Reactions to the two-time champions West Indies’ failure to qualify for the main draw of the T20 World Cup continues to flow, with former Cricket West Indies director Baldath Mahabir saying it is one of the “darkest days” in West Indies cricket history and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting describing it as a “disgrace.”
West Indies’ early exit came following defeats to ICC Associate Members Scotland and Ireland in the preliminary round last week.
In an ESPN Cricinfo report, Ponting said: “It’s a disgrace. It’s so bad for their cricket. They’ve got too much talent in that team and in West Indies cricket not to be able to make it through to the next stage of a World Cup.”
He added: “And even one of their main players not making it to the flight to get over here for a World Cup… To me this sort of sums up probably how little these events mean to the West Indies players and if you look at the way that they played, you’d say the same thing. [Nicholas] Pooran and these guys, they’re much better players than what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, so no doubt there’ll be some soul-searching done when they get back.
Meanwhile, Mahabir agreed that there is talent in abundance in the Caribbean but said there is a lack of proper systems to refine that talent. “First of all, I think it is one of darkest days in West Indies cricket history,” Mahabir said.
“Secondly, I am very disappointed but quite frankly I am not surprised and it has nothing to do with team selection. I think regardless of who we went to the World Cup with, we would have been challenged,” he added.
“The taking of raw talent and making it into world beaters, that is where we are very weak. Brian Lara famously said we take good talent and make it bad (average). Well, he preached! Without calling names, I have seen people on the Caribbean circuit regress rather than progress. We have to find ways of taking our talent and making optimum use of it,” Mahabir continued.
Looking back, Mahabir noted that it was in 2021 that the West Indies won one game in the Super12 stage of the T20 World Cup and before that the team had to go through the qualifiers to get into the 50 over World Cup.
“In 50 over World Cups, we won in 1975 and 1979 and we reached the final in 1983 and since then we never even made it close to the final, so there has been a decline in our cricket that we are making no attempt to arrest,” said Mahabir.
“The answer to me is not in team selection. It is not about that. So, there could be calls for firing and justifiably so but if you put anybody with the same systems we have in place and the lack of meaningful development and grooming people for leadership positions and roles, we’re going to get the same results,” he added.
Mahabir also doesn’t see improvement on the horizon and said the people in charge of West Indies cricket should be thinking beyond the next 50-over World Cup.
“The bottom line for me is that if you don’t strengthen the structure and the foundation of West Indies cricket then we will always be in this position and we will continue to flounder and maybe even drop lower down the ladder,” Mahabir warned.
“It seems to me that we will have to go through the qualifiers again (for the 50-over World Cup). We need to rebuild. Yes, we need to participate in these international tournaments and try to keep a competitive edge but we must have an eye on a longer-term vision rather than on the short term which is the next World Cup,” he continued.
“The next World Cup is way too close for anybody to be able to make a substantial difference to West Indies cricket. There needs to be a longer-term vision and to me that is what we needed,” he concluded.