundary or quick single after another in the Caribbean.
Against him, a quarter of a year back were the same men of the Windies team that in Sri Lanka, played like absent-minded boys. Against Mendis, about whom very little was seen or known, certainly came like an out of syllabi question. But what is one to do?
Wage wars if an additional – if also- unwanted guest turns up at the door of the house or bear with it and find a solution to dislodge him without ever using violence?
Sri Lanka, having exposed the glaring issue in West Indies cricket, will only exacerbate the visitors’ hopes by unleashing these two yet again in the final Test. Yet, the West Indies, on their part will have to quickly regroup and come up with a solution to at least look for a way to lessen the insult they’ve copped up.
Who do they go to but? Who’s going to actually guide them on how to play Lankan spinners in testing subcontinental conditions? Legend has it that coach Rahul Dravid was reached out to once by Kevin Pietersen. The English great wanted assistance to know how to handle spinning conditions in Asia.
And guess what, Dravid replied back. So beautifully and purposefully so that the former right-hander from South Africa actually wrote back to him, thanking “The Wall” for the politest of gestures. The wall, right!
But does this hold any lesson for Windies’ journey? Ian Chappell had once famously said that “Team in trouble- whom do you turn to? Rahul Dravid!”. Whom would the West Indians consult in the wake of a similar question?
Sarwan. Chanderpaul. No? Brian Charles Lara? Ever heard his name? Still holds the record for the highest individual Test score. How about just picking up that phone and reaching out. Whether to Lara or Chanderpaul?
How about simply sitting back and watching some of their videos, the manner in which they saved many a game for the West Indies? The manner in which they exhibited the very element that today seems lost in the Caribbean cricket.
Fight! Fighting instincts!
Do you really think asking in all humility from Lara or Chanderpaul about the right approach toward spin would lead to damaging results? Would their hearts not be getting crushed anyways seeing, time and again, the meek surrender displayed by the present team?
God only knows why Brian Lara, nowadays so often in front of the camera, is not being sought to guide the struggling youngsters?
Will Phil Simmons or some other coaching staff or support staff actually take strong actions against a Chase or Hope in the event of the duo asking for help? How difficult is it in today’s era of technology and endlessly elaborate data to get answers to perhaps every single in-depth technical query that may be puzzling a cricketer?
It’s about time the wonderful collection of talents that are still proudly representing the West Indies sought all possible help. Who would call Hope, Cornwall, Mayers, Holder, Bonner not fine talents; they all are?
But where’s the application. The consistency. All of that missing pieces in the puzzle. Remember, there’s never a shame in asking for support. But always a shame in surrendering without trying.