I read the comments on West Indies cricket and the many mixed opinions of those who supposedly know the game and those who obviously don’t. There is some confusion as to what is entitled emotional responses and those who feel that WI cricket should be abolished.
This has come about because of the very poor showing, bar the captain Kraigg Brathwaite, by our cricketers recently in two Test matches in Australia. The Aussie cricketers have been ruling the cricket world recently and the WI, with their poor record in all formats, are no match for them.
Test cricket is a distinctive game of cricket that is in a class of its own. The structure of it is based on the better team emerging virtual winners. It means bowling out a team in both innings, getting twenty wickets for fewer runs than one’s team can accumulate. It involves strategies and tactics to dismiss the batsmen at the wicket, with eleven players on the field, plus the captain and his bowlers to assist in the planning and plotting to this end.
There is nothing to stop a bowler from legally using his wide range of strategic devices to trick batsmen into false and indiscreet moves, without any limit to the number of overs he’s allowed to bowl, moreover in consideration of the unrestricted positions in the field that can be used. Thus, the bowler and/or his captain have to be aware of the weaknesses of batsmen, hence, the field that they set in order to restrict his scoring or to get him out.
Furthermore, the pitch that is used and its preparation is of the essence to evaluate the prowess of the batsmen in being able to negotiate the bowler’s wiles and to determine the strength of the bowling team.
This is the psychology of the game. A proper evaluation of methods to use and ensure the opposing team makes fewer runs than one’s team. It requires thinking before the game, a matter of the balanced side one ought to select, plus a knowledgeable captain to build his bowlers’ confidence with encouragement and understanding, in addition to his batsmen’s approach, so that they could have the mindset in what the plan is, knowing that although the objective is to win, the opportunities to achieve the feat must be explored.
The true test of a cricketer is in playing Test cricket. Participating in just limited overs does not test the cricketer, because it’s more of a hit and run exercise, rather than using cricket intelligence, which of course, is the more challenging aspect of the game. The majority of cricketers I have met would prefer to play or have played Test cricket. Also, to be prepared for Tests one ought to take part in four or three-day first-class cricket.
The main reason for this is knowing that, for instance, if a bowler is bowling well, the batsman has to conquer him by ensuring he does not get out while seeking opportunities to score.
Meanwhile, the bowler who is spot-on, in a way that a batsman can’t get the better of him, can continue to test the batsman. In a limited-overs game, he has to be taken off after four or ten overs, depending on the limit, much to the relief of the batsmen at the crease. Therefore, the batsman has a chance to swing away at another over from a different bowler and he does not have to struggle against this one anymore.
Thus, the true test of the batsman is the skill to play against a bowler who is testing his ability in trying to remove him. There are many powerful examples of these epic battles. For instance, the fight for supremacy between Brian Lara and Shane Warne; of what joy it was to witness that. Imagine if Warne was only allowed to bowl ten overs or even worse, four! And there are many such that only Test matches could provide. Viv Richards and Dennis Lillee; Garfield Sobers and Richie Benaud. And many, many more for the aficionado who enjoys the art of cricket.
When WI were rampaging throughout the world whipping teams like Australia and England, those nations never gave up.
They recovered and fought back to winning ways.
WI must not surrender to bad performances.
In sport, one of the first lessons learnt is that to win, someone has to lose. The loser’s reaction says a lot about their temperament to recover. It starts with the administration.
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