International cricket, a welcomed return to Pakistan

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published September 18. 2017

With a World XI team playing a three-match T20I series in September, Sri Lanka due in October and the West Indies due in November, regular international cricket is set to return to Pakistan after years of absence.

A Pakistani fan holds a placard aloft to welcome international cricket in the country, Pakistan v World XI, 1st T20I, Independence Cup 2017, Lahore, September 12, 2017.
©AFP

On March 3, 2009, the cricket landscape in Pakistan changed forever.  Sri Lanka and Pakistan were engaged in a three-match ODI and a two-match Test series in January to March of that year. In the first Test, two Sri Lankans, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, scored double centuries in their team’s first innings total of 644 runs for seven wickets declared. Pakistan replied with a mammoth 765 runs for six wickets declared, with Younus Khan scoring 313 runs, becoming Pakistan’s third triple centurion. The match ended in a predictable draw.

In the second match, Sri Lanka batted first again and scored 606 runs before being all out on the second day. Samaraweera once again scored a double century. By the end of the second day, Pakistan was coasting at 110 runs for one wicket in 23 overs and four balls. Continue reading

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I disagree with Tony Becca’s conclusion

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published September 12, 2017, in the Jamaica Observer

While Tony Becca and I agree on not knowing whether Kieron Pollard bowled a deliberate no-ball, we disagree on whether Evin Lewis could have reached his century.

Tony Becca (left) is a veteran sports journalist and an esteemed opinion columnist. He has covered West Indies cricket with great ardour for several decades.
(Photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner)

Every weekend while growing up I had to read the Tonys — Tony Becca, Tony Cozier and Tony Deyal. For me, respectively, they are the transition, vocabulary and satire gods among Caribbean columnists. Unashamedly, I am overly biased towards them, since they all loved cricket — my favourite sport — and wrote about it with immense ardour on all occasions.

When I first considered becoming a sports columnist, Becca was one of the first writers I studied fervently. Eventually, Becca’s writing style and strengths subconsciously intertwined with mine and became a component of my own. Week after week I would groom my writing into a mould comparative to him, Cozier, Deyal, and others. Continue reading

West Indian ‘schoolboys’ humble mighty England

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published September 4, 2017

Described as ‘schoolboys’ playing against men after the first Test, West Indies beat England in the second Test to register their first Test match victory in England in 17 years. 

West Indies huddle up during nets.
(Source: Reuters)

Two weeks ago, West Indian cricketers were quickly labelled as ‘schoolboys’ unfit to play Test cricket. This occurred after West Indies’ unholy capitulation to England by an innings and 209 runs in the first Test match of the series at Edgbaston. The defeat was West Indies’ sixth worst over their 89-year history in Test cricket. Almost instantly, the whispers of an urgent need for a two-tier system in Test cricket overflowed the commentaries in the newspapers, on the radio and on the telly.

West Indian and English legends lamented the inglorious surrender by the current West Indies team. For several of them, it was diametric to the legacy of the 1980s West Indies team, which domineered world cricket.

“This West Indies lot are the worst Test match team I have seen in more than 50 years”

– Geofrrey Boycott

Continue reading

West Indies overseas woes continue

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published August 28, 2017

West Indies’s capitulation in the first Test match in England is unsurprising. They have won only three Test matches overseas in the last 17 years against the top-7 teams in world cricket.

Joe Root and Jason Holder pose with the Investec series trophy and the Wisden Trophy, Edgbaston, August 16, 2017.
©Getty Images

At the end of the first Test match in the West Indies tour of England – two weeks ago – former players, fans and pundits bemoaned West Indies’ dismal display. The players had given the West Indian fans hope from their performances in preluding warm-up matches that the team might be formidable opponents against the third-ranked English team. However, what transpired in the first Test can only be described as a debacle and a capacious capitulation.

West Indies lost the first Test by an innings and 209 runs, its sixth-worst loss ever and the third-worst against England. Interestingly, West Indies has suffered three of their six-worst losses in the past three years – against South Africa in 2014, Australia in 2015 and now England. Ungodly, four of the six have occurred in the past 10 years alone. Continue reading

Common sense returns to West Indies cricket

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published July 17, 2017

Suddenly, the Darren Bravo-CWI impasse has been resolved, the hard-line CWI selection policy looks set to be softened and it’s ‘Hakuna Matata’/’Oh Happy Days’ in West Indies cricket again. But for how long?

“Oh happy day (oh happy day) Oh happy day (oh happy day)”

It seems amicable days might be here again. Last Thursday, West Indies cricket loving fans’ hearts were jolted with a plethora of news suggesting that the various impasses between the board and its players are simply halting. Media release, after media release, and stories all pointed to a thawing of the antarctic and misanthropic relationship between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), now Cricket West Indies (CWI), and its players. If only a fool’s hope, it seems both the board and its players have discarded their mephitic differences and have joined in a warm embrace singing ‘Kumbaya, My Lord’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’. What took them so long, you may ask? How would I know?

After close to two decades of strikes, quagmires and morasses, which have left West Indies cricket at the crypt of world cricket and the heart of its fans affixed in doldrums, the fans are now being sold that they have ‘no worries for the rest of their days. It’s a problem-free philosophy.’ Who is buying this hug-me-tight moment? And how long realistically do you think it will last? Continue reading