LONDON – Legendary captain Clive Lloyd has joined a growing chorus of great former West Indies players in questioning the Caribbean side’s match strategy at the ICC World Cup here, and has urged them to change course and “raise their game”, if they are to get the better of New Zealand in Saturday’s do-or-die clash in Manchester.
In reference to the tactic of short-pitching bowling throughout the tournament, the 74-year-old Lloyd said the Windies lacked “variation to their game plan” and had failed to adjust to the English conditions which had so far proven batsman-friendly.
West Indies were left on the brink of elimination last Monday after Bangladesh comfortably chased down a national team record 322 to win by seven wickets in Taunton with 51 balls remaining.
“I was disappointed with the West Indies performance against Bangladesh. It would appear that they only have one way to play with no variation to their game plan,” Lloyd wrote in his ICC tournament column.
“They are trying to blast people out and I don’t think they understand the English conditions. You cannot always do that here because the pitches during this competition have been batsman friendly despite the rain. It might be green but it doesn’t always fly around.”
He continued: “Bangladesh were ready for that sort of onslaught and to chase down 320 with eight overs to spare is a great effort, but it is poor cricket by the West Indies.
“They have themselves to blame if they miss the semi-finals. They should have beaten Australia and they definitely should have seen off Bangladesh as well. But the Bangladesh side did their homework and deserved their victory.”
Lloyd’s sentiments echoed those of contemporaries Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Andy Roberts who earlier this week criticised the Windies bowling strategy as “one-dimensional”.
West Indies used short-pitched bowling to good effect in their opener against Pakistan as they won by seven wickets, and also stunned Australia with the same strategy before the reigning world champions recovered to win by 15 runs.
The Jason Holder-led unit then struggled against England in an eight-wicket defeat at Southampton, and Lloyd warned if there was not significant improvement against the Black Caps, a similar fate also awaited them.
“The bowlers need to stick to a line and length instead of being wayward in both, which leads to leaking runs profusely,” said Lloyd, who oversaw West Indies’ triumphs at the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 in England.
“If they do that against New Zealand they will be punished, and yet I still believe the West Indies can perform very well against them if they stick to the right script.”
West Indies are seventh in the 10-team standings on three points from their five matches. In order to move into the top four, they need to win their remaining matches against New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, and hope other results go in their favour.
And while Lloyd said it was “increasingly unlikely” the Windies would reach the semis, he said it was important they produced winning performances going forward, starting with the critical fixture against New Zealand.
“There is still a mathematical chance that the West Indies can make the semi-finals. And even though it is looking increasingly unlikely, it is absolutely vital that they try and finish the tournament on a high note,” Lloyd stressed.
“New Zealand are one of the teams I said would surprise most people before the tournament started and I have been proven right. The West Indies need to raise their game if they are to have a chance against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“In Kane Williamson, the Black Caps have a terrific captain and an even more impressive batsman. His innings to knock off South Africa was absolutely masterful, one of the finest I have ever seen in an ODI game. He is a fantastic reader of the game and knows how to adapt to what is going on around him.
“The West Indies would benefit from learning a thing or two from Williamson.” (CMC)