If emotion, and the ability to provide joy, were the only factors that mattered, almost everyone in the world would have the West Indies as their second team at the World Cup. Their glory days are long gone; their lean times are over two generations long but you so want them to do well.
Maybe it is because they play with a smile, maybe because their present is so fragile and their past so wondrous. Over twenty overs, where consistency, resilience and discipline are relatively lesser factors and where flair, courage and explosiveness matter, they are the team to fear. Add a few more overs and it seems that with every over their challenge gets diluted. My chemistry teacher would have said they are like acetic acid; acid in name but only just.
I did a little exercise to see who would lead their challenge and I struggled beyond the enigmatic and sadly unpredictable Marlon Samuels, himself a player of enormous ability but with a whimsical streak about him. Who else? Chris Gayle, a mere flicker these days over 50 overs where he can be a lighthouse in a 20 over game. There is a shudder when he walks out there, he generates no more than a quiver in the longer form. If the West Indies have to be a force, they have to be defined by the joyous brutality of his batting.
The West Indies could have been a force if Gayle and Samuels had laid the platform for Bravo, Pollard, Sammy and Russell to light up the game. But two of those are gone, the explanations given were a very poor camouflage for the real reason, and the other two have too much to do, something that seems beyond them.
The bowling with Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and an emerging Sheldon Cottrell is quite capable without being scary but it doesn’t help that the new captain, the rather raw Jason Holder, hasn’t yet become the bowler some of us thought he would. And therein lies another issue. The captain doesn’t command a place, in turbulent winds he isn’t the shelter, and if fingers do get pointed at him, as they inevitably will in sport, he has nowhere to look. He will in course of time become the seam bowling all-rounder but only if the tides in West Indies cricket take him there.
Currently you look at the West Indies and you notice who isn’t there. That is always a worry. I will be delighted, but surprised, if the West Indies create a major impact on this World Cup. Against teams that don’t bowl well, they might chase down a target but you wouldn’t be certain of it.Maybe then, they just need to laugh their worries off, maybe Darren Sammy can lead that, and play it like one big 20 over game.