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West Indies cricket – half full or half empty?

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Tue, Mar 27. 2012

The exciting One Day International series between the West Indies and Australia has concluded, leaving Caribbean fans with mixed feelings. The home team came so close to an unexpected triumph that discussions and debates continue over what “might have been”. It has been the classic example of being “so near, yet so far.”{{more}}

The reactions vary throughout the islands. Many are proud of the accomplishments of the young and still inexperienced West Indian team. Others, bearing in mind the disappointments of the past decade and a half, are more sceptical, almost afraid of raising false hopes. Unfortunately, there are some among us who simply refuse to see advances and are critical of the West Indies and the leadership of captain Darren Sammy in particular.

The latter responses are quite instructive and typical of the kinds of judgement and assessments we make. We continue to experience difficulties is assessing progress and end up being quite confused. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

In terms of specifics, one must be able to put the performance of the West Indies in this series in its proper context. Australia entered as the top-ranked team in One Day International cricket; the West Indies by contrast, was in eighth place. After the five matches, the Australians still lead the pack, but the bruising from the Caribbean cricketers has shaved four points from their rankings total. On the other hand, while in terms of position, the West Indies still occupies eighth place, their rankings total has increased by seven points.

On an individual level, no West Indies batsman ranks in the top 25 in the world; our highest-ranked ODI bowler is at 17th and, among all-rounders, Darren Sammy is the best-placed West Indian, in 16th position. These rankings are after the series, not before.

We have not beaten Australia in a series for 17 years, even though in that period, such ‘superstars’ of West Indies cricket as Walsh, Ambrose, Lara, Hooper, Chanderpaul, Gayle and Sarwan have worn our colours. None of the current crop has yet achieved that status.

So for this young team to come out even with the mighty Australians, to the extent that many feel that the West Indies should have won, speaks volumes of the “young Turks”, in spite of what disappointments we might feel about the eventual outcome. If one wishes to get a good grasp of the accomplishments, one needs to go no further than to take the words of Australian captain Shane Watson. This is what he said:

“There’s disappointment…to the series…. We’ve had them in trouble throughout the whole series and they just seem to find a way to fight back…”

It is a pity that in our impatience for immediate success, we lose sight of the larger picture, not just in cricket, or sport, but in life as well. Incremental progress is not appreciated; we want now-for-now success. It affects us in our assessment of matters of state and the economy, clouds our better judgement.

We can learn a lot from our cricketing experiences which we can apply in everyday life. In the meantime, let us give captain Sammy and his team all the kudos they so richly deserve and provide continued support for the remaining jousts with the Australians.

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