Following the exit of defending champions West Indies from the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh by way of a 27-run defeat on the Duckworth-Lewis method against Sri Lanka in the first semi-final on Thursday, many critics have come down hard on key players.
As the rain suddenly doused the field at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, with hail stones painting an ugly picture, it was no secret that the slow batting of West Indies would have found them wanting. Chasing 161 to win, they were struggling on 80 for four off 13.5 overs when the match ended.
Chris Gayle made three off 13 balls and his fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels was unbeaten on 18 off 29 deliveries. Neither never really got going and when they both reflect on their production in the tournament, admittedly they could have stepped up.
Just look at their stats. Gayle made the most runs (143) for West Indies at an average of 28.60 but he also faced the most balls (133) for a strike rate of 107.51, while Samuels, with 86 runs from 106 balls, had a strike rate of 81.13.
Gayle has a very big reputation for his power-hitting and strike rate in this version of the game but it appeared as though he was not fully fit.
It is always easy to criticise when things don’t go right. West Indies captain Darren Sammy was gracious in defeat and found a way of balancing the inevitable questions in relation to the high number of dots balls faced by Gayle and Samuels.
“When you lose a cricket game, people tend to point out all different areas where that should have happened, this should have happened,” Sammy said. “But I am sure if you look at all the games we have played, there are more than 27 dots (25, between Gayle and Samuels).
“Probably 50-something dots. It’s not ideal for Twenty20 but we’ve developed a formula in which that works for us. We know we are a boundary-hitting team. We know we have got to improve in rotating the strike but if you look at the way Gayle plays, he normally gives himself some time to get used to the wicket and catch up in the end. But the thing is, in this tournament he has not carried.”
“Marlon has not been batting well for us. It is one area – we always tell him, whatever rate you walk into, you try to keep it at that or increase it. Yes, we could say Marlon has not had the best of tournaments but he is one of our better batsmen and in the last World Cup [in 2012], he was the star for us. People have a few dips in form.”
One cannot fault Sammy for what he stated. Yet, it was clear that Gayle needed to rotate the strike in the early stages. In the circumstances, it led to his opening partner Dwayne Smith having to take chances in going over the top.
Samuels found himself often hitting balls straight to fielders. It left Sammy and Dwayne Bravo with no alternative but to open their shoulders in the latter part of the innings. And their stats bore testimony.
Sammy scored 101 runs off 45 balls for a strike rate of 224.44, and being dismissed only once in five innings, he had a wonderful average of 101.00.
Bravo made 103 runs off 59 balls for a strike rate of 174.57.
The spinners Sunil Narine and Samuels Badree were outstanding. Off-spinner Narine was the most economical, conceding 4.60 runs per over in taking six wickets (ave: 15.33), while leg-spinner Badree had the most wickets (11) at 10.27 runs apiece with an economy rate of 5.65, with both bowling a maximum 20 overs.
Left-arm medium-pacer Krishmar Santokie and Samuels, with his off-breaks, both conceded under seven runs an over but there were still question marks over Sammy bowling only three overs in the tournament, while Bravo, who sent down eight overs, was affected by a side strain in the last
couple of matches.
Fast bowler Andre Russell took six wickets
(ave: 14.83) and went at 7.97 runs an over.
In the match against Sri Lanka, Russell and Santokie were expensive with Santokie taking two for 46 off four overs and Russell, one for 37 off three overs.
It will always be debatable whether Russell should have bowled the last over of the innings. He is an attacking bowler who tends to try a few things and bowling at the ‘death’ is not easy. Some of the best bowlers in the world have been caned in the last couple of overs.
But one must give Sri Lanka a lot of credit. They started briskly, and then lost three quick wickets before rebuilding through Lahiru Thirimanne with 44 off 35 balls and Angelo Matthews, who made 40 off 23 balls.
In the T20 game, you can be on a high one moment and then suddenly hit a low. When 17 runs came off the first over in the West Indies innings, one got the feeling that a high strike rate would be sustained. Suddenly, however, only 13 were scored off the next five overs and losing Gayle and Smith in the space of four balls in the fifth over from Lasith Malinga, to be followed by Lendl Simmons in the eighth over by which time the score was 34 for three, put West Indies under serious pressure.
Bravo again tried his best with a knock of 30 off 19 balls before the rain came shortly after his dismissal.
Sammy said he felt confident that had the rain not intervened, West Indies could have won, no doubt based on the way he and Bravo batted against Australia and Pakistan in the preceding matches. Again, you must admire him for his positive thinking.
Yet, there are a few things which West Indies could learn from the way India have played to deservingly reach Sunday’s final after beating South Africa by six wickets today.
The Indian batsmen are not only attacking from the start but they also rotate the strike smartly. It should be an intriguing final.
While the attention has been mainly on the men, the West Indies Women deserve some praise for reaching the semi-finals as well before agonisingly losing by eight runs to title holders Australia, who also beat them at the same stage in the 2012 T20 World Cup.
Though disappointed that neither the West Indies men nor women reached the final, we must thank them for keeping the interest among the fans alive.
(Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights.)