When Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were axed from the 2015 World Cup squad, there were worries that West Indies might not even progress to the quarter-final stage of the World Cup. That they did with what looked on paper like a second-string team was an achievement in itself. But, looking at the overall picture, it is a clear demonstration of the turmoil West Indies cricket is on and off the field. They showed glimpses of brilliance in a couple of games, but it all completely fell apart in the quarter-final against New Zealand, in which the latter were totally dominant.
West Indies began their World Cup on an extremely demotivating note as they went down to Ireland in spite of putting up 300 plus on the board. It was an early indication of how poor their bowling was in the tournament. They recovered unbelievably to dismantle Pakistan in the next game, having them in all sorts of strife at 1 for 4. The match against Zimbabwe saw Chris Gayle break World Cup records smashing a double hundred, with great support from Marlon Samuels. However, they got a dose of their own medicine against the South Africans. The loss to India put them in further trouble, and they only managed to progress thanks to an unconvincing win over UAE.
The big problem for West Indies, in the absence of the Bravo brothers (Darren was ruled out early in the tournament) and Pollard was that they were heavily reliant on Gayle at the top of the order. The swashbuckling left-hander, who woes were compounded by his chronic back injury, was out of sorts except for the Zimbabwe game. And although he played a smashing innings in the quarter-final against the Kiwis, the match was well out of West Indies’ grasp even before he had gone out to bat. This overdependence on Gayle is something West Indies can ill-afford.
It is not that West Indies do not have talented batsmen, but they just haven’t clicked. Dwayne Smith may have succeeded in the IPL, but his performance in this World Cup was as embarrassing as his career average, 18. The lack of runs from Smith made matters tougher for Gayle. Even Marlon Samuels was disappointing, but for that one hundred against Zimbabwe. Lendl Simmons began the series with a hundred, but wasn’t around when the tournament ended. Denesh Ramdin’s batting was forgettable like most others, and West Indies’ overall batting stood out like a sore thumb.
The story was similar in the bowling as well. Jerome Taylor kept the flag flying high for West Indies single-handedly. It was only because of him that West Indies were competitive with the ball. Skipper Jason Holder was easily dealt with, and he has a lot of work to although it must be said that his resolute batting down the order was impressive, better than some of the well-known names. The all-rounders in Darren Sammy and Andre Russell had a mixed time of it, with the latter’s bowling being taken to the cleaners in the quarters. Windies dished out pretty much what was expected of them.
--By A Cricket Analyst