Different faces, same story

Despite regularly replacing captain and coach, West Indies cricket still suffers fundamental problems

The most alarming aspect of West Indies' two-day capitulat-ion at Headingley was not the result itself but that it was no aberration. It was simply the latest in a sequence of similarly spectacular collapses, another example of the inconsistency that no international sporting team can abide.

The most alarming aspect of West Indies' two-day capitulat-ion at Headingley was not the result itself but that it was no aberration. It was simply the latest in a sequence of similarly spectacular collapses, another example of the inconsistency that no international sporting team can abide.

It is inexplicable and seemingly incurable.

The team steamrollered by Darren Gough, Andy Caddick and Dominic Cork for 54 at Lord's and 61 at Headingley were the same that amassed 397 at Edgbaston and 438 for 7 declared at Old Trafford.

The Brian Lara who so hopelessly misjudged line, angle and swing that he was lbw with bat raised high above his head in both innings was the same exceptional batsman who has Test cricket's highest score and a reputation to match, and who had stroked a hundred off the same bowlers only two weeks earlier.

The Jimmy Adams who twice identically dragged the ball back into his stumps was the same dogged competitor who defied England for six-and- a-half hours at Edgbaston and four-and-three-quarter hours at Old Trafford.

The rag-tag band that frequently fumbled in the field, threw wildly and dropped one of Test cricket's easiest catches on Friday morning were the same slick outfit that pressured England into their three-day, innings defeat at Edg- baston. It has happened time and again of late, yet no remedy has been found.

Since the 1996 World Cup, there have been three captains, three coaches and three managers.

No combination has been able to make a difference. Courtney Walsh took over from Richie Richardson after the World Cup but gave way to Brian Lara after the 3-0 drubbing in Pakistan in 1997. Lara quit last February after what he termed "the moderate success and devastating failure" in his two years at the helm. Now Jimmy Adams is finding life at the top just as tough.

The late Malcolm Marshall, Sir Viv Richards, for too brief a period, and now Roger Harper are the coaches who have tried to instil the consistency all have stressed is so essential.

With every change a false dawn has briefly lightened the gloom, each time in the welcoming environment of the Caribbean. Walsh's first three series at home brought victories over New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka, but reversals in Australia and Pakistan brought his downfall. Captain Lara triumphed 3-1 over England in the Caribbean first up, but drubbings in South Africa and New Zealand prompted his resignation.

Adams arrived in England in May with the promising kickstart of home success over Zimbabwe and Pakistan, in which Lara was absent and several of the newer players were prominent. The resounding result at Edgbaston, breaking a succession of 10 overseas Test defeats, suggested the revival would be permanent. It has proved a deception.

England have been through a similar, even longer, trough and appreciate how difficult it is to escape from it. It calls for patience, hard work and meaningful planning, not traits that figured prominently as West Indies ignored the truth that the long, heady days under the captaincy of Lloyd and Rich-ards would inevitably end.

Desperate measures are now being put in place and, under pressure from a passionate public, governments have suddenly begun to take more than a passing interest. This has led to the emergence of young batsmen like Wavell Hinds and Ramnaresh Sarwan and the success of the under-15 team in winning a recent international tournament. But more trying times lieimmediately ahead.

Adams and his men have 12 days to pull themselves together after the shock of Headingley for the final, decisive Test at The Oval.

They have not been beaten in a series by England since 1969, when Garry Sobers and Ray Illingworth were tossing with coins known as shillings and pence, and certainly have the cricketing potential to ensure that they do not lose this time. It is whether they can muster the mental strength required that will determine whether they can keep the Wisden Trophy that has been in their secure grasp since 1973.

And mental strength will be the prime requirement for their next assignment. It is in Australia in the winter, when they will face the world's best without Curtly Ambrose and, possibly, Courtney Walsh.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices