by Rex Clementine
Can you imagine a World Cup without the West Indies? The champions of the first two editions of sport’s showpiece event and the finalists in the first three World Cups taught every team how to play the limited overs format of the game. Yet, they have failed to make it to the 13th edition of the tournament that will get underway in India in a fortnight’s time.
The writing was on the wall for the sport’s best entertainers. While eight teams qualified automatically for India 2023, two sides would earn slots through a qualification tournament which was held in June this year in Zimbabwe.
West Indies failed to turn up and didn’t even finish fourth best as they lost to Zimbabwe, Scotland, Sri Lanka and Netherlands and their fate was sealed in Harare.
There’s no dearth of talent in the West Indies. There are plenty of white ball specialists who excel in the 50 over format in their ranks. But questions remains whether they picked the right squad having packed the side with flat out pace options while most other teams relied heavily on seam bowling options to go with the early winter conditions in Zimbabwe.
Most sides opted to bowl first with day games offering seam bowlers some assistance and West Indies batters weren’t equipped to deal with the challenge early on their innings like it happened against Scotland when they were 81 for six in what was a must win second round game.
Their fielding woes too let them down with too many dropped catches hurting them.
At the end of the competition captain Shai Hope admitted that West Indies’ preparation could have been much better.
The setback is only a continuation of West Indies’ rapid decline. They just managed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England having edged out Scotland into the final in a game marred by rain.
West Indies had appeared to be turning things around in the sport with their Under-19 team winning the ICC Youth World Cup in 2016. Most players who were part of that squad have now graduated to the senior team and this fall from grace comes as a bitter pill to swallow for a team that has fans from all over the world.
The West Indies will be hosting next year’s ICC T-20 World Cup and hopefully that is an occasion to start a new chapter in the sport for them.