‘Yesterday’ once again | local sports


“Yesterday came for tea

Sitting here in front of me

Dressed in faded flowers

And ramble on for hours

I would love to stay but I have to meet today.

FOR weeks, these lyrics from a song by a singer named Abbey Lincoln floated through my brain.

The clever and succinct way they describe the futility of trying to live in the past intrigued me. It made me think back to the fate of West Indies cricket.

This song has been in my Jazz collection for years. But just as Nicholas Pooran’s side stumbled out of the T20 World Cup, pushed over the border by Scotland and Ireland, I happened to be playing it and it felt like I heard Abbey sing it for the very first time.

Words have taken on a new meaning for an old situation.

This embarrassing exit from the World Cup was another stark reminder of how West Indian cricket has become separated from its past level of excellence.

The ‘Men in Maroon’ have been playing cricket at the highest level for far too long and have been the best team for too many decades to now produce the type of cricket in 2023 that was inferior to what even ‘minnow’ teams like the Scottish, Irish and Dutch were dating in Australia.

It was bad enough for Caribbean fans. Dear reader, you probably couldn’t step hard enough to capture the frustration and dismay you felt.

But it must have been a kind of agony hard to describe for those directly involved; those who took the hits.

The Windies players seemed helpless to bring out the best in themselves. It was as if they were sleepwalking through the preliminary round and couldn’t wake up, except against Zimbabwe.

Something had to give. For Phil Simmons, this trip to Australia was the last pressure he was willing to bear. This next round of Down Under testing will be his last as a WI coach. But he must have been on the verge of tears to see how the players he worked with during that second stint with the Windies approached the mission.

The reality that he wasn’t going to make any meaningful change probably built up for months. He said his decision to quit was not a “reflex”.

And the same feeling of sinking must have invaded Pooran since the licking of Ireland in the World T20.

Think of the ‘old’ talk the Windies skipper must have picked up on social media and the behind-the-scenes negatives that inevitably come with team failures like West Indies in September/October.

Pooran had witnessed the flack that his predecessor and mentor Kieron Pollard had to endure when his side failed to impress in the UAE in the previous T20 campaign last year.

Pollard in the later stages of his career, finally decided to walk away.

His “yesterdays” – the success of the 2012 World Cup – were long gone.

Pooran, however, is now approaching what should be the peak of his career. Having to manage the baggage of this World Cup disaster, be the target of any future failure and maintain the clarity of thought necessary to score points with the consistency associated with a world-class player was clearly not a task for which he had the belly. It is to his credit that he put pride aside and did what was probably best for everyone.

Now it will be someone else’s job – Rovman Powell? Jason Holder again? — to rid the garden, so to speak, of the faded flowers of yesterday.

In some of Pooran’s comments during his brief stint as skipper, he talked about succeeding once everyone rallied. To me, that was a hint that Pooran wasn’t leading a team where everyone rallied around each other.

The new skipper, and in fact the coach, will have to remedy this.

There will be so many things to deal with. But some of the biggest problems holding back West Indies teams will be beyond their reach to fix.

Pooran and Simmons, Pollard and Simmons, Jason Holder and Simmons and Floyd Reifer, Daren Sammy and Ottis Gibson all had to deal with teams that lacked enough world-class quality. Except for a few notable exceptions here and there, none of these combinations have been able to pull their teams out of mediocrity.

The new men will have to hope that the World Cup review commissioned by Cricket West Indies will spark a real revolution in West Indian cricket.

Otherwise, the recent past of “yesterday” will return.

• garth.wattley



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