ICC World Cup: Not having West Indies sad, but is it surprising?

The failure to make the cut for the World Cup this time, mind you, was not an outcome of simply one bad day in office against Scotland on Saturday – rather it was a last nail in the coffin

West Indies cricket team (Photo: Twitter/ @CricCrazyJohns)
West Indies cricket team (Photo: Twitter/ @CricCrazyJohns)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The morning after is certainly a sad one for a cricket romantic – and have been an admirer of the Caribbean flair. However, it was like their worst fears coming true as the West Indies, champions of the first two editions of the 50-overs World Cup, will not be a part of the upcoming showpiece in India for the first time in it’s 48-year history.

If one takes the emotional quotient out of it, was it really unexpected? Not quite, if you consider the fact that ahead of the previous edition of the event in 2019, they actually failed to qualify automatically and had to take the qualifiers route – making the grade along with Afghanistan. Meanwhile in 2017, the last time the ICC Champions Trophy was played, they failed to qualify altogether.

The failure to make the cut for the World Cup this time, mind you, was not an outcome of simply one bad day in office against Scotland on Saturday – rather it was a last nail in the coffin. They could not carry forward any points to the Super Six stage as they had failed to beat Zimbabwe and Netherlands, the other two teams from their group, and the humiliating seven-wicket defeat to an associate member nation like Scotland has now put the qualification beyond reach.

The terminal decline of the West Indies cricket, throughout the new millennium has actually stopped creating the ripples for a while – with their performance oscillating between the sublime and the ridiculous. While nobody really expected them to dominate in the longest format of the game like in the Seventies and Eighties, the likes of Chris Gayle & Co often had their moments in the white ball format – they emerged as surprise winners in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004 (under Brian Lara’s captaincy) while their success in the two T20 World Cup triumphs in 2012 and 2016 is still fresh in memory.

How did such a calamity befall a team which boasted of the likes of Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Alzarri Joseph, Romario Shepherd or Akeal Hossein – who had set the Indian Premier League (IPL) alight only a month back and are much sought-after performers in the world of franchise cricket? The problem lies in the fact that while they were assembled in the qualifiers, the West Indies had put in a terrible performance in the qualification cycle from 2020-23 for the World Cup, winning just nine of the 24 matches at stake to finish as the ninth team in the table.

During the ODI Super League, there were very few occasions when the West Indies could not put up an united front – missing out on most of their big names who were not really interested in the pride of the maroon shirt anymore. There was also a leadership vaccum since last year when Kieron Pollard hung up his boots from all forms of international cricket at 34 years.

A frustrated skipper Shai Hope did not hold back in his post mortem of the disaster. ‘’We let ourselves down in the entire tournament. The preparation needs to be better. We cannot come here and expect to be an elite team without preparation. We cannot expect to wake up one morning and be a great team. We need to look at all areas. We have to go one way from here and that is up. I don’t think we gave that 100% effort ever single time. We only did it in patches,’’ he said.

 Point taken, Hope. But is there anyone listening?

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