2021 brings more struggles for regional cricket, JCA stuck in the mud
THE YEAR 2021 was once again dominated by the novel coronavirus, which impacted the world of sports, and cricket was no exception, with the phrases bio-secure bubble, isolation, and quarantine heard constantly as teams tried feverishly to fulfil their packed and hectic International Cricket Council tour schedule.
The West Indies Test side started the year brightly with a 2-0 series win over Bangladesh in that country in February, and many felt that the year would be a turning point for the region in the game’s long format.
But not for the first time when talking about West Indies cricket, success did not breed success. A 0-0 drawn series at home against Sri Lanka in March was followed by a demoralising 2-0 series loss, again in the Caribbean, to South Africa in June. Then there was a one-all draw with Pakistan in a keenly contested series in August.
The regional side would then end the year with an emphatic 2-0 loss to Sri Lanka away to see the West Indies winning three Test matches, losing four and drawing two.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite not only led his troops on the field, but he also led in the middle with the bat, putting together a team-leading 675 runs in 10 matches in 2021, with one century and four half-centuries.
Young Barbados left-hander Kyle Mayers also showed some glimpses of his immense talent, scoring 636 runs, including an unbeaten double century on debut against Bangladesh.
Jamaican Nkrumah Bonner was the only other West Indian to score over 500 Test runs in the calendar year, with 577 runs in nine matches. Kemar Roach led all bowlers with 27 wickets, while Jason Holder had 22 and Rahkeem Cornwall, 21.
The regional side played one less ODI than they did Test matches in 2021, chalking up four wins and five losses. Three of those wins came in March when the home side brushed aside Sri Lanka, however, the Windies lost 3-0 away to Bangladesh earlier in the year and 2-1 to Australia in July.
Shai Hope was dominant with the bat throughout in 2021, scoring 310 ODI runs, including a century and two half-centuries. Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo were the only other two batsmen to get to triple figures for the Windies in 2021.
One bright spark for the West Indies in the 50-over format in 2021 was the emergence of left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, who notched up 14 wickets in nine games for the Men in Maroon.
The shortest format for the regional side was by far the most disappointing as the former champions were touted to show their dominance in what was a World Cup year.
Controversy over the selection of veteran players such as Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul in September to the World Cup squad was just the start of the problems for the regional side, which managed just nine wins and 13 losses in T20Is last year.
A dismal ICC World T20 campaign signalled the end of the side’s dominance over the last few years, with the Windies managing just one win at the World Cup.
Off-the-field problems marred proceedings as Gayle got into a spat with former great Curtly Ambrose, who spoke openly about not including the self-styled Universe Boss in the World Cup team. There was also widespread condemnation about the omission of former captain Jason Holder.
Administratively, Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerrit came under the slightest of pressure to hold on to his post before a challenge from Guyanese Director Anand Sanasie and Barbadian Calvin Hope was aborted in April.
While Skerritt’s second stint at the helm has been marred by poor on-field performances by the men’s team, the same can’t be said about the women, who continue to show improvements under coach Courtney Walsh.
A 3-2 ODI series win over Pakistan was followed by a 4-1 loss to South Africa, after which the ladies ended the ODI season with a 3-0 win over Pakistan before heading to Harare for the ICC World Cup qualifiers, which was eventually called off after one round due to the coronavirus outbreak in Africa.
The women did well in T20Is, beating Pakistan 3-0 before drawing 1-1 with South Africa.
Those team performances came as individuals enjoyed personal milestones.
Stafanie Taylor, for instance, went past 5,000 ODI runs, and Anisa Mohammed was the leading bowler in the world in One-Day Internationals in 2021, with 20 wickets in 12 matches. Hayley Matthews had a stellar year for the West Indies Women as she featured in the Top 10 among bowlers and batters in One-Day Internationals.
The all-rounder topped off an excellent campaign with the ICC’s Women’s Player-of-the-Month award for November.
While there was no regional four-day cricket in 2021, CWI managed to complete the Super 50 Cup in Antigua, with Trinidad and Tobago securing their 13th title following victory over Guyana in late February.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots also secured their maiden Caribbean Premier League T20 title after beating the St Lucia Kings in a last-ball thriller at Warner Park last September.
Locally, the re-elected Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven and the Jamaica Cricket Association were still not able to put up stumps for any of its national competitions even as the Social Development Commission managed to host its annual Community T20 tournament, which culminated in November with Fairfield of Manchester coming out on top after a victory over Clarendon’s Racecourse in the final.