West Indies cricket have ill-disciplined characters to thank for its misfortunes

2010-06-30 00:00

OVER the years ill-discipline has been a trademark of West Indies cricket.

This has had serious implications for the team and is perhaps one of the reasons they sit uncomfortably above Bangladesh, who are at the bottom of the ICC Test rankings.

Young West Indian cricketers have moved through the ranks witnessing primadonna behaviour from their more senior players with little accountability for their actions.

The strong-armed reaction to recent incidents involving Barbadian Sulieman Benn by captain Chris Gayle has sent a clear message to the West Indian squad that defiant behaviour will no longer be condoned. It’s taken a strong character to challenge the status quo and, despite being long overdue, Gayle’s actions deserve to be applauded.

In Sulieman Benn the West Indies have a match winner. Benn is a cricketer blessed with considerable talent and is an imposing six-foot-seven figure at the wicket.

Yet, Benn is perhaps better known for his fiery exchanges on the field than for his wicket taking abilities. Most notable was his suspension during the ODI series against Australia following altercations with Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson.

Like many other West Indian cricketers before him, Benn has got away with doing pretty much as he pleases.

It was during the fourth ODI against South Africa that Benn took it one step too far by refusing to bowl over the wicket according to Gayle’s instruction.

Captain Chris Gayle, who had clearly had enough, dismissed him from the field of play resulting in Benn forfeiting his match fee.

It was a brave move by Gayle and probably the first time a captain has stood up to Benn.

Gayle’s dismissal of Benn was vital from a team point of view as it illustrated clearly that this type of headstrong behaviour will not be tolerated.

Benn was not only sent off the field, but was also dropped for the next game.

He returned to the West Indian squad for the Test series against South Africa and immediately made his presence felt by taking eight wickets in the first Test match.

In the third Test in Barbados, he achieved a career best six for 81 to restrict South Africa’s lead to 115 on the third day.

As a penetrative left arm orthodox spinner, Benn is key to the success of the West Indies, but only if he’s prepared to be a team player and to bowl to the plan his coach and captain have agreed on.

Benn is not the only international cricketer whose attitude has recently been called into question. In the Australian camp there are rumblings about Shane Watson’s alleged selfish attitude.

An impressive run of form sees Watson’s career on a high at the moment, but, should his performances slip, it will be tough for him to hold his place in the Australian squad.

Unlike the West Indies, Australia has an enviable depth of players who can take his place, and in Ponting they have a captain who takes no nonsense.

The mindset of the West Indian players will not change overnight and it may still be an uphill battle for Gayle and coach Otis Gibson.

Instilling core values in a team made up of strong characters from geographically diverse islands is not easy.

Despite these challenges, Gibson and Gayle deserve to be commended for adopting a firm approach in their attempt to galvanise West Indies cricket.

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