Pak-West Indies series still unable to attract Pakistani spectators

By: Khurram Kaleem      Published: 01:12 PM, 12 Dec, 2021
Pak-West Indies series still unable to attract Pakistani spectators
West Indies cricketers arrive at Karachi Airport.

This is the irony of fate the team that was once considered to be the most dangerous in the world of cricket is now unable to attract an audience in a country like Pakistan where people are crazy about this sport. Aggression is the main characteristic that has won the hearts of Pakistani spectators and there has never been a doubt that the West Indies team is the most loved in Pakistan. People want to see their favorite stars but, unfortunately, in the current tour, those stars of West Indian Cricket are not available. Chris Gayle, Andre Russel, DJ Bravo, Jason Holder, Shimron Hetmeyer, and Lendle Simmons are not part of the touring squad. 

The days are gone when, the winner of the first two limited-overs World Cups, West Indies never had to wait for domestic series to defeat any opposition. They ruled the cricketing world for decades by defeating other teams at their home grounds with the help of a fierce bowling attack and a hostile batting lineup. Touring West Indies or even hosting them in their home grounds was a nightmare for almost all the cricket teams. 

Today West Indies is going through the worst period of their cricket history. In test cricket, they are at the 8th position just above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. One Day cricket is also telling the same story where West Indies is also at the 8th position only ahead of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. And in T20 cricket their position is even worse. T20 World Champion of 2012 and 2016, West Indies is now at the 9th position in the world ranking.

Multiple reasons are said to be behind this downfall of Cricket in West Indies. Fast Bowling has been the main strength of West Indies when they were ruling the world. They produced Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Craft, Malcolm Marshal, Sylvester Clark, Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose, Ian Bishop, and dozens of great bowlers who could cement their place in the team in the presence of bowling legends. These days West Indies is striving hard to find out even a single genuine fast bowler for the team.

The influx of League Cricket is one of the major reasons for the downfall of West Indies in international cricket. These days players prefer playing league on representing their countries. This caused many conflicts among West Indian Cricket Board and players, which later resulted in a ban on key players. For bilateral series, West Indies Board hardly succeeds in gathering the best players for home and away series. This, undoubtedly, damages the ranking of West Indies Cricket team in the international arena.

Due to excessive T20 and League Cricket, utility players are more in focus instead of specialist players. Now every West Indian player wants to become an allrounder, so that, he could secure his future by being part of any league. This is causing a shortage of specialist players in the available pool. Even in the visiting squad of Pakistan, the visitors have just two specialist batters. Darren Bravo is the main experienced batter of the team who has represented the nation in 119 ODIs, where he scored 3071 runs with an average of 30.71. He has scored 4 hundreds and 18 half-centuries and he has an average strike rate of 70.32 percent. In T20 cricket he has not been able to impress the world cricket with his performance. He has represented West Indies in just 21 T20I matches and his total score is 345 with an average of 19.16. He has not been able to reach the figure of 50 runs in his entire T20I career. The second Specialist batter is Brandon King who has represented his nation in just 4 ODI and 11 T20I matches.

West Indies will have to rely on their Allrounders and other utility players for their batting. Nicholas Poran is a wicketkeeper batter and the same is the case with Shai Hope who is also a wicketkeeper batter. Interestingly, both are the better with the bat in the squad. Nicholas Pooran has represented his team in 31 Odis and has scored 1044 runs with an average of 47.45. He also has a very handsome strike rate of 103.88 percent. He has played in 46 T20Is and has scored 737 runs with an average of 22.33. Shai Hope is the best of the lot. He has played 83 ODIs and scored 3599 runs with a handsome average of 52.92. In his ODI career, he has scored 10 centuries and 19 half-centuries. In 13 T20Is he has scored 238 runs with a handsome strike rate of 136.00 per cent.

Kieron Pollard and Rostan Chase fall in the Allrounder list. Pollard is the most experienced of the lot with 119 ODIs and 93 T20Is. He is considered to be one of the finest limited over-allrounder who can turn the table single-handedly. At the same time, he is in the twilight of his career, which has affected his performance. Rostan Chase has never been taken as a threat by the opponents in the limited over cricket. The same is the situation with the fast bowling attack. None of the fast bowlers could be considered world-class.

Though PCB has announced 100 percent seat availability in the National Stadium of Pakistan this is not enough to attract Pakistani fans. Interestingly, Pakistani cricket fans are not familiar with the names of half of the touring squad. PCB is facing difficulties in selling the tickets. Just a couple of days left before the match and ticket sale centres are waiting for the cricket lovers. This time PCB has fixed the rates of the tickets on the lower side, even then it is not attracting the spectators. Cricket Fans want to watch good cricket and it is only possible if good players are available for the series.

Khurram Kaleem

The writer is a senior journalist and currently working as Director News City 42