What's holding the West Indies back?

What’s holding the West Indies back?

The West Indies cricket team is in a good place than what they were in a few years ago. But they aren’t a great team yet.

West Indies captain Jason Holder
West Indies captain Jason Holder. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

With Jos Buttler catching Jermaine Blackwood down the leg side on a rather innocuous delivery by Stuart Broad, ended the 3rd match of the series and final Test match of the Wisden Trophy, which will now sit quietly in the Lord’s museum.

The series marked cricket’s international return after around 4 months due to the disastrous Covid-19 and the first Test at the Rose Bowl served as the perfect beginning as the visitors defied victory to the hosts on the final day. In the 4th innings, the West Indies were tasked with 200 runs on the final day and with the help of Jermaine Blackwood’s fighting knock, they took the lead against the Ben Stokes led England.

The return of Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes in the team ensured that England overpowered the Men in Maroon to win back to back Test matches at the Old Trafford, thus regaining the Wisden Trophy in its last outing. Let’s be honest with each other, if it wasn’t for the rain, the last two matches wouldn’t have even gone to the final day.

The West Indies cricket team is in a good place than what they were in a few years ago. But they aren’t a great team yet. This is all because of one thing – their batting. It is the thorn in their bush, it is the hurdle on their path, it is what’s holding them back from becoming a great team.

The Lack of Big Scores

There was a total of 12 individual 50+ scores from England in the series from 8 different batsmen, of which Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes went past the 100 run mark with Ollie Pope and Rory Burns registering 90+ scores.

For the West Indies, there were only 8 individual 50+ scores from 5 different batsmen. None of them breached the three-figure mark, the highest being Blackwood’s 95.

Just Poor Records

Since his debut in May 2011, no opener, who has played at least 70 innings, scores at an average poorer than Kraigg Brathwaite’s 33.08.

Shai Hope, having a wonderful record in the One Day format, clearly struggles in the longer version of the game. With just 1603 runs in 34 matches at a shoddy average of 26.28, he hasn’t scored a Test hundred in around 3 years. What’s more problematic is that if we leave out the Headingley heist, where he scored twin centuries, this number drops down to 22.68.

Dowrich was seen in deep waters against the short length deliveries during the series, returning with minimal numbers. His average of 29.36 is the worst for any player who has played at least 40 innings as a designated wicketkeeper.

There is not one West Indies batsman in the current squad who averages more than 35 in Tests. Now that’s worrying if you want to win overseas. All the hard work done by bowlers goes wasted if batsmen don’t back them up with runs. They do, for long enough of course, and the team becomes hard to beat.

The Guide To A Great Team

Now, there have been two teams in the modern world who can claim themselves as World Beaters and both of them had one thing in common. The firepower in both the batting and bowling department. 

The first was the West Indies in the 1970s and 1980s. If that team had the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, they also had at their disposal the service of Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Llyod, Desmond Haynes and others.

The second was the Australian team of the 2010s. They had in their ranks the class of Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and others to match the brilliance of Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie etc. 

A general review of these both these teams clearly suggests that you can’t be good at one thing and average at the other and expect to be successful. Bowlers need to aid the batsmen while the batsmen have to back up the bowler’s efforts, this is the guide to be able to achieve success. There is no one in the world who will tell you otherwise.

Not everyone is destined to greatness. Not every team either. As an individual, all anyone can do is to give it your best shot and improve the odds. The rest will take care of itself.