West Indian cricket – Why The Economist failed to predict a stunning victory

West Indian cricket – Why The Economist failed to predict a stunning victory

Apr 9th 2016 | KOLKATA | The Economist Magazine

West Indian cricket logoWRITING about West Indian cricket last year, The Economist tried to explain “why a dazzling team has faded”. On April 3rd in Kolkata, the West Indian men’s and women’s teams both dazzled by winning the Twenty20 (T20) championships. We feel nearly as sheepish as the bookmakers who put the odds of that happening at 150 to one.

Caribbean players excel at T20 cricket, a three-hour version of the game in which each side bowls 20 overs (six ball-tosses towards the batsman). When they come together every few years for international T20 tournaments they do well; the men won a world championship in 2012. Where they fall short is in one-day international (ODI) and five-day Test matches. In fact, those failures are one reason for the West Indies’ T20 success.

Unlike richer, better-managed rivals, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) does not have the money to lure the best cricketers away from high-paying T20 leagues to play international games. Caribbean men have thus become T20 specialists. Five of the men’s team that beat England in the final in Kolkata now only play T20 cricket; none of the English players does. The West Indians overpowered them with skills honed in T20 leagues: big hitting (Carlos Brathwaite stunned England by hitting four consecutive sixes in the final over) and bowling techniques crafted to avoid such disasters. Luck helped: Darren Sammy, the men’s captain, won all six coin tosses, allowing his side to bat second, so it knew just how many runs it would need to win.

Despite the West Indians’ T20 success, the men rank eighth among Test cricketing nations and failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy, a tournament for the top ODI nations, to be held next year.

Even as they celebrated, the victors grumbled. Mr Sammy said his teammates felt “disrespected” by the WICB, with which they have been feuding over pay and selection criteria. Stafanie Taylor, the women’s captain, pleaded for “some infrastructure”, without which the team would “deteriorate”. After their triumph, the West Indies men will return to nomadic T20 careers, flitting from league to league throughout the year. The champions may never play together again, Mr Sammy said.

The WICB’s president, Dave Cameron, promises to find ways to allow the men to play international matches in all three forms of cricket. The International Cricket Council is trying to reduce scheduling clashes between club and international games. Its chairman, Shashank Manohar, wants to reverse a decision in 2014 that awarded more revenue to Australia, England and India at the expense of smaller teams, like the West Indies. If that happens, the Windies may yet dazzle again.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21696549-why-economist-failed-predict-stunning-victory-windies-won

RALLY ROUND THE WEST INDIES ~ DAVID RUDDER

PAUL KEENS-DOUGLAS ~ Tanti At De Oval

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