I have a suggestion to the West Indies board, one that this venerable body should really take seriously. Before the West Indies come to Australia for the five-Test series it would be a good idea to tour Bangladesh - in order that they can win a few matches. Bangladesh wants a Test series soon and they would be more than willing to host one.
In Australia, the West Indies will be attempting to keep a team from wiping out their own record (the one set by Clive Lloyd's world-beaters who won 11 Tests on the trot). Take it from me, by the end of the Australian summer, Australia would have won 15 Tests on the trot. At worst, it will be 14 with the final Test ending in a draw because the Australians have relaxed.
Extreme predictions? Too early in the year to make them? I have a browser window open to a scoreboard which shows a so-called international team having recorded a total of 61 all out when faced with a 100-run first innings deficit. The bowlers they were up against are not, and I repeat NOT, the best in the world. (The West Indies will be up against the best when they come to Australia.)
Take a look at some of the footage from the second Test, a record breaking one because it ended in two days, and you will begin to understand why the West Indies should go to Bangladesh in order to win something. The way Jimmy Adams, the captain, got out in the first innings, is something to be laughed at. This is a man who is supposed to have experience, maturity, leadership qualities and thousands of other attributes.
Examine the way Brian Lara lost his wicket. Look at Campbell, Griffith and Hinds. And then have a look at the technique displayed by a greenhorn, Sarwan, who incidentally remained not out in both innings. What excuses do these losers have to offer? What are they trying to do out there in the middle? Play beach cricket and go home for a beer?
They can play this way and still laugh all the way to the bank because they know that the cupboard is bare. When there is competition for places, when there are others breathing down their backs, they will be forced to play well to keep their place in the side.
I have tremendous sympathy for Ambrose and Walsh. They broke England in the first innings and got them down to 105 for five. It was time for the support bowlers to stand up and be counted. Nixon McLean ended with figures of one for 93 in 22 overs. Reon King had none for 48 in 11 overs. With support like that and fielding of the type which the West Indies displayed, you need 500 runs on the board to even think of drawing a match.
I am not one who inclines to the belief that a team should depend on one man. But the fact remains that one man could have pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for the West Indies, a man who inspires by example. But, frankly, what stake does Lara have in the game any more? When his personal reputation (and the operative word is personal) was under real threat, he came up with innings that silenced everybody. Now he has no incentive to perform. Even if he scores ducks in both innings of the final Test, can anyone see him being dropped for the tour of Australia? The hunger is not there anymore in Lara's case. He has done his deed, got his reward and he has no need to perform any more. His bank balance will not suffer. Oh, West Indies pride does get dented badly, but then who cares about that?
Anna Kournikova is similar in some respects, only she never had to perform at all to earn the type of money she is pulling in. She has no incentive to win a tournament and I am willing to bet that she will never win one either. Occasionally, comments from the media and the players get to her and she reacts a bit. But on the whole, she does not give a damn. She can go out in the first round, but often more pictures of her appear in the papers and on TV than the eventual winner! And the clink of money dropping into the till never ceases.
So where does that leave the West Indies? I would strongly suggest that the board takes a look at the cheapest fares to Dhaka. I am fully prepared for the massacre that will take place Down Under. Those of us who have followed the team for decades are now resigned to the shambles that passes for a team these days. But the West Indies will be better able to take it if they come here in a winning frame of mind. Else, there may be need for doctors of the mind to take over on the return trip to the Caribbean.