Wooden-spoon series lacks Lara's lustre

It was not so long ago that a Test match between the West Indies and Zimbabwe would have been cricket's equivalent to Brazil against Greenland in football.

It was not so long ago that a Test match between the West Indies and Zimbabwe would have been cricket's equivalent to Brazil against Greenland in football.

Times have changed so rapidly and dramatically that the inaugural series between the two, starting at the Queen's Park Oval here today, involves two weak, evenly matched teams fighting over the bottom place among the game's nine Test countries.

It is a lot to which Zimbabwe are accustomed. The most recent addition to international cricket's limited hierarchy, they have to choose from a small pool of first-class players, mainly among a diminishing white population, and have managed only three victories in 39 Tests in eight years.

To now be seriously challenged by such opponents is an affront to the West Indies, home to a galaxy of past stars and the invincible powerhouses who dominated world cricket throughout the 1980s with their brilliant batting and ruthless fast bowling. But it is an accurate reflection of their recent demise in which they have lost their last 10 Tests overseas, to Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand, and been racked by a lack of quality players, internal divisions and controversy.

Brian Lara, their only player of star quality, holder of the record scores for both Test and first-class cricket, has been at the core of much of their strife and is so again in the lead-up to this series. Three week ago, he quit the captaincy after two years of what he called "moderate success and disastrous failure" and then suddenly withdrew altogether to take "a short break". A Trinidad newspaper has reported that he will enter a clinic in the United States next week to undergo stress therapy in the hope of sorting himself out in time for the summer tour of England, if not for the earlier home series against Pakistan.

His absence seriously weakens the West Indies, whose main deficiency is batting. It also robs the series of what little gloss it had, leaving only run-of-the-mill players on both sides.

Individual attention will focus on Courtney Walsh, 37, the universally admired West Indies fast bowler, who needs only nine more wickets to surpass the Indian Kapil Dev's 434 as the most in Test cricket history. But, with Lara missing on his home ground and no Trinidadian in the team, it is hardly enough to stimulate interest here.

WEST INDIES (from): J C Adams (capt), S L Campbell, A F G Griffith, C H Gayle, S Chanderpaul, W W Hinds, R L Powell, R D Jacobs, N O Perry, F A Rose, C E L Ambrose, C A Walsh, R D King.

ZIMBABWE (probable): A Flower (capt), G W Flower, T R Gripper, M W Goodwin, N C Johnson, A D R Campbell, S V Carlisle, H H Streak, B C Strang, B A Murphy, H K Olonga.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most