(Editorial) The West Indies effectively bowed out of the 2019 ICC World Cup yesterday with a loss to frontrunners New Zealand at Old Trafford, Manchester. Allrounder Carlos Brathwaite and veteran opener Chris Gayle, in his last international tournament before retirement from this level, tried their best with 87 and 101 respectively but came up just short as the Kiwis held their nerve to win by just five runs.
The West Indies still have three more games to complete their nine-match schedule but these will be academic as they cannot force their way into the play-off phase of the tournament.
Now comes the hard part for recently elected Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt. Already with a difficult task to mend some of the broken bridges and fractured relationships left by his predecessor Dave Cameron, Skerritt will have some tough decisions to make.
This tournament has been a disaster for skipper Jason Holder, although it had promised to be much more after their opening seven-wicket win over Pakistan at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on May 31. But things quickly fell apart and four matches later, after losses to Australia, England and Bangladesh, the West Indies were again in the familiar situation of having to dig deep—a feat they simply could not achieve given the resources they had.
Skerritt must have a quick post-mortem on this campaign when the team returns home. Some of the issues would have been inherited from Cameron’s reign. Indeed, some of the better players were either sidelined through dictates from the former CWI head or made themselves unavailable for selection due to poor relationships they had with him and other board members. The end result was the selection of an imbalanced team that simply did not have the resources to beat the world’s best in England.
There are many things which have so far gone awry with Holder’s team but many of them have been self-inflicted. Interim coach Floyd Reifer and Holder must explain, for example, why they stuck with an obviously unfit Andre Russell when it was clear he was more of a liability to the team. They still also clearly haven’t finalised a batting or bowling lineup, as clearly exhibited by the fact both were adjusted by the match.
That said, now could be the opportune time for Reifer and Holder to give the players who have been on the bench so far and the young players in the starting team a chance in the remaining matches since they could likely be the nucleus of the ODI side going forward.
Skerritt, meanwhile, could take this opportunity to approach Phil Simmons, who is also having a woeful time with his Afghanistan team at the tournament, to return to the Windies side and take it into the future. That future, however, will also be better served with a new skipper, since Holder may have shown at this tournament that he is not the man to lead the ODI team.