England vs West Indies: Embarrassing loss at Edgbaston highlights decline of Caribbean cricket

It says something when an ex-England captain in Michael Vaughan voices "fears" for the state of West Indies cricket.

AFP, Aug,20 2017

Birmingham: It says something when an ex-England captain in Michael Vaughan voices "fears" for the state of West Indies cricket.

But the fact such comments have been made for the best part of two decades, and not solely after the Windies' innings and 209-run defeat by England in the first Test at Edgbaston tells its own story.

Windies lost 19 wickets on Day 3 against England and slumped to a humiliating loss at Edgbaston. AP

Windies lost 19 wickets on Day 3 against England and slumped to a humiliating loss at Edgbaston. AP

Britain's inaugural day/night Test was already a landmark clash.

It became so in another way as the Windies lost 19 wickets on Saturday, with England cruising to victory inside three days.

England piled up 514 for eight declared on the back of Alastair Cook's 243 and captain Joe Root's 136 before Windies were shot out for 168 and then 137 after following-on.

At one point Stuart Law, the visitors' coach, had his head in his hands and it was easy to sympathise with the Australian's despair as his side made several 'schoolboy errors'.

This was the latest in a long line of inept Test displays outside the Caribbean by the reigning World Twenty20 champions.

'Saddest series' 

The West Indies, who dominated the long format in the 1970s and 1980s, last won a Test in England 17 years ago.

And since 1997, excluding matches against perennial strugglers Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, they have won just three out of 87 away Tests in total.

"Every time they have arrived in England, they seem to have got worse," Vaughan told the BBC's Test Match Special.

Windies' plight has not been helped by players being barred from Test selection unless they appeared in the entire domestic four-day competition.

But star names faced with a choice between a lowly-paid tournament — the economics of many West Indies territories mean officials cannot match the wages on offer elsewhere in the world — or a clashing but lucrative Twenty20 league, simply took the better deal.

Add in a bitter dispute between several leading players and Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron and you have a situation where Jason Holder's Test squad are without the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and few other senior cricketers.

Meanwhile, the privately run Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament is continuing at home while a three-Test tour of England is in progress.

In the absence of 'Test windows', where there are no competing formats running at the same time, top Windies cricketers will most likely continue to sign contracts that offer them the greatest chance of financial security.

"I find it difficult to think they can go on without any senior players," said Vaughan.

"I really fear that this series could be one of the saddest for Test cricket."

The current Windies side also face the problem of constant and unfavourable comparisons to their 'golden era' teams, especially in England where the likes of Clive Lloyd (Lancashire), Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall (Hampshire) and Vivian Richards and Joel Garner (Somerset) all starred in county cricket as well.

'Rough time' 

An "amnesty" means the hardline selection policy is set to be relaxed for the subsequent one-day series against England.

They have problems in the 50-over format too. They failed to make this year's Champions Trophy and the twice former champions will also have to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England after sliding too far down the rankings for direct entry.

England coach Trevor Bayliss suggested the Windies' woes were just part of the cyclical nature of international cricket.

"West Indies are going through a rough time but 20, 40, 60 years ago there were other teams that were going through rough periods," the Australian said.


But Johnny Grave, the English chief executive of CWI, who was among the crowd at Edgbaston, insisted he was not relying on a change of luck to spark a revival.

"They are a better side than they have shown and that's the disappointing thing," Grave, who took charge in February, told the Sunday Times.

"But one of the biggest misconceptions of Caribbean cricket is that nobody cares.

"The talent is there — we just won the Under-19 World Cup.

"We've now got to create a system that makes our 18-year-olds as good as England's, India's and Australia's when they get to 23 or 24," added Grave, who previously worked at county side Surrey and England's Professional Cricketers' Association.

"We need the players on side and we need to work with them. They're the product and they're the future," he said.

Published Date: Aug 20, 2017 | Updated Date: Aug 20, 2017

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4969 124
2 South Africa 3888 111
3 Australia 4174 104
4 New Zealand 3489 100
5 England 4829 99
6 Sri Lanka 4058 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 6386 120
2 India 6680 119
3 New Zealand 6646 117
4 England 6550 115
5 Australia 6143 112
6 Pakistan 4875 96
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 2262 126
2 Pakistan 2843 124
3 India 3385 121
4 England 2029 119
5 West Indies 2538 115
6 South Africa 2238 112