Ireland humiliates West Indies in New Zealand

| February 17, 2015
Archiman Bhaduri for CaribDirect

Staff Writer – Archi

Sports news. Alarm bells have long been ringing in the Caribbean over the West Indies’ chaotic buildup to the cricket World Cup and those fears came true on Monday when the islanders slumped to a four-wicket loss to Ireland in Nelson, New Zealand. Coming off a thrashing to England and an embarrassing scare against Scotland in the warm-up games, the inevitable occurred at Saxton Oval as Ireland batsmen reeled in their first innings total of 304-7 with over four overs to spare.

Few expected West Indies to seriously challenge for the title, but the opening loss could leave the twice world champions in danger of not making it through to the quarterfinals from Pool B. West Indies had already been in disarray well before the tournament, with a crippling contracts dispute between players and the board scuttling what would have been a lucrative India tour.

That dispute cost regular captain Dwayne Bravo, the players’ spokesperson, a place in the World Cup squad along with big-hitting batsman Kieron Pollard. The captaincy was handed to a rookie in fast bowler Jason Holder, a 23-year-old with about 20 One-Day Internationals to his name.

Worse was to come with leading spinner Sunil Narine pulling out of the tour, citing a lack of confidence in his bowling action after being cited during a club tournament. Narine was free to play at the World Cup, having not breached the guidelines at any ICC tournament.

Holder has struggled to convince he is leading a united team at the global showpiece but he was nowhere to be found at the post-match media conference. Instead it was teammate Darren Sammy, his mentor, facing the inquisition.

Sammy began by apologizing, not for the team’s performance, but for cursing himself with a crude word that was picked up by the stumps microphone during his innings of 89. “Yeah, today we took them for granted as we fielded,” he told reporters. “So I can’t really pinpoint on what exactly. We just were not putting in a good game of cricket.

Captain Jason Holder. Photo courtesy www.cricketcountry.com

Captain Jason Holder. Photo courtesy www.cricketcountry.com

“Our bowlers have been going for some sticks over the last few games and today was no different against an experienced Irish team where you know they had a game plan and they stuck to it.” Though Sammy and Lendl Simmons (102) combined for a 154-run sixth-wicket partnership to rescue West Indies’ innings after it had slumped to 87-5 in the 24th over, the bloodless display in the field will have been galling for home fans.

After seamer Jerome Taylor captured the fourth wicket of Andy Balbirnie with Ireland still needing 20 runs for victory, none of his team mates celebrated the dismissal. “When things are not going your way, it’s always difficult to motivate yourself,” Sammy said. “But as a group, you’ve got to keep believing and we need to find some inspiration somewhere, and we need to find it quickly.

“I will always try to be positive in my approach, help our young captain Jason and hopefully the rest of the team could follow.” West Indies have a mountain to climb now.

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