Selectors have named a strong 13-man West Indies A to face Sri Lanka A in the first two four-day “Tests” of the three-match series set to bowl off in Jamaica next month.
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Ireland win impressed a lot
West Indies captain Darren Sammy deserves guarded credit. He did suggest that “West Indies will come back hard at Ireland” after disappointingly losing that 1st T-20-International in Jamaica last Wednesday. Since WI stuttered to 96-9 in T-20-I No. 2, Sammy must have been talking about only his bowlers! But, firstly, from record books, the WI team that lost that 1st, historical, infamous game, July 1969, in a one-innings affair, one of the most significant victories by Ireland over international teams, was as follows: Stephen Camacho (Guyana), Michael “Joey” Carew (Trinidad & Tobago), Maurice Foster (Jamaica), Basil Butcher (Guyana), Clive Lloyd (Guyana), Clyde Walcott (Barbados), John Shepherd (Barbados), Michael Findlay (St Vincent & Windward Islands), Grayson Shillingford (Dominica & Windward Islands), Pascal Roberts (Trinidad & Tobago) and Philbert Blair (Guyana). Last week, when Ireland again beat reigning world T-20 champions West Indies in a full, official international T-20 for the first time ever, by a jaw-dropping, unfathomable six wickets, many noticed! Whenever anyone thinks that West Indies must have bottomed out and cannot do any worse, they hit a new low. Is this now the bottom? Who Knows? How does one explain this latest aberration? Ireland’s latest success v WI, T-20-I No 1, could not have been foreseen. West Indies did strike back, winning, but not altogether convincingly, T-20-I No 2, by just only 11 runs! What a massive struggle!
In 1969, Butcher was WI captain when West Indies contrived a paltry 25 all out. No-one made double figures, Grayson Shillingford top scoring with nine! Few really cared! Douglas Goodwin, supposedly bowling energised military medium, had mythical bowling figures; 12.3 – 8 – 6 – 5, returns that anyone would have been extremely pleased to have achieved. Not to be outdone, Alec O’Riordan, another “medium dobbler”, had 13 – 8 – 18 – 4, excellent figures by any standards. Bowlers world-wide now would love to have those figures in their records! Batting after WI had made 25, Ireland declared at 125-8 to further embarrass West Indies, who then made 78-4, 2nd dig at the crease. Mr. O’Riordan is now in his 74th year, Mr Goodwin in his 76th.
I can picture these always spirited, spritely old Irish guys, eyes twinkling with mirth, sipping appetising green beer or very brisk Irish coffee, laughing loudly as they enjoyed their 2014 representatives’ grand efforts, beating West Indies, again!
But what of WI 1st T-20-I v Ireland in 2014, and exactly what excuse will West Indies use this time? Dwayne Smith (Barbados), Chris Gayle (Jamaica), Marlon Samuels (Jamaica), Lendl Simmons (Trinidad & Tobago), Dwayne Bravo (Trinidad & Tobago), Andre Russell (Jamaica), Darren Sammy (St Lucia & Windward Islands), Denesh Ramdin (Trinidad & Tobago), Sunil Narine (Trinidad & Tobago), Samuel Badree (Trinidad & Tobago) and Ravi Rampaul (Trinidad & Tobago), along with coach Ottis Gibson (Barbados), should all simply hold their heads down in rank embarrassment and have severe introspection. Does anyone really care about this? I really cannot answer that at all, for I do not know! Even if West Indies were supposedly overall under prepared; only few really were— Gayle, Samuels, Badree and Sammy—or even if they were drunk on green ale combined with Irish coffee, West Indies, with this might of batting and vast experiences world-wide, should have beaten Ireland hands down in both games.
In T-20-I No 1, WI mustered a meagre 116-8, no-one in that mighty batting line-up getting more than Gayle’s top score of 18. In T-20-I No 2, when West Indies made a diabolically labored 96-9, Andre Fletcher top scored with 19! When Ireland batted, T-20-I, they recovered from two wickets for eight runs, to win by a mammoth six wickets. Luckily for WI, T-20-I No 2, their bowling and fielding saved further humiliation! In three weeks, in Bangladesh, WI will be defending that championship. All teams have been selected, including West Indies, so there should be no stresses about whom will be selected anymore. What is more important is to ask as to how will WI get themselves really ready for that fray? Meantime, at least two important people involved in Irish cricket would be over the moon with that first ever international win over West Indies; Ireland’s coach Phil Simmons, strapping former West Indies batting all-rounder and uncle of Lendl, and Ireland’s manager, Roy Torrens. Roy, the proverbially jovial Irishman if ever there was one, has been, even before ICC World Cup 2007 when Ireland impressed all with their full attention to progress, an energetic advocate of his team’s ascendancy to higher grades of international cricket, and without any boastfulness, would be very pleased at this latest development; onwards and upwards. Phil has been brilliant at bringing the “Boys in Green” to understanding their limitations, individual abilities and always playing to their strengths, as all good coaches normally do.
As he suggested; “This win over West Indies is a great boost to our team’s confidence for upcoming ICC T-20 World Cup 2014, but we must not be complacent!”
A drawn T-20-I series, 1-1, against Ireland, tells how close this type of cricket is, or maybe, just how low West Indies has fallen. Enjoy!