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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
West Indies lose the plot
By Paresh Soni
BBC Sport in Antigua

West Indies began the World Cup with the dream of becoming the first side to win the trophy on home soil.

West Indies captain Brian Lara
Brian Lara wants more crowd support for his team

But the team were far from convincing in their first round group games and began the Super 8s with defeats on successive days against Australia and New Zealand.

Now they appear in real danger of failing to qualify for the semi-finals unless they can lift their performances.

So what are the reasons for their struggles? BBC Sport sought the opinion of respected cricket writer Tony Becca of the Jamaica Gleaner, who has been covering the sport for 34 years.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BATTING?

Tony Becca: "We believe in what is termed talent but as we've seen with this current crop of players, they play one or two lovely cover drives and are then back in the pavilion - they are simply not disciplined enough.

"These batsmen are the best in the West Indies and play the same way in club cricket. They score the same number of runs there and in first-class cricket and carry it over when they play in the West Indies team. Their attitude is terrible."

IS THE BALANCE OF THE TEAM RIGHT?

Chris Gayle bowling against New Zealand
Gayle has only taken two wickets in five matches at the World Cup
TB: "They played an extra batsman against New Zealand and that is something I cannot understand or support.

"I believe we should play five or six batsman, a wicket-keeper and four bowlers. Of course there is a place for good all-rounders but you cannot go into a cricket match you need to win thinking you can restrict or dismiss the opposition with two main bowlers.

"Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels hardly bowl for Jamaica and are not selected for them to bowl. And almost all the other teams in the World Cup play with four main bowlers and look for 10 overs from the others.

"We're looking for 30 overs from makeshift bowlers and you cannot play cricket like that. So if you don't make 350 you've virtually lost."

IS BRIAN LARA'S CAPTAINCY A PROBLEM?

TB: "He baffles me. I know why they keep Dwayne Smith in the team, to explore his potential to win a game with the bat, although he has never done that.

"In the Pakistan game he hit 32 off 15 balls and took 3-36 but he has barely bowled since and is still in the team batting low down.

606: DEBATE

"But whatever Lara wants Lara gets. I don't think coach Bennett King has much of a say in the selection of the team."

IS BEING HOSTS THE PROBLEM?

TB: "No I don't think that has had any affect. The reason the home team has not won this competition before is because the hosts were never the best team.

"South Africa had the best chance in 2003 but they blew it and here the West Indies were not among the top four favourites."

CAN THEY STILL QUALIFY FOR THE SEMI-FINALS?

Dwayne Smith
West Indies need more from talented players like Dwayne Smith
TB: "No-one that is close to West Indies cricket and is a patriot is surprised by what is happening here.

"Their chances of qualifying were tight from the beginning with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka in there but it's even tougher now they have lost two games.

"Apart from the Pakistan game in Jamaica the crowds have been terrible, so the tournament will not lose much even if they fail to qualify, but it will be terrible for the competition if the home team does not make it."

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

TB: "Cricket in this region is very weak from the top right down to the bottom and a lot of work needs to be done to build it up back to where it was 20 years ago.

"People say it is because we don't have as many young boys playing the game as they used to. Certainly soccer has developed rapidly in the Caribbean but the issue is dedication not numbers.

"When I look at boys in our society, they are not as focused as girls in sport, school or the workplace. They don't train as hard as they used to 15, 20, 30 or 40 years ago and are suffering because of that.

"As for Lara, he will go on the tour of England because the West Indies Cricket Board will not want people to believe he was sacked because they failed in the World Cup.

"But that trip will be the end of his tenure."



SEE ALSO
Cup bosses blamed for poor crowds
31 Mar 07 |  West Indies
Styris eases NZ past West Indies
29 Mar 07 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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