West Indies players evidently don’t take Test cricket as seriously as other nations, and that showed in Dominica last week when they were defeated by Australia in only three days.
In fact, two of the West Indies’ best players were performing in 20-over games thousands of miles away in the NatWest T20 in England.
Australia reclaimed the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy in Roseau on Friday by nine wickets, but had Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy been in the lineup things might have been different.
Although Marlon Samuels and Shane Dowrich made a gallant 144-run stand for the West Indies, which ensured Australia would have to bat a second time to claim victory, the batting was still woeful.
After the pair were dismissed in quick succession as West Indies lost their last seven wickets for just 35 runs, Australia knocked up the runs for a comfortable victory.
It was a typical capitulation by the West Indies, who had raised hopes of a Test revival following their recent 1-1 series draw with England.
Jeffrey Dujon, the former Test wicketkeeper in a West Indies side that was dominant in the 1980s, said the difference in the sides is that the Australians have “the discipline, the perseverance and the patience.”
Dujon added that he did not see enough determination from the players, and it also missed the steadying influence of the dropped veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is still willing to play in Tests, unlike Gayle.
Sammy, the former captain, retired from the Test format last year at age 30.
All-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard have not been selected since allegedly leading a player revolt during last year’s disastrous aborted tour of India.
Ironically, while the Windies were heading for defeat in Dominica, Gayle and Sammy were in action, playing in the NatWest T20 in England.
Gayle belted 85 not out for Somerset, soon after smashing an impressive 151 not out, the highest score ever for a losing side in a Twenty20 match. Sammy was not as impressive for Nottinghamshire but looked far more relaxed than when playing for West Indies.
New coach Phil Simmons wants to put all the politics aside and hopes the best West Indies absentees return to the fold. The second and final Test begins in Jamaica on Thursday, but that is unlikely to happen.
The long-term disharmony in the West Indies camp is still evident, apparently exemplified by captain Denesh Ramdin criticizing Samuels for getting “sucked in” to his dismissal at a pivotal moment, despite his fine knock of 74.
That is grossly unfair considering the Jamaican slugger was the team’s star performer with the debutant Dowrich, who hit a marvelous 70.
Ramdin made little contribution with bat or ball in this match and should have singled out the team’s true failures rather than blast one of its heroes.
At least Ramdin praised Devendra Bishoo and Dowrich, but the captain’s lack of sensitivity is a reflection of the constant tensions in West Indies squads.
Team spirit has never been great since the glorious days ended more than two decades ago, and it seems it will take a long time yet before it reaches that optimum level again.