Euro 2020 Special

Why are West Indies a declining force in T20I cricket?

The West Indies cricket team were considered the titans of cricket, and lately, in the 2010s era as they won two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups in 2012 and 2016.

However, the Men in Maroon have been in a downward spiral in the latest editions of the T20 extravaganza with a group stage finish in the 2022 edition.

Questions have been raised, but sometimes the answers are difficult to come through for a team that has a squad that individually has a standing on its own.

Contract issues, commitment to the team’s cause and squad depth are some of the prominent reasons behind West Indies’ fall from grace in the 20 overs, and we discuss them in brief.


Financial instability

A few seeds of financial instability in West Indies cricket were sown in the 1990s and have taken root since then. Among the many episodes of this series, one can fondly remember the 2014 face-off between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

An internal salary dispute over a ‘misleading’ memorandum of understanding saw the Men in Maroon call off the fifth ODI of their multi-format tour of India. In response, India called off the tour and announced all bilateral tours between the two nations would stand suspended.

Tensions eased to a certain extent in the coming years, but come COVID-19 pandemic, the island nation hit a new low. Owing to the global economic recession, the WICB decided to temporarily cut salaries and funding across the entire regional cricket system by 50 per cent.

This gave rise to another yet familiar issue, that is, not paying match fees to international and regional players.

In turn, West Indies had to borrow money from various external sources to pay the players and also turn over the USD 20 million institutional debt.


Commitment issues and franchise cricket exposure

The West Indies players, unhappy with the financial situation, would step back from giving it all for the island nation.

Former captain Daren Sammy gave his honest opinion when asked about the decline of the Calypso Kings’ legacy in T20 international cricket. Speaking on the players’ passion to represent the country, he said, “Gone are those days when you played for love. Love doesn’t buy you groceries from the supermarket.”

Indeed, in truth, the luxury on offer from lucrative deals in franchise T20 leagues has proved to be a better option for West Indian cricketers.

Celebrated stars like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine have since become globetrotting players.

But, despite the experience and entertainment shown by the Windies players in tournaments like the Indian T20 League, Pakistan Super League and Big Bash League, their output hasn’t reflected on the international format.

This, in turn, has raised questions whether the cricket board should set up stricter laws to prevent cricketers from pledging themselves to commitments outside the island nation.


Squad depth

Taking points 1 and 2 into consideration, the next issue that has posed to be a problem for the West Indies is their squad depth.

Players declining calls to be part of the team or the absence of big-name cricketers due to faltering form has led to a wide gap in the availability of players to complete a formidable roster.

A team that is blessed with hard-hitting batting power and impressive wicket-taking prowess, the recent showing at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 outrightly indicated the lapse in the strategy adopted before and during their campaign in Australia.


Final thoughts

The West Indies cricket board has responded to their premature exit from the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, stating a thorough ‘post-mortem examination’ will be carried out.

However, it is just one of the many routes available for the fallen giants to pull themselves back from their downward spiral.

West Indies’ apparent fall from grace in the T20I format is something not foreseen by many onlookers but it is safe to say that the window of opportunity to bounce back is not shut off yet.




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