I, like many of you, remain utterly frustrated with the executive of the T&T Football Association (TTFA). It makes absolutely no sense writing anything more about them. They just don't seem to care about our football, much less our footballers in T&T. They sent our Soca Princesses to be embarrassed in the recently concluded 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship, the tournament which serves as the qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
The team ended with zero points and conceded 14 goals from three matches. But the one thing the TTFA executive appears good at is keeping all the contracts and financials for their beloved 'home of football' top secret. They are so talented; the way they shift information, the executive should run for office in the Chess Association. Imagine, a TTA Board member has to take them to court to gain access to the Association's financial records and contracts relating to the controversial project in Couva. Am I missing something here? Of course not. This is their modus operandi.
The once mighty Windies (25 years ago) were crushed by India in the 2 test matches both inside 3 days but I hope no one was surprised, as I had indicated we would have needed a major miracle to get anything from the series. So naturally, to rub salt into an extremely bad wound and ensure it hurts, even more, the International Cricket Council (ICC) deducted 1 rating point to leave us still languishing in 9th spot with 76 points ahead of Bangladesh on 67 points. What's interesting is the Windies tour the “Tigers” next month for a crucial 2 test series. Having beaten them here last month in a two test series quite convincingly, one has to hope we will come out on top in the series. If the unthinkable were to happen and we lose in Bangladesh, then the Tigers could well be turning around to look at us behind them in the rankings but that's all in the future.
I am hoping we are at least competitive in the shorter versions of the game in India from this Sunday, but let us do a little soul searching with this 6 days two test series. Skipper Jason Holder (I still feel sorry for the young man) says it's hard to take. He can't understand the reason why it is happening and everyone needs to put their heads together i.e. the management, selectors and players.
Nice words from Jason; he comes across as an extremely good, humble and level-headed individual. He is without doubt one of the good guys in Windies cricket. Could you imagine if the man being interviewed was Sir Vivian Richards? Do I have to draft a transcript for the interview would be like? Quite simply, Jason, we have some individuals who are just not good enough or to put it another way, we have square pegs in round holes.
Our batting has some talent but when in three innings from four you can't score 200 runs, then serious technical problems arise. Kraigg Brathwaite has a good average of 36.54 with eight centuries and 17 half centuries in 96 innings since making his debut in 2011, but after seven years he is too inconsistent. However, he thinks he is the rock of Gibraltar and cannot be dropped so it matters not if he makes 2, 8 or 78, he will still be in the team.
Kieran Powell also made his debut in 2011 and has an average of 27.98 with 3 centuries and 6 half centuries in 72 innings - a disaster. Shai Hope who debuted in 2015, averages 30.25 in 45 innings with 2 centuries and 4 half centuries. Roston Chase is 34.80 from 44 innings since he debuted in 2016 with 4 centuries and 6 half centuries. I will leave Shimron Hetmyer and Sunil Ambris out as they have only batted 16 and 8 innings respectively. Put that into context with the top 5 Indian batsmen all averaging above 40, with the exception of KL Rahul who averages 37.71 and is in danger of being dropped then Virat Kohli who is in a league of his own with 54.57. We cannot expect 250 and above consistently from our batsmen with the averages they possess.
I have previously written that in our bowling outside of Holder who has improved considerably, Shannon Gabriel when he is aggressive and firing, and Kemar Roach when he is fit, we have no test match spinners. When our faster men are tired and when the pitch is wearing, we have Devendra Bishoo who has a test average of 37.77 and is a shadow of the bowler he was when he made his debut in 2011. Jomel Warrican has only just started his career in 2015 and has an average of 46.92. By contrast, the Indian spinners Ravi Ashwin on 25.44, Ravindra Jadeja on 23.50 and Kuldeep Yadav on 25.26. It is therefore easy to understand the huge gap in the ability of the test teams. To put it into perspective, a donkey has entered a horse race but the owners know the donkey can't win.
So what is the solution? Firstly, our smiling selectors have to make some brave decisions, think outside the box and give other players an opportunity. This crop will soon understand that you are picked by performance and not by name.
They have to identify some gifted 19-21-year-olds from opening batsmen, right down to the middle order, wicketkeepers, fast men and spinners of all types, and train them for 1 year from Sunday to Sunday. Get our legends to spend time with them and give them the right kind of training.
It can be done, we just have to set up the right environment or 'crapaud smoke we pipe' as it is the crapaud who has the lighter in hand to smoke away Windies cricket at international test level.