Wednesday 13th February, 2008

 

Injuries continue to be Windies bugbear

 
 
 
 
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West Indies all rounder DWAyne Bravo took 14 wickets at 20.30.

BY ALVIN CORNEAL

Sometimes, I am unable to understand why they do not listen to people like the legendary Sir Gary Sobers when he is talking about West Indies cricket.

He may not be philosophical in his observations, neither will he make statements which cannot be backed by statistics.

But he seldom expresses a view that is anything but fair comment to anyone concerned.

His recent comment about the WI team performance in South Africa says it all, when he calls on those who have made claims to turning the corner, to refrain from rushing to judgment and pay close attention to the whole picture.

An analysis of the first Test match will reveal that there was absolute commitment on the part of the players. Bowlers kept line and length, the speedsters with venom and aggression, while the batsmanship of the temperamental Samuels, plus a swashbuckling Gayle, supported by the now absolutely reliable Chanderpaul, could easily have left us all with hope that the team and their new coaching staff were ready for the task ahead.

The challenge was now facing this group of players by way of them demonstrating some level of consistency in the future matches.

Some of us even viewed the second Test critically and spared a thought for the more competent input from the South Africans, who were literally driven by their fans to erase the lead of the WI.

Honestly, the most disturbing factor after that second Test was the number of injuries which affected the squad of players.

Was it coincidental that Gayle strained his hamstring and broke his finger, Edwards hurt his ankle, Chanderpaul needed a runner, Bravo was unable to bowl, ALL at the same time.

Some will call it bad luck. Unfortunately, I see this as a serious blow of under preparedness for the tournament.

With skipper Chris Gayle having to miss the Zimbabwe leg of the trip with a hamstring injury, one would have expected that he would be given an extensive test of fitness before allowing him to join the Team in SA.

Hamstring injuries do not repair easily, and because it is so vital for sporting disciplines which make great demands on stretching, jumping, sprinting, turning and running between wickets, the experts should have known the percentage of suspicion as to his true fitness.

Incidentally, players do not determine their own fitness levels after injury, regardless of whether or not he is the captain. That is why there are physios, team doctors and trainers in sport.

Not for the first time, Dwayne Bravo has had to stop bowling because of some muscles in the back region.

Again, some may claim that this is accidental. I humbly disagree. There should have been careful medical diagnosis as to why this injury is showing up so often.

Have we not learnt the lessons, from Taylor, Powell, Rampaul, Edwards, and others who came before them, about the problems which create these back injuries, and find ways to correct them.

This blame must fall squarely on the shoulders of the management staff, whose duty is will have been to insist that the trainer and physio conduct a proper program which would make these injuries show up well in advance of the start of a Test series.

I suppose that many will now blame injuries to the defeats in the last few matches. Boy! Are we not tired of flimsy excuses which most fans have become fed-up of hearing ?

Now we are eating at the hands of a consistent SA team which decided that they will let the West Indies know that they are not even formidable competitors in the One day game. Three straight victories and maybe the thoughts of these players eagerly awaiting the end of this tournament could be already trying to pick themselves up before the Sir Lankans arrive in the Caribbean.

If losing is painful, why then should the selectors not try to understand why we have been swamped away by a team which we had convincingly beaten in the first two matches.

Losing sometimes could be a useful catalyst for an improvement of the players, mainly because their errors can be analysed, their understanding of certain aspects of the game, will help to provide the corrective processes.

We are still at the crossroad where we are not certain as to how we will turn this debacle around.

I have heard numerous experts with all sorts of formulas which will bring home the bacon, but I am still not convinced that we are even close to the repair of this heavily complex problem, one mixed with differences in attitude, miscalculation of players ability, mental toughness, and most of all the psyche of developing a winning trend in our cricket.

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