In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Fazeer Mohammed writes about how the recently completed tour of Pakistan by the West Indies was nothing short of a humiliation for the visitors and why the West Indies can consider themselves lucky to have qualified for the 2019 World Cup.
By Fazeer Mohammed (6th April, 2018)
With the very greatest respect and regard for the good people of Pakistan delighting over the return of official international cricket to Karachi and the manner in which they annihilated the West Indies, those three T20 Internationals were, from a Caribbean perspective, nothing but a humiliating experience, both for the way the matches themselves unfolded and for the surreptitious manner in which a team was put to together by a Cricket West Indies administration that has shown absolutely no regard whatsoever for whatever vestiges of pride and prestige are left in the team for which they are ultimately responsible.
I have actually given myself 24 hours from the third and final thrashing administered by Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men to calm down a bit and not come across as someone fixated narrow-mindedly with West Indian considerations. And of course it has to be considered that since lifting a second World T20 title so dramatically in Kolkata two years ago, Pakistan have comfortably had the measure of the champions, winning six of seven matches (three in the United Arab Emirates, four in the West Indies) before the three-in-a-row romp against a hapless side.
Still, the margin of the defeats – 143 runs, 83 runs and by eight wickets with more than three overs to spare – were depressingly one-sided, even if it afforded the tens of thousands of cricket-starved fans at the National Stadium almost non-stop celebration from the first match on April 1 to the finale on April 3, ironically, the same day of the triumph over England in 2016 at Eden Gardens courtesy of Carlos Brathwaite’s unforgettable four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over of the final.
Brathwaite, now installed as the regular captain of the T20 team, wasn’t in Karachi along with many other prominent members of the squad who opted not to travel to Pakistan, no doubt still concerned about the security situation there.
Look, I know this is a matter that infuriates many Pakistani fans who may feel that these players are just a bunch of pampered cowards and that the incidents of violence in the country are few and far between and very much distant from the cricket environment. But you have to appreciate how these occasional attacks are presented in the Western media and how cricketers, many of them, will feel that they are financially secure enough not to have to take any risks in pursuit of the US$25,000 reportedly offered by CWI to players to participate in those Karachi matches.
This West Indies team skippered by Jason Mohammed is what we refer to in these parts as a “pick-up” side, meaning that you just take on board whoever happens to be standing in the way and available for the trip. As such, nothing can be read into the composition of the squad other than they were prepared to go given the financial incentive and at the urging of an administration required to fulfil a contractual obligation. No collection of players under the banner of the West Indies should ever be so constituted. Hopefully there will never be such an experience for Pakistan as well.
Add to that the fact that CWI said nothing about the three matches while the Pakistan Cricket Board were providing all the information leading up to the brief series and the abiding impression to Caribbean followers of the game was that this was almost a secretive operation.
While there have been many trials and travails over the past two decades, West Indians are still remembered for the flair, the brilliance and the supreme professionalism they once displayed as a matter of course on the field. That admiration extends from the Kashmir to Karachi and every other part of the cricketing world.
To see the team presumably representing the people of these tiny territories pulverised from pillar to post begs the question of the purpose of the exercise, other than to give Pakistani fans long-overdue cause for home celebration. At least there was much jubilation because the visitors didn’t offer much of a fight.
But then, that’s what sport is supposed to be – a contest. Those three matches at the National Stadium in Karachi certainly weren’t that.
In another matter, there is much relief throughout the region that the West Indies will be at the World Cup next year in England. Not celebration, just relief, because for the two-time World Cup winners to have to go through the qualification event in Zimbabwe was seen as hugely embarrassing here.
They made it, yes, but their performances were hardly convincing. In every single match there were periods of real struggle and of course in the critical fixture against Scotland, Jason Holder’s men benefited from a poor umpiring decision and then torrential rain to sneak a five-run win that confirmed World Cup qualification.
That unconvincing effort, which included three losses to Afghanistan (one in a warm-up match), leaves most West Indian fans with very little expectation for what is to come in just over a year’s time.
I’m glad I waited a day before writing this!