No need for the trauma
Bangladesh beat a full-strength West Indies side in an One-Day International (ODI) series for the first time and it seems to be a bitter pill to swallow for some cricket enthusiasts.
It may simply be a coincidence that this comes just months after Bangladesh beat strong Sri Lankan and Indian sides on the way to reaching the finals of the Asia Cup where they narrowly lost to Pakistan by two runs. In the preliminary round they had lost to Pakistan by just 21 runs.
Another “coincidence” is that these matches were all played in Bangladesh.
The disappointment felt by fans of West Indies cricket is usually expressed through emotional calls for the removal of everyone from the kit attendants to the coach, captain and manager.
No doubt the electronic, print, and social media will continue to be bombarded by the critics for some time to come. Such a response is usually no more useful than hitting a four off the last ball of a match with six runs required to win.
I believe the events that unfolded during the ODI series require calm analysis and mature responses, assuming that a significant response is even required.
The success of the West Indies in the World T20 in Sri Lanka recently may have sparked unrealistic expectations. This is not surprising because there are emotional, even outrageous comments made after amazing victories as well, so there were clichés such as “we have turned the corner”.
The reality is we no longer have a West Indies team like the ones led by Clive Lloyd and Sir Vivian Richards during the glory days.
Bear in mind the players emerging from that era were part of the team which lost a World Cup match to Kenya.
Remember, too, that four years after the record-breaking feats by Sir Everton Weekes against India in India the Indians won their first Test match following 20 years and 25 matches on the international stage.
In other words, weak teams do not remain weak forever and will develop a winning pattern over time, as Sri Lanka have shown more recently. There is therefore no need to be traumatized by the outcome of the ODI series.
Bangladesh played better on the bowler-friendly pitches they prepared. They played smarter and achieved the result they wanted. The extent to which it will help their overall development will be determined when they play away from home.
While it is important to glean any technical insight into the reasons for the outcome it would also be wise to recognize that Bangladesh cricket does not represent a punching bag waiting to be assaulted by cricket teams around the world. Like everyone else they are constantly seeking to improve their cricket.
If we as West Indians, whether as fans, analysts, players, administrators or coaches, shake off the arrogance that fools us into believing we are still a powerful force in world cricket, we will better be able to deal with the realities that face us.
West Indies cricket has sunk to the lowest depths imaginable over the past decade both on and off the field. Much of that has been forgotten because of the renewed attitude by this current team, ably led by Darren Sammy and coached by Ottis Gibson.
The threat to return to such a stage still lingers, though it is currently being checked by strong if not popular management. Hard decisions had to be taken and we have started to see the benefits.
I am confident West Indies cricket will continue to improve but there is no magic corner to turn. It is a process and during that process there will be disappointments like those experienced in Bangladesh.
There will also be triumphs like the T20 World Cup.
Gradually, the positives will outweigh the negatives but we are not there yet and there is no need to panic. Let us enjoy every success and learn from every failure.
What we as fans can learn from Bangladesh is the ability to support the team whatever the outcome. Maybe it is the loyal infectious support that has played a part in inspiring their players.
How many of those who ridicule our cricketers and/or the WICB will spend even $20 to watch one day of regional cricket this coming season?
Many will say the standard is poor but the Bangladeshis come out in large numbers to support the home side regardless of the result of previous matches. They love cricket and they love their team.
Maybe we need to humble ourselves, accept our cricket for what it is at this stage and play our part in charting a path of success.