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Questions to answer


COLIN CROFT

Questions to answer

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SEARCHING?QUESTIONS should be asked of both West Indies teams – men and women – about demitting the competition at the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 Championship in Bangladesh at the semi-final stage.
I feel especially sorry for the West Indies women’s team. Captain Merissa Aguilleira and her players fought down to the wire, deserving better than losing in the semi-finals to Australia as they played generally good cricket. 
Somehow, they cannot seem to get over their great nemesis – Australia Women – try as they might. But it also goes to show that no team should take any other team for granted. 
Had West Indies Women beaten lightly-regarded India Women in their final Group B game and topped that group, then they would not have had to play Australia Women in that semi-final. They would have played South Africa Women instead, whom they were much more likely to beat.
They had the opportunity to top the group by beating lowly-rated India but West Indies Women quite embarrassingly lost by a mammoth nine wickets.
Why, having already qualified for semi-finals, would they have let up on the intensity is a question that both the head coach, former West Indies opener Sherwin Campbell, and captain Aguilleira should have to answer. 
In competitions such as these, winning should be the only objective, regardless. That lethargy backfired big time, as India Women won convincingly.
In sports, beating an opponent who had beaten you often in the past does not only take Herculean physical efforts, but also tremendous psychological superior thought processes, sometimes even playing and thinking way outside the standard box.
Aguilleira and her team must be devastated, losing to Australia by a meagre eight runs. They had a massively good chance of, for the very first time, bringing home the ICC World T20 women’s trophy. The year 2016 cannot come soon enough for them.
Conversely, the West Indies men’s semi-final against Sri Lanka was a faint shadow of their final and subsequent victory of 2012.
If anything, Sri Lanka looked and acted the more confident of the two teams.
Questions have to be asked, too, of West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson and captain Darren Sammy about the make-up of that semi-final bowling effort. 
Twenty overs give no leeway for second guesses, so whenever situations demand, changes must be instituted immediately, if not sooner.
West Indies men depended much on the spinning exploits of Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, and to a just lesser extent on left-arm pacer Krishmar Samtokie, but there were always still eight overs to cover.
So by what yardstick, exactly, did Andre Russell, who had already bowled two very expensive overs costing 22 runs, before his third, which was similarly costly, 15 runs, qualify to bowl this third over – Sri Lanka’s last? 
That decision made no sense at all.
At 160-6, Sri Lanka probably made 20 runs too many. It was as if Sammy was actually scared to bowl himself. 
If you doubt me, read on, please.
Dwayne Bravo could not bowl, due to an injury, but after Santokie had had his worst day in the tournament, a very expensive 4-0-46-2, how could Sammy then justify using the similarly costly Russell instead of himself? 
For the record, Sammy had 1-0-9-0 versus India, as West Indies bowled 19.4 overs in a losing effort. He made 11. 
He then bowled 1-0-6-0 when Bangladesh made 98, to lose by 73 runs. Sammy made 14 not out. When Australia made 178, Sammy bowled 1-0-16-0, but made up with a match-winning 34 not out from 13 deliveries. 
That was bettered against Pakistan with a bombastic 42 from 20 deliveries, but he did not have to bowl as Pakistan were bundled out for 82.
In the semi-final versus Sri Lanka, again Sammy did not bowl, but Chris Gayle and Russell gave away 47 needless runs from four overs.
So overall, in five games, Sammy, supposedly a bowling all-rounder in this team, delivered in total – three overs for 31 runs – preferring to allow Russell, always possible to be slogged, to bowl many more overs than he should have.
You can make your own conclusions, as, in life and in cricket, anything can be justified.
Colin Croft is a former West Indies fast bowler.

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