'No Fire In Babylon': ODI World Cup to be held without West Indies for first time

07:59 PM Jul 01, 2023 | PTI |

Harare: The West Indies will not be part of the ODI World Cup for the first time in the history of the tournament after being eliminated from the Qualifiers – a result that plunged country’s cricket to an unimaginable low, on Saturday.


Coming into the do-or-die Super Six contest, West Indies, packed with some bona-fide T20 superstars, suffered an embarrassing seven-wicket defeat against Scotland after managing a modest 181 in 43.5 overs.

It was an impressive show by the Scots, especially by all-rouder Brandon McMullen, who first took three wickets, and then scored a patient 69 off 106 balls to steer his side to a famous victory.

Such was the West Indies’ plight that the top score was a painstaking 45 off 79 balls by Jason Holder.

Scotland chased own the target in just 43.3 overs, ensuring that West Indies won’t compete in the ODI World Cup for the first time since the inception of the tournament in 1975.


The World Cup is set begin in India on October 5 across 10 venues.

This was also Scotland’s first victory over the West Indies.

Clive Lloyd’s team had won the first two editions in 1975 and 1979 and played the 1983 final, where it was beaten by India.

Matthew Cross (74 not out off 107 balls) anchored the chase perfectly and it always seemed one team would win and that certainly wasn’t the West Indies.

With two more matches left, even if West Indies win, they can reach up to four points while Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe already have six points in their three games.

Scotland with this win are on four points and would reckon that an upset can help them sneak into the tournament-proper.

It appears to be the final nail in the coffin for a cricket team that has been on a terminal decline for the past two decades.

While they won two T20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016, the performance in two traditional formats — Tests and ODIs have spiralled southwards.

Ironically, West Indies were forced to play the qualifier before the 2019 World Cup also but eventually managed to finish in top two along with Afghanistan to save themselves from embarrassment.

But a team that had Nicholas Pooran, a Rs 16 crore IPL recruit, Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Alzarri Joseph, Romario Shepherd, Akeal Hossein, all who were part of this edition’s IPL, in its ranks, this is certainly the lowest ebb.

Perhaps the performance is symptomatic of times which is very different from the 1970s when some of the wold class cricketers from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago came together and were the flag-bearers of ‘Black Caribbean Community’ which had been under oppression for the longest time.

The brilliant documentary ‘Fire in Babylon’ showed what West Indies cricket meant, it wasn’t just flair, fun and frolic but also a responsibility towards community.

It showed how the team came together after England captain Tony Greig commented before the 1976 series that he would make them ‘grovel’, a derogatory term used for ‘Black Community’ referring to slavery.

Michael Holding spit fire at the Oval and Viv Richards scored a near triple hundred.

Their brand of cricket helped them become world beaters in limited overs cricket, first 60 overs and then 50 overs as most of their top players played in county or league cricket in England.

But call it a sign of times, the fire has extinguished and in last decade has seen the emergence of highly-skilled T20 mercenaries or Gun for Hire as one can refer to them, who haven’t exactly been bothered about the national cricket team’s benefit.

Perhaps the concept of multiple nations, playing under one flag is flawed in today’s day and age.

What has also adversely contributed is the riches that accompanies T20 cricket caravan wherever it sets its base. The leagues have made it virtually impossible to have a quality West Indies team that is proud of wearing the iconic maroon jersey.

Call it an irony that during the tournament in Zimbabwe, the man who donned coach’s hat was none other than last global trophy winning skipper Darren Sammy,whose heart still bleeds for the West Indies.

In the commentary box was Carlos Brathwaite, who hit those four incredible sixes on that fateful night in Kolkata, seven seasons back to win the 2016 T20 World Cup for the Caribbean side.

The Richards, the Lloyds, the Holdings, the Roberts, the Garners, their legacy lay in tatters, scattered across the lush green turf of Harare Sports Club ground on July 1.

The Kieron Pollards, Dwayne Bravos, Andre Russells, Sunil Narines have time and again refused to play for the West Indies as international cricket couldn’t have secured a future that they aspired for their families. So West Indies cricket lived in a comatose state.

On Saturday, Scotland just removed the ‘patient’ from ventilator.

West Indies cricket is dead. Long Live West Indies cricket.


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