By Neto Baptiste
West Indies chances of retaining their ICC World T20 title had always been in doubt, but mistakes made months prior to the tournament in t Abu Dhabi sealed their fate even before the start of the region’s premier T20 tournament, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
This is the view of iconic former fast bowler, Sir Andy Roberts, who opined the selectors erred when they opted for mostly experience over youth during what he considered crucial series leading into the final selection of the regional squad.
“We blundered before the CPL started when we chose the squad to play Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia; that’s where we blundered. Instead of going with the majority of the senior players we should give youngsters an opportunity to showcase what they could do at the international level, but we didn’t do that. We stuck with the so called great T20 players because I don’t know what makes a person a T20 player and what makes people ODI players. If you’re a good enough cricketer then you should be able to adapt to any format of the game,” he said.
Selectors opted for a more experienced lineup as they sought to defend the world title won in 2016. The 42-year-old Chris Gayle, 38-year-old Dwayne Bravo and 37-year-old Ravi Rampaul were all included.
Speaking bluntly, Sir Andy said the once hard-hitting and devastating Gayle should have walked away two years ago.
“Chris Gayle should have walked away at the end of the ODI World Cup in 2019, he should not have waited for anybody to tell him. We have to know where we are going because we came from an era of dominance and dominance by constantly filling the gaps with people who you think are adequate replacement for who is there, but at the moment we are not doing that,” the former player said.
The once fierce fast bowler who claimed 202 wickets in 47 Tests and another 87 in 56 ODI matches, however disagrees with some pundits that leadership was an issue for the senior men’s team.
“We’re going to always find reasons to blame leaders. When you have a good team and a winning team nobody gets the blame or they don’t blame anybody because we are winning, but once you find they are losing, they find reason to blame others for losing. A leader, to me, is only as good as the players he has around him in term of winning because you can have good captains who are poor leaders, but are just people based on the results they get,” he said.
Last Thursday, West Indies were knocked out of the T20 World Cup after a 20-run defeat by already-eliminated Sri Lanka.
Chasing 190 to win, West Indies finished on 169 for eight, with Shimron Hetmyer top-scoring with 81 not out and three bowlers taking two wickets apiece.
The Caribbean men then slipped to an eight-wicket defeat to Australia in their final Group match on Saturday.