Has fire returned to Babylon?

By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published February 4, 2019 in the Western Mirror

The fire with which West Indies played their cricket in the 1970s and 1980s has been extinguished for several years. It seems that unquenchable fire is returning.

The Windies team in 1976.
(Credit: Patrick Eagar)

I had the opportunity to speak with the president of Cricket West Indies, Dave Cameron, a few years ago and I relayed to him in jape, a prerequisite my father believed every West Indian player should have before they don the maroon, grey and white.

As I have mentioned in the past, my father has not missed the coverage of a West Indian cricket match in over 50 years. In that time, he has travelled to see the team play; he has had his ears affixed to transistor radios and often his eyes glued – many days and nights – to the screens of tellies in support of the lads in both domineering and abject times. He has never abandoned West Indies cricket, whether during voluminous or exiguous times. Continue reading

West Indies 2018 Year in Review: Flickers of hope in utter darkness

By Zaheer E Clarke
Published January 14, 2019 in the Western Mirror

Overall, West Indies had a disappointing year in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. However, the performances of some players shun through and gave us flickers of hope amidst the darkness. 

Source: Outdoor Keeda

At the end of 2017, the disposition of West Indies fans was that of an exhausted traveller walking across the Sub-Saharan desert, destitute and necessitous of an oasis of hope and decent results. West Indies ended 2017 in abject fashion, losing six consecutive matches in New Zeland: two Tests and four One Day Internationals (ODIs). The new year started, and with it renewed hope that West Indies will reverse its fortunes and be competitive in all formats of the game.

TESTS

In 2018, West Indies played nine Test matches, winning three, losing five and drawing one. Given the opposition this year — which included Sri Lanka, Bangladesh (over two series) and India — many would argue that West Indies should have won more Test matches. The three-Test Sri Lankan series at home ended 1-1, thanks to West Indies’ resurgent wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich and superb bowling by Shannon Gabriel. West Indies defeated Bangladesh in the subsequent series at home 2-0, with Kraigg Brathwaite finding form with the bat while captain Jason Holder found brilliant form with the ball. Unfortunately, with West Indies bowling department blighted with injuries to Kemar Roach and Holder, and a suspension due to folly by Shannon Gabriel, India and Bangladesh defeated West Indies 2-0 in both away series. Continue reading

2018 Test team of the Year: The bowlers strike back

By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published January 7, 2019 in the Western Mirror

Which players deserved to be in the 2018 Test team of the year? See my picks and share yours below.

In a year when the bowlers in Test cricket dominated their batting counterparts in a fashion not seen in 59 years, the Test team of the year is littered with bowlers who produced excellent performances yearlong. Nonetheless, several batsmen made their mark with outstanding performances.

The criteria for my team of the year was simple. All players up for consideration had to have played five or more Test matches during the year for their respective teams. It would be unfair to consider a player for the team of the year who had played only a handful of games during the year. With New Zealand playing only seven Test matches all year and India playing a high of 14, a five-Test minimum was a fair compromise for the players to qualify for the team of the year. Here is my Test XI of the year. Continue reading

Shimron Hetmyer reminds me of Brian Lara

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published October 29, 2018 in the Western Mirror

At 21 years old, Shimron Hetmyer reminds me of a young Brian Lara. 

Shimron Hetmyer was all business, slogging the ball into the leg side and racing away towards a hundred during the 2nd ODI between West Indies and India. © Associated Press

Sometimes, when you see a player for the first time, you can summarise their future and potential instantly. Other times, it might take you a look or two, to properly evaluate whether stardom or slumdog awaits them. In 2016, during the ICC under-19 World Cup, Shimron Hetmyer, who was the captain of the West Indies under-19 team, was one of those players whom many believed had the potential for future greatness. However, at the onset of the tournament, his star never shun bright.

Hetmyer registered 0, 6 and 17 in the first three matches in the under-19 World Cup. West Indies made it out of the group stages due to a last over mankading incident where quick thinking Keemo Paul saw his Zimbabwean opponent drifting out of his crease during Paul’s delivery stride. Captain Hetmyer and his team came under severe scrutiny regarding how the game was won and whether it was in the true ‘spirit of the game’. Some individuals believed Hetmyer and his men followed the laws of the game. Others believed that they broke the spirit of the game. Hetmyer defended his team and their play, and it was thereafter Hetmyer came into his own. Continue reading

Cooky, the last of a dying breed of Test specialists

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on September 10, 2018, in the Western Mirror.

Alastair Cook bucks the trend in an era where the demand for T20 cricket specialists is high. He is a specialist Test cricketer and likely the last of a dying breed.

Alastair Cook announced his retirement from Test cricket.
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Last week, Alastair Nathan Cook announced that he would be retiring from Test cricket at the conclusion of the enthralling England-India Test series this week. For the average cricket fan engulfed in the razzmatazz of Twenty20 cricket, Cook would hardly feature on their radar.

For the better part of 12 years, Cook has been a mainstay in the English cricket team, albeit, mostly their Test team. Before his last Test match which begun last Friday, Cook has appeared in 161 Test matches for England, scored over 12,000 Test runs, amassed 33 centuries and 57 half-centuries, at a respectable average of 45.35 runs per dismissal. Continue reading