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Not quite Caribbean cricket

An overall decline in standards of play and the board at war with its players have reduced the series in the Caribbean islands to a mockery of sorts. Pradeep Magazine writes.

columns Updated: Jun 11, 2011 01:49 IST
Pradeep Magazine

Is it fatigue that is driving fans away from the ongoing India-West Indies series or is this a manifestation of a much larger malaise afflicting international cricket at the moment? Hard to say, especially when even the quality of cricket on display is, to use a mild word, poor.

You rub your eyes first in disbelief and then in anguish while watching the West Indian bowlers turn their arms and bowl at a speed that would embarrass even the "worst" medium pace bowlers of the world. Is this the same team which, once upon a time, sent shivers down the spines of the best of batsmen?

There have been many interpretations of why the West Indies team has slowly disintegrated, but it's still hard to believe a decline that makes them now the worst team in the world, be it their bowling, batting or fielding.

What has also pushed them to the brink of a precipice is the board at war with a few of its best players, which is turning this series into a mockery. Apart from no Chris Gayle, they are refusing to select a couple of quality fast bowlers who could have intimidated a raw Indian batting side. The IPL has inflicted many a wound on international teams, the West Indies being just one of them. Without getting into the debate on who is to be blamed for this fiasco - whether the selfish Indian Board or the obdurate West Indies Board officials - the casualty has been the game itself.

With due respect and even apologies to this talented young bunch of Indian players who have won the first two matches without fuss, the quality of play has been so mediocre that even if we were not suffering from cricket exhaustion, it would have been difficult to watch live action.

A couple of years ago, a young Indian team struggled against Zimbabwe away from home and even lost to them. The Indians, without their key players, are finding it easier to beat the West Indians, which just goes to show that the very survival of cricket could be under threat in the Caribbean. That is why it makes very little sense why the West Indies board is not sorting out the problems it has with some of its players, whose return could make this series competitive enough for us to at least make an attempt to watch it.

If things are allowed to drift, we may reach a stage where the West Indians may be good enough to produce only some thrilling T20 cricketers who will be up for grabs in the IPL, but whose value to the national team could be of little worth.

That indeed will be a great tragedy for a sport that wants to globalise but, in reality, is shrinking further from the already limited number of quality teams that play cricket.