Windies can start rebuilding now

(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.