“We can’t complain all the time about the pitches, and we’re not changing as individuals.” Those were the words uttered by Trinbago Knight Riders – and West Indies white-ball captain – Kieron Pollard to combat the argument that the pitches were to blame for the low scores throughout the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League 2020. As he lamented the reality that the mentality of the batsmen across the region isn’t where it needs to be, he all but sounded disheartened by the thought that a selection of these very players is who he’ll have to lead when he takes WI onto the field for their next international assignment.
Sub-standard efforts by West Indies players in the longest format of the game have over time become par for the course, but what we’ve been able to look forward to in recent years is strong batting performances in our regional CPL T20 tournament, the emergence of the next generation, and the dominance of our regional stars. If that’s also on the decline, the situation in the region might be even worse than imagined.
It can’t be stressed enough that adaptation and concentration are as integral to mastering the game of cricket as talent or sheer power. Instead of showing signs of improvement year over year, even the more established players looked like they’d be better served contributing to the agricultural sector with their “yam-licking” shot selections.
Some credit should certainly be given to the bowlers as there were some stand-out performances throughout the tournament, but the batting display left a lot to be desired. The inclination of some to swing at every ball without consideration for line, length, flight or turn can only be described as comical. Team after team, batsman after batsman seemed all but intent on inadequately outdoing the other.
The fact that the Jamaica Tallawahs, though failing to win any of their last five matches (one was a no-result), were still able to make the semi-finals with a paltry 7 points from a possible 20 is a clear indicator that this was nowhere near Jamaica’s best showing. A JT batting roster that boasted names like Andre Russell, captain Rovman Powell, Chadwich Walton and Jermaine Blackwood somehow managed to look worse than last year’s unit that only managed two wins. Walton continues to look like his best years are far behind him, as he averaged a whopping 3 from 8 matches, while Carlos “Remember The Name” Brathwaite’s batting exploits are begging to be forgotten after registering scores of 1, 5, 1, 0, 21*, 0*, 1, and 13*. The Guyana Amazon Warriors had an “okay” tournament, but chose the worst day to have their worst day, struggling to 55 all out in their semi-final vs the St Lucia Zouks. Shimron Hetymer, Brandon King and Nicholas Pooran were among the lot with West Indies credentials that failed to deliver in that match, while using a few performances to mask a mediocre tournament. Pooran, for instance, had scores of 100* and 68, which on their own would be commendable, but, when you consider that he had a total of 245 runs from 11 innings then his tournament exploits lose some of its luster.
Hard-hitting opener Evin Lewis and the rest of the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots could only register two half- centuries collectively (the other by Joshua Da Silva), which would explain why they only managed one victory from 10 matches played. Realizing that the once highly touted Kieran Powell only featured three times in this team is yet another reminder that talent alone can take you but so far.
Jason Holder, Johnson Charles and the confidence-shattered Shai Hope offered little to the title defense of 2019 champions Barbados Tridents. On three separate occasions the Tridents failed to even score 100 runs, which includes a failed attempt to score 92 for victory. Again, without discrediting the bowling, should a team really be able to defend 92 runs without the chasing batsmen shouldering all the blame?
From start to finish, TKR (under Pollard’s leadership and Brendon McCullum’s coaching) showed their supremacy with bat and ball. Unfortunately, however, their historic achievement might just be the only bit worth remembering as the competition overall under-delivered, while the regional batsmen, in particular, underperformed. We can’t continue to make excuses; we simply have to do better.
*- not out