Expectations Everyone who followed the England v/s Pakistan series prior to the world cup expected a lot of runs at the 2019 edition of the world cup. People were expecting an Individual 300, a team's 500 and what not. So what do you expect from the West Indian batsmen under such conditions? Well, if you follow cricket you would have expected some fireworks from them especially looking at their form in the IPL 2019. Everyone did that actually. We all were waiting for the Caribbeans to entertain us with some monstrous scores at the world cup but the expectations were crushed to death as neither the pitches remained as they were in the series between England and Pakistan nor the Caribbeans could replicate the success they achieved at the IPL.
Were they finished? After losing 6 out of their 9 games with a washed-out game, they finished ninth out of ten teams. A couple of their wins came in against the Asian neighbors, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What went wrong? The Caribbeans tried to play the one day format in the T-20 mode which bought their downfall. As mentioned above, the conditions present in the series between England and Pakistan turned out to be a trap. The conditions for most of the world cup matches were not conducive to strokeplay and, unfortunately, they lost Andre Russell in the middle of the tournament which didn't help their cause either. They lost more than half of their games from a position where it looked like they had sealed the game already. They had Australians 5 down for 79 but then they let a bowling all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile achieve his highest score in list A cricket which resulted in Aussies getting a healthy first innings total of 288. Later, they failed to chase 79 off last 12 overs when they had one of the most dangerous hitters, Andre Russell to do the job.
They piled on 321 against Bangladesh but their bowlers could not protect the score. In fact, Bangladesh chased it down with 51 balls still remaining in the bag. Chris Gayle battled his temptation to go big against New Zealand and with a magical ton from Carlos Brathwaite, they looked like chasing down the target of 291 but once again, the demons of T-20 struck and they lost the game by 5 feet (Scorecard might show you they lost by 5 runs). With an over remaining already, Brathwaite tried to go for the glory and was caught just short of the ropes. Maybe he could have taken a leaf out of Kane Williamson's book in the first innings.
Player who disappointed the most Around three players qualify for this list from the Caribbean squad but we will talk about Chris Gayle here and spare Shai Hope and Evin Lewis. Reason being, Chris Gayle was playing his last world cup and the expectations were high not just from the Caribbean fans but from the fans all around the world. The boss disappointed more than a billion people for sure. He signed off with 242 runs at an ordinary average of 30.25 and a strike rate of 88.32. His best innings came against New Zealand in the chase of 291 where he scored 87 off 84 balls with the help of 8 fours and 6 sixes. As a fan, you'd expect much more than that from the most senior player of your team.
Bright Spot Nicholas Pooran, the 23-year-old left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman who is already one of the most sought after batsmen at the T-20 leagues, proved his mettle at the world cup too. He is fit and strong and plays some unbelievable shots. He just needs to add some temperament to his batting and who knows, he could be the Adam Gilchrist of West Indies! Pooran finished the world cup with 367 runs at an average of 52.42 with a hundred and two fifties. His runs came at a tremendous strike rate of 100.27 and all his 10 sixes of the tournament are probably still chasing the voyager somewhere in the interstellar space.
What's next for them? The current West Indian cricket team has enough talent to bring back their glory from the 70s. But they always had the talent, right? So why their cricket team is still struggling like this? It has something to do with the way cricket has been managed in that part of the world. They had a squad talented enough to retain their glory even after the disastrous 2007 world cup. But the way they managed players like Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, and many others makes us feel that there's nothing right with the WICB. All these players went on to make a good name for themselves in the T-20 leagues around the world but the Caribbean cricket could never recover from the nosedive. Once again, as the 2019 world cup comes to an end, they have Fabian Allen, Evin Lewis, Sunil Ambris and other dozens of talented player to groom but whether they do that or not, we will see in next few years.
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Often Carriberan team exhibit entertaining cricket and give their fans the chance to cheer and enjoy. The likes of Chris Gayle has been always a great entertainer. He never misses a chance to animate the crowd and always looks for some vicious hitting. But in this world cup, he wasn't in the rhythm and all his charm as a cricketer and as an entertainer faded, maybe forever. This was his last world cup and will be missed in the international cricket.
Banging Pakistan badly in the first game in their opening match of world cup 2019, it looked West indies are back with the old form. But as the tournament progressed, it proved fatal for the WI team. WI has great talent but it will take them some more time to regain their prime form and dominate the world cricket. Wish them luck!