It took only a short while for Chris Gayle’s highest individual score in an ICC Cricket World Cup to be beaten. And now we have two double hundreds in the same tournament. It goes to show the level that batting in modern-day cricket is heading towards. Batsmen are scaling new heights and it is great for the game and for crowd-attendances in the future. They are breaking all sorts of records and enjoying their time in the middle.
At the same time, the execution from bowlers has been poor. With the new rules coming in, I think I have only seen batsmen improvising and there are very few bowlers around today who have upped their game accordingly.
And West Indies’ bowlers lacked that bit against Guptill as well. They got Brendon McCullum early and then dismissed Kane Williamson cheaply as well. Perhaps they thought they had the upper hand in the game after taking those two very important wickets, and completely forgot about Guptill. It showed in their poor execution of plans against him and he took full advantage of that.
The bowling in the death overs was especially poor. There were too many full tosses bowled as they were not getting their yorkers right. They simply have to do better at this level, as modern day professional cricketers who know their worth. Just the vein in which they bowled throughout the fifty overs on Saturday was inexcusable. They have improved as a unit through the tournament but it was not on show in this quarter-final.
The intensity was low in the field as well. Marlon Samuels was the guilty fielder for dropping Guptill. Nine times out of ten he would have taken that catch, but he failed on this day. It is said that catches win matches and this case proves it. New Zealand scored 390-odd on the day and Guptill alone got 237 of those runs. Before the match I had said that a collective, all-round effort was needed from the West Indies if they were to beat the Black Caps, and they were found wanting.
Look at Daniel Vettori’s effort. He is someone with a history of back injuries, and at his age, he could make that effort to dismiss Samuels. Perhaps there is a lesson in it for the batsman, and everyone else, on the importance of catches. Jason Holder led the way for West Indies with a great catch to send McCullum back, but like I said earlier, after getting that main wicket, they just lost focus.
Vettori’s catch was also very important in the sense that Samuels was beginning to look good and make amends for his error in the field. After the early dismissal of Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons, his partnership with Chris Gayle partnership held the key for West Indies. But it was not to be. It is not to say that the tall target could not have been chased for the rules of ODI cricket have been re-written.
In a tall chase such as this, there is a method that needs to be followed. They went too hard too early in their innings. Gayle did what he can do, struggling with his back injury. It was a serious handicap that he was not able to rotate the strike and it hampers the innings when you can only hit big and not run the hard runs. It is not only about hitting fours and sixes, but also about converting ones into twos and twos into threes. Rotation of strike was lost because of Gayle’s injury, and after both his and Samuels’ dismissal, the match was a lost cause.
To sum up West Indies’ tournament then, no one gave them an outside chance of reaching the knock-out stage, more so after their loss to Ireland in the opening game. But they made use of this opportunity to prove everyone wrong and played collectively to come this far. It should act as a boost for them in future and they need to understand that a loss can be used for positives too. They should learn to build a team for the next ICC Cricket World Cup in four years’ time, and their aim should be to go a long way into the knock-outs then.
I believe Jason Holder has proved to be a good leader, and I see no reason for West Indies to opt for another captain. At some stages, his inexperience showed but he will gradually learn with time. Also, at other times, some senior players did not give him their full support. This is something I would like to see as he leads the team going forward. Everyone involved should support him and help build a better team.
Support not only the captain but the new coach, Phil Simmons, as well. I hope he gets the backing of players, selectors and the West Indies Cricket Board, and nobody interferes with the things that need to be done. He should be given all the right tools that help him make the right decisions for the good of West Indies’ cricket.