Hope Gayle comes back to help the West Indies team back to winning ways.
By Sunil Gavaskar
India’s win in the first Test against the West Indies while welcome, should not be seen as the end of its problems after the disastrous tour of England. The Indians without their top experienced players beat the West Indies in the Caribbean Isles in June- July earlier this year, so to beat them in home environs shouldn’t be too much of a sweat. Therefore one shouldn’t read too much into the series.
What it will do is to get the players in some sort of match fitness for the more sterner examination in Australia and that tour is going to tell us more what direction Indian cricket is taking than this three Test match series against the West Indies. The West Indies of yore were as formidable as the Australian and South African teams today if not more so and sadly they are a shadow of the team they were once.
However there are some exciting youngsters coming through for the Windies and as they get more experienced and play more they could well start to win Tests for the Windies as was seen in Bangladesh. They certainly gave India plenty to think about after taking a handy first innings lead but then went into a shell which allowed the Indian spinners to dominate and get India back in the game. India’s experienced campaigners were not going to miss out a second time and Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman all got runs and helped India to a comfortable win.
To beat India in India takes something special and only the Australians and South Africans have been able to do so in recent times. The Australians have always been a determined lot who will fight till the last run is scored or the last ball is bowled. They have also taken a different approach than other teams in trying to go out and understand the culture of India and in doing so have actually been able to understand what makes Indians tick and what gets them down. They have used that to good effect on the field.
South Africa is another team whose players have tried to make a similar effort and with the advent of the Indian Premier League and the experience they have had of playing in the subcontinent they have also done well in India. The other teams generally keep to themselves and try and do the same things that they do back home, which is to congregate in the bar after a day’s play, have a drink or two and go in the hotel restaurant for dinner and then back to their rooms. They thus feel more cloistered and are less receptive to adjusting to the culture in other countries and as a result are invariably feeling homesick within a week or so of coming to the subcontinent and this affects their performance on the field.
There is therefore more attention given to trying to show the difference in conditions rather than looking to conquer them and that at the highest level is asking for trouble. So they moan and whinge and look for excuses all the time aided to some extent by a media that is also looking for some stories to try and put down the subcontinent some way or the other.
The West Indies have also not helped themselves by not resolving the issues with Chris Gayle. He has had a terrific impact in the subcontinent not just in the Indian Premier League and the Champions League, and who can forget his 333 in Sri Lanka against the Sri Lankans. Having him in the team would have helped the talented young batsmen like Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo to develop faster. That the matter still lingers does not speak well more of the board than Gayle because it is simply a matter of a phone call. Unfortunately it is more a case of egos that has prevented a resolution to the problem. In the meanwhile Gayle plies his trade for clubs in other countries whose spectators get to enjoy his batting and big sixes while the West Indies struggle against good bowling attacks. No individual is greater than the game of course but by trying to show that to Gayle it is the West Indies who are stuck in a groove and not really moving forward. Even if the current team may not be involved in it the fact that it lingers on is not helping them for despite being away from it they will still be distracted about it and that will not help their cricket.
As an admirer of West Indies cricket one hopes that the issue is sorted out sooner than later and Gayle comes back to help the West Indies team back to winning ways.