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How low can they sink?

Rallyeee, rallyeee! Rallyeee round de West Indies! The plaintive cry, which sounds more like a funeral dirge than a song to buck people up, obviously didn't work. The main problem wasn't tackled and the results are evident; the board can keep tackling effects till it is blue in the face but until the cause is treated, the defeats will keep coming.

After the South African disaster, it was said that the West Indies could not sink lower. Well, they have proved everybody wrong. They are obviously keen on creating records. The next to go may be the 26 run total which New Zealand once managed in a Test, the lowest Test total on record.

There are other records which beckon. The West Indies won 11 Tests on the trot in the 1980s; they can go one better by losing a round dozen. Not a long distance to go for this record; they have reached the halfway mark already with this pathetic showing against Australia. Notice the reaction from the captain; it speaks a lot about his attitude. He speaks of the need for him to get centuries. Not the need for the team to be more focused, never the need for some sensible captaincy. No, he is the centre of all the efforts which need to be made. The other 10 in the team -- oh, they are there to make up the numbers.

What was this man doing playing around bowling Dillon and Adams when McGrath and Gillespie were adding 66 for the last wicket in Australia's first innings? The two main strike bowlers were rested. Why were four fielders placed on the boundary when Adams was bowling -- during an innings, Australia's first, when the number of boundaries scored was well below the average?

What is Roland Holder doing in the West Indies team? How many chances is he going to get to prove that he can score some runs? He seems to have more lives than a bunch of kittens.

Coach Marshall and manager Lloyd are reportedly not on talking terms anymore. What more does a team need? This is a disaster waiting to happen. It has a couple of times already -- in Pakistan and South Africa -- and now the coup de grace will take place at home. The media in the West Indies has not exactly played a constructive role either. The conservative Cozier has been a classic defender of Holder. Croft, the one who is trying to rehabilitate himself after being lured by the South African rand during the days of apartheid, praised the team selected for South Africa. After that, he could not find enough bad words for them. This time too, he has been full of praise for the squad selected. I wonder what his reaction will be now. (A great deal has been written about the cementing influence exerted by Lloyd when he was captain: could Croft enlighten us as to why he left the fold for no good reason? Rowe and Kallicharran had reasons, remember.)

Holding alone was honest when he wrote that the day when Lara was reappointed captain was the saddest day in the history of West Indies cricket. He is the one commentator who is not afraid to say what has to be said. But he is a voice crying out alone. The board appointed Lara for political reasons -- because the first Test was played in Trinidad -- and everybody except my three-year-old son knows that.

Where do the West Indies go from here? Well, they went through the motions in South Africa so I guess they can do the same at home. The bowlers will continue to do what they can but even the two aged warhorses need some runs to back them up. The difference between the West Indies and other teams for the last so many years has been the fragile batting. The bowlers are rarely the guilty party.

But the West Indies board need have no fear: there is a bright side to this fiasco. It is very likely that every team which was butchered during that incredible 15-year run will be lining up to invite the West Indies to tour -- just so that they can get some revenge for the hammering they were ha nded a decade or more ago. The board should be able to gain plenty of revenue. What's more they can keep all the moolah for themselves; they need not share it with a team which is not performing. And after that, some tax-free haven beckons...

Before I go, let me issue the war-cry again: Rallyeeee! Rallyee! Rallyeee round de West Indies....