It was an all too familiar story that played out at Edgbaston in the first ever day/night Test in England. West Indies lost 19 wickets in a day to lose by an innings, batting for a combined duration of six and a half hours. But the most damning fact is that this sort of capitulation was not entirely unexpected. The West Indies have been lurching from one disaster to the next for a long time. They drew with England in their last series, in the Caribbean in April-May 2015, but it has been mostly downhill ever since.
West Indies have won just two Tests in their last 18, losing 13 of those games. Clearly, while they are not winning, they don’t even seem to have the ability to hold on for a draw. Recently, their No.11 batsman Shannon Gabriel got out playing a big shot when only one over remained to be negotiated to ensure a drawn series against Pakistan.
In eight of their Tests over this period, the West Indies have conceded a lead of over 200 on first innings, showing the gulf of class between them and most of the other teams. They have managed to be in front on first innings in only one match out of their last 18.
Too few 5-wicket hauls
Bowlers win matches. The likes of Shannon Gabriel, Devendra Bishoo, Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins have impressed with the ball off and on, but they have not done it consistently enough or as a unit to have the desired impact. The West Indians have had 9 five-wicket hauls in the last 18 Tests, but they have translated into only two victories. Opposition bowlers have had 14 of them in the same period.
Centurions of wrong kind
Test cricket is a battle of attrition, with quality batsmen forcing opposition bowlers to a hard graft, forcing them to bowl a lot of overs and conceding a lot of runs. West Indies bowlers have conceded over a 100 runs in an innings as many as 20 times in the last 18 Tests, while their own batsmen have forced opposition bowlers to do so on just six occasions.
Different fortunes in T20
While their Test team flounders, the West Indies are an irresistible force in Twenty20 cricket. They have won two of the last three World Cups in the shortest format, in which their most famous stars join hands. They have a successful Caribbean Premier League which attracts a lot of spectators while the Test team plays in front of sparse crowds as nobody wants to pay to see their team lurch from one seemingly inevitable defeat to another.
Speaking of disaster
“This lot are the worst Test team I have seen in more than 50 years of watching, playing and commentating on cricket. They can’t bat, can’t bowl. I take no pleasure out of saying this as I played against some of the greatest players the world has ever seen wearing the maroon cap of the West Indies.”
– Geoffrey Boycott
“I talked with Sir Viv Richards and Sir Andy Roberts before and during the Test about how we used to dominate world cricket, about pride and passion. That’s what’s lacking. People feel sad for us and that’s just not right.”
– Curtly Ambrose
6 – Number of centuries West Indian batsmen have scored since their home series against England more than two years ago. Of these three have been by Roston Chase. In stark contrast, opposition batsmen have feasted on their mediocre bowling, helping themselves to 22 hundreds in the last 18 Tests.