Cricket: Out of touch with the modern game

Tony Cozier in Sharjah says the West Indies must rethink their strategy
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The Independent Online
The euphoria for the West Indies lasted less than 24 hours.

The smiles that broke across the faces of the men in the deep maroon outfits on Friday night when they completed victory over Pakistan, their tormentors on the Test field for the past month, were prompted by relief as much as joy.

They had, after all, been thoroughly thrashed in their six previous matches on tour - three one-day internationals and then the humiliating Tests - and they know there are a hostile public and incensed selectors awaiting them back home.

The frowns soon returned to their furrowed brows as Dougie Brown, a whole- hearted cricketer who epitomises the spirit of England's new, custom-built team, dispatched the careless Philo Wallace with his first ball and the dangerous Brian Lara with his third. After that England applied themselves with the kind of all-round discipline and commitment that is so essential in the hurly-burly scramble of the shortened contest.

Brown, Mark Ealham, Adam Hollioake and Matthew Fleming may look straightforward medium-pace trundlers who would be little more than partnership breakers and defensive fill-ins in Test cricket, but in the one-day version, their persistent, direct line and nagging length and their deceptive use of the slower ball doubles their value.

Brown's immediate breakthrough allowed them to dictate terms to opponents fearful of prematurely exposing their lengthy tail and they never gave an inch, their alert, strong-armed fielders athletically supporting them.

It took an unbeaten century of skill and common sense by Carl Hooper to see the West Indies reach close to 200. But he is an experienced campaigner, well versed in the intricacies of such situations, not least by his many seasons with Kent.

England, and now Australia, have finally bitten the bullet and picked distinctly different teams for the two distinct forms of the game. By contrast, the West Indies seemingly have not yet recognised the increasingly important role of one-day cricket.

Whereas England have sent a special team with a special purpose under a new captain, taking the trouble to prepare them carefully first in their camp in Lahore, the West Indies board refused their selectors request to make relevant adjustments to their personnel after the Tests. So they have had to make do with players who are technically and temperamentally suited only to the traditional game.

The World Cup is now just over two years away and the West Indies, champions of the first two in 1975 and 1979, may well find themselves antiquated also-rans if they stick to their present intransigence.

Their modest total did at least give their younger bowlers an opportunity to strut their stuff. They are without Curtly Ambrose with a dodgy back, so Franklyn Rose and Merv Dillon, both with fewer than 10 one-day internationals to their name, supported the durable Courtney Walsh. At least they both showed they are learning fast.