An Open Letter To Shai Hope And The West Indies Team Management

image-ljde1bweNetherlands upset West Indies Indies in World Cup Qualifier 2023 (Twitter)

A few hours back, revered British cricket writer George Dobell tweeted and perhaps couldn’t control his emotion when he exclaimed, "We aren’t there yet, but a World Cup without West Indies would be a diminished World Cup!"

The tweet quickly spiralled into a wider discussion that, for a change, eschewed the reactionary fanboy and from what one noted, only genuine fans; those that worry about the current state of affairs, came up and expressed their concern about a team that should be playing better. 

But, I ask this to you today, if your team genuinely shares Mr. Dobell’s sentiment?  

To take absolutely nothing away from your outstanding commitment amply evidently from the selflessness of dropping yourself down at #4 and scoring a match-winning fifty and hundred from that position, is the rest of the team really willing to play as if their lives depended on each game? 

For quite frankly, as far as the possible World Cup participation stands, the West Indies' life actually depends on not just every game; but each upcoming delivery in it; the afterthought to having bowled one, as well as the mental plan on what to come up with next. 

But do the bowlers actually think about what they’re going to do next or are they just content in rushing up and getting done with it for what was evident against the Dutch was the latter. 

Wasn’t the urgent team meeting that took place upon the completion of the 47th over, as one noted, a bit too late? 

Can’t help but present more questions to you that to me, appear a literal unsolvable Rubik’s cube. 

Is the passion to play as one and do something extraordinary with every afforded opportunity really buzzing in the camp and is it something that the eleven chosen men bring with themselves to the field?

That said, when you lost to Zimbabwe, the West Indies fan in the Caribbean and even outside of it did think that the team would treat the outcome with a sense of anger, thereby converting that blow into a performance of a very high level in the game to follow.  

Batters, there are many

That your good self Mr. Hope, Charles and King up top and the irreplaceable Pooran didn’t take too kindly to the Dutch bowlers was quite evident. It was quite the start to what should’ve ideally been just enough to curtail the Dutch and even enhance the NRR. 

No one, absolutely no one - whether an expert as respected as Ian Bishop or some established soothsayer who doesn’t get any cricket hunch wrong - would’ve said that the Dutch would comfortably chase down 375.

But just how badly did it hurt you when your team made an absolute mess of things, giving an already pressured Alzarri just 9 to defend from the final 6 on a dead surface for the bowlers? 

Moreover, whose call was it- the intrepid Caribbean fan deserves to know- to throw the ball to Roston Chase for the penultimate over? 

Yes, Roston has been picking wickets but how often and to what match winning success has he bowled the 49th during a Chase in the past?

Maybe it doesn’t appear as clearly to you, but the outside world keeps rotating around the same old axis, perhaps unarguably true that - all that’s wrong with the West Indies is the Board, the decision making, the lack of resources and the proper implementation of plans. 

But maybe the problem runs deeper!

Maybe, there’s an inner rot in that there’s a strange absence of self belief in this lot that perhaps is more cancerous than the other damaging cells around the body and structure of West Indies cricket. 

Greatness, it is often stated, comes to those who persevere; those who put everything on stake and quite literally leave little to imagination in their search for success. 

Life to them isn’t about "Oh, I gave it everything. Rather, it’s about “What more could I give, what more could I have done differently?"

The desperation so desperately needed!

By that logic, apart from a handful of players, yourself included, just how many are as desperate to succeed and go over the ropes in your team? 

In the yesteryears, an Ambrose and Walsh, often without much support would make life for the batters a living hell, going as far as making the batters crawl when going after a 150 target in Tests.

Where are bowlers that match up to quarter of that painstaking, arduous effort today?  

In the past, Chanderpaul, quite frankly, an apostle of unshakable focus and resolve would wane down even an India and Australia and the same lad would change gears and hit a six off the final over to win a one dayer, besides hitting a 69-ball-Test ton. 

Who’s willing to even attempt that role? 

Is Chase close to being there? Is Brooks even doing justice to his incredible potential? 

The world bows down to Lara, even sixteen years since his retirement, for taming attacks and butchering some all by his own. 

At all these times, forget not, the fabric of West Indies cricket didn’t lose its original shape; the team was weak and would plummet from a defeat to another. Yet, they pulled through. They fought on. 

Is that intent still there? 

Is a sense or urgency, moreover the factor of playing for lost West Indian pride still alive somewhere. 

To be fair, it is quite understood that players cannot always play to their best potential whilst being aware that at all times they carry the onerous responsibility of representing an infallible and distinguished legacy. 

But look at the current Australia Women’s team; are they not playing and creating a legacy for the teams that would play, say a decade later and be proud of what their successors achieve? 

In stark contrast, look at the very side that had you vanquished: the Dutch. 

Is the current generation powered by a Logan Van Beek, Scott Edwards, Aryan Dutt, who aren’t even exactly Dutch not playing as absorbingly as one possibly could in order to etch their own legacy? 

When those who have had very little to do with cricket succeed and perhaps out of pure desire to contribute, then why can’t a side that is a part of a great bastion of excellence called West Indies cricket? 

Every generation, dear Mr Hope and the team management, passes on the baton to the forthcoming one with the belief that they will preserve the pride and keep the fire alive. 

But what is one to do upon evidencing a group of visibly exhausted, battered, frequently catch dropping lot that play cricket as if they already believe that they can’t possibly make it? 

Aren’t the others who seemingly want the qualification more desperately, worth it than the West Indies? 

It’s not that the fans don’t want to, but the big question is- what is too be gained today by rallying around the West Indies?

What’s the driving factor? To play for the rich history and the past legends who, truth be told, may be better off doing something better in their time than seeing the current lot succumb to a brand of unexplainable mediocrity. 

Or to simply dumb ourselves to death and just watch the recent T20 exploits, the moments of World Cup winning hurrahs that now belong to the past?