Former West Indies vice-captain Deryck Murray believes the Caribbean side read too much into their performance against England in the five-match one-day series earlier this year, and it provided a false premise for unrealistic expectations at the World Cup.
West Indies held the world number one and World Cup favourites, England, to a 2-2 draw back in March, triggering widespread hope they could mount a serious challenge at the global showpiece in England.
However, the Windies flattered to deceive, managing just two wins in nine outings in the tournament, to finish ninth in the 10-team standings – only above minnows Afghanistan playing in their first World Cup.
“If we are realistic, just before the tournament, Bangladesh had beaten us in a tournament with Ireland, Afghanistan had beaten us fairly regularly,” Murray told the Mason and Guest cricket radio show.
“I think there was a bright spark in the tournament that we played with England and we forgot to look at the fact that England came almost on holiday – a little winter break. They were caught very complacent.
“They played bad cricket rather than we played excellent cricket, although the result was excellent, and I think that buoyed our hopes that we could compete with the top boys.”
West Indies opened their World Cup on May 31 with an impressive seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in Nottingham, further reinforcing their tag as one of the tournament’s dark horses.
However, they then lost six of their next seven matches to be eliminated from contention for the semi-finals, wrapping up their failed campaign with a tense victory over Afghanistan.
Murray, a member the Windies World Cup-winning sides of 1975 and 1979, said the Caribbean side’s results should not have been a surprise since it merely reflected their form in recent years.
West Indies have gone without a one-day series victory for five years and won just 12 of their last 28 ODIs in the lead-up to the World Cup.
“At the end of the day there were so many ‘ifs’. But the problem is with the ‘ifs’ – if this happens, you will win,” Murray contended.
“You can’t just keep hoping that if something [happens], if the board had gone a little further, if this person didn’t drop a catch … but it was all very predictable over the form of the West Indies team that have been representing the colours over the past few years.
“That’s been the story of the day so why should we go into the highest tournament in the world and suddenly everything goes right.”
The 76-year-old Murray, a former Cricket West Indies director, said the team faced several challenges heading into the tournament, which eventually proved impediments to performance.
More importantly, he said a reality check was needed regarding the West Indies side and their ability to deliver consistent results.
“We all knew team selection [could have been an issue] – we weren’t sure we had the best 15 players there. That was confirmed,” Murray contended.
“We weren’t sure that the players were fit enough, we weren’t sure that the players were mentally prepared, we weren’t sure we had the right leadership – the coaching staff etcetera – and they were proved all right in the analysis.
“We have to accept and temper our disappointment with the fact that reality stepped in and it’s a very good opportunity for us to say ‘look this is what the reality is, we are the number nine or number 10 team in the world, we have to do things a lot differently’.
“It cannot be business as usual and hope that if we execute, or if we do this or if we do that, it will be alright on the day – that’s not going to happen. We need to change.” (CMC)