West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy seems to be one of the few players genuinely upset that they lost to Ireland at the World Cup.
The match in Nelson, New Zealand, on Monday was never going to be easy, considering West Indies had their typical chaotic build-up to the tournament being staged in Australia and New Zealand, but losing by four wickets to Ireland was an upset.
Sammy is a former West Indies captain who led with unquestionable passion, although whether he actually warranted being in the team was a constant source of irritation because his limited ability was always mocked.
Speculation was he was only skipper because he was blessed with an even temperament, great diplomatic skills and not being a confrontational figure when the West Indies Cricket Board made its constant rash and often ridiculous decisions.
Nevertheless, since being relieved of all captaincy duties, the 31-year-old St. Lucian has raised his game and is now selected solely on merit.
Sammy sounded a rallying cry to his teammates in the aftermath, beseeching them to step up in every aspect, particularly the bowling and fielding, which was lamentable at times against Ireland.
West Indies pacer Jerome Taylor was the most successful bowler, yet his three wickets cost an alarming 71 runs. Sammy was extremely emotional talking to the media after the shocking defeat and has since publicly apologized for using profanities picked up on an on-field mic during the game and for which he has been fined.
Sammy was one of few West Indies successes in this dismal performance. He posted a personal best one-day international score of 89 during a 154-run stand for the sixth wicket with Lendl Simmons, who made 102.
West Indies had been 87 for five, looked doomed, but recovered to 304 for seven in their 50 overs. Not a great score but had they bowled and fielded well, victory was achievable.
But on a good batting wicket, Ireland finished on 307 for six, winning comfortably with 25 balls to spare.
Although it was a surprise, considering Ireland are not a Test playing side, the gulf was not that wide in the first place because West Indies have been mediocre at best in one-day and Test cricket for years.
It’s only in the big money, short attention span 20-over format that they excel – and even then they lose unexpectedly at times because of lack of application rather than deficiencies in talent.
Dropped catches were costly too with Ireland’s Ed Joyce – who made 84 – reprieved on 42 by Darren Bravo when he belted West Indies captain Jason Holder towards the boundary.
Niall O’Brien finished not out 79, but on 38 when he skied a Taylor delivery, he was dropped by Holder in what should looked a comfortable catch.
Chris Gayle let the side down again when the onus on him was to make a big opening score – and not to needlessly run out his own player, Darren Bravo – early in the game. Bravo did not score a run and Gayle’s 36 took an excruciating long time to come.
Holder looks out of his depth. A 23-year-old novice, he does not even deserve to be in the side, much less skippering it. This is another example of the total malaise West Indies has put itself after decades of mismanagement, poor resources, farcical preparations, protracted disputes and bitter in-fighting.
Despite all the distractions, Sammy insists there was no excuse for the debacle. He hopes to put things right on Friday when West Indies face Pakistan in their second Group B game at the Hagley Oval and if that ends disappointingly too, then an early flight home is inevitable.
West Indies consider themselves in a three-way battle with Ireland and Zimbabwe for one quarter-final spot in Pool B with South Africa, defending champions India and Pakistan expected to fill the top three places.
Four teams from each of the two groups of seven will qualify for the knockout phase.