Early exit for rusty Windies
There are a host of reasons behind West Indies' stunning exit from the inaugural ICC World Twenty20, but chief among them would have to be the glaring lack of preparation.
The Twenty20 format, the extra shorter form of the sport, is a demanding, fast-paced game that cannot be mastered overnight and a shortage of this type of cricket in the Caribbean was always going to leave the West Indies without the required experience.
As captain Ramnaresh Sarwan was nearing the end of his recovery process from a damaged shoulder in July, he called on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to organise a camp of around ten to 14 days to help prepare the team.
Either his request fell on deaf ears or those in charge didn't see the need for such an exercise. Maybe, lack of finances was a problem.
It was also bandied about that some players were playing professionally in England, but when last I checked, I counted that nine players were under one-year retainer contracts with the WICB.
In the absence of some form of consistent Twenty20 cricket over the past few months, a camp was a must and an early elimination by West Indies cannot be viewed as a complete surprise.
Two Twenty20 internationals against England two months ago could hardly be regarded as the ideal build-up for such an important tournament.
As a bowler in this form of the game, it can be a nightmare if you are not accustomed to bowling when batsmen are consistently attacking with bold methods and touches of improvisation. You are going to be found wanting and West Indies' bowlers found out the hard way.
As a batsman, scoring at a run-a-ball might be acceptable in a 50-overs-a-side match, but it isn't good enough in a Twenty20 contest. If you face 52 balls nearly half of the allotted 120 and score only 51 runs, you are a source of pressure for your fellow batsmen.
Some might argue there is nothing called Twenty20 specialists, but there are a few players who emphatically announced themselves at the inaugural Stanford 20/20 tournament last year that deserved to be in South Africa.
Big-hitting Kieron Pollard and Esuan Crandon are among those and consideration should also have been given to William Perkins, Imran Khan, Travis Dowlin, Mahendra Nagamootoo and Samuel Badree.
For all of the obvious lack of exposure to Twenty20, there appeared to be good intentions to prepare the West Indies players.
A Cricinfo report on May 16 quoted the then WICB chief executive officer Bruce Aanensen as saying a regional Twenty20 competition would be held in August to be followed by a tour to Canada in preparation for the world event.
What became of those plans?
We are hearing that the Stanford 20/20 tournament is to become part of the WICB's calendar for the next five years and it is hoped the timing of the competition should be taken into consideration when the international Twenty20 tournaments are played.
After the success of the inaugural Stanford 20/20 in July and August of 2006, it was a pity that the second tournament could not have been played in the same months this year. It would have served as valuable preparation for those going off to South Africa.
The next World Twenty20 is set for England in 2009, presumably sometime between June and September, and it would only be appropriate if the Stanford 20/20 competition of that year is held a few weeks before the world tournament.