World Cup 2019: Change your specs, Chris Gayle

West Indies’ Chris Gayle signals for a review action (Reuters)

The self-anointed Universe Boss, Chris Gayle, has been batting like a lost pauper in the tournament, his four outings producing a meagre 107 runs, though the wretched run has left his joie de vivre untouched. He has indulged the crowd with a few of his usual jigs and flashiness, sporting a variety of sunglasses. An over-size single-pieced retro visor he flashed against Bangladesh has become a smashing hit on the social media.

But the UK magazine Optician has diagnosed his experimental spree with the shades that are causing the run-drought. "Naturally, if you experiment with too many different types and colours of shades, you end up with vision problems. We advise him to not only stick to a particular type of shades but also consult an ophthalmologist. He’s 39, he should know." They even offered free eye test and an offer to become their brand ambassador. Imagine, Gayle batting like Virender Sehwag in the back-end of his career. Call him spec-tacular boss then.

At Cup, West Indies B team

With the West Indies on a free-fall after their raging start, the knives are promptly out at the selectors. The announcement of the A team that’s hosting India offered more fodder for criticism. An editorial in Barbados Today was scathing: "We think, the selectors had accidentally swapped the teams. At least a dozen of them should have been playing in England. They must have been drunk when picking the team. Seems like they have sent the B team to the World Cup." Two of the names that kept repeating were those of Roston Chase and Rakheem Cornwall, both off-spinning all-rounders. Chase was their architect in the series win over England, and Cornwall, though on the heavier side, is considered the most promising all-rounder in the Isles and has been on the selectors’ radar for a long time without getting due recognition. Moreover, amidst a bunch of rake-hell aggressors, Chase’s composed batting would have been invaluable.

Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was another name they thought should’ve been in the team list. The editorial ended sarcastically: "West Indies would have afforded to not pick a quality spinner if the selectors had persuaded Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose to drop the mic for the ball! Or maybe ask Courtney Walsh to come in disguise." A bit of nostalgia, West Indies can’t quite forego.

Lloyd’s advice: Bat like Kane

Shai Hope’s 121-ball 96 against Bangladesh drew a lot of flak from the Caribbean media. But two-time World Cup winning skipper Clive Lloyd is firmly behind him, praising him and comparing him to New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who the other day produced a masterful century. "If West Indies had won that match, Hope’s 96 would have been up there with Williamson’s century. I advise the top-order to bat like Williamson and Hope, rather than trying to hit every ball out of the ground. This is not T20," he wrote in his column for Jamaican Observer.
He also advised the seamers to embrace a more condition-specific approach. "They are trying to blast people out and I don t think they understand the English conditions. You cannot always do that here because the pitches during this competition have been batsman-friendly despite the rain. It might be green but it doesn t always fly around. Even in those days when we had Holding and Garner and all those guys, we never went all out on short ball."

A snub, a friendship

A Jamaican journalist asked Marlon Samuels who he thought the selectors should have picked. He had no hesitation in spelling out Dwayne Bravo’s name. "None of the bowlers are experienced or crafty, the cutters, slower ones, the yorkers nobody in the Caribbean, perhaps the world, as Bravo. If I had been a selector, his would have been the first name on the sheet."

Whether Bravo read it or not, he told a Trinidadian radio station that not picking Samuels was the biggest mistake the selectors made. "Marlon Samuels is a surprise. I think Marlon was there with the team throughout the playoffs (World Cup qualifiers) and in the series after the team had qualified so him being left out was a surprise to me, Bravo said in an interview on 95.5FM. Something was wrong, who knows?" he observed.

What makes their mutual support even more intriguing is that they were not the best of chums in their playing days, their antagonism flaring up during West Indies’s aborted tour of India in 2014.

Apparently, Samuels, the highest run-getter in the series, was against the abandonment while Bravo was one of its vehement supporters. Maybe, a snub is all it takes to re-forge lost friendship.

One trick ponies

World Cup-winning minds think alike. On Friday the 44th anniversary of Clive Lloyd lifting the first World Cup trophy the legendary captain, along with teammates circa 1975, termed the current iteration of the West Indies "one-dimensional".

West Indies showed their hand well in advance against Bangladesh, urging their opponents to prepare for chin music. But with Plan A failing during the match, the boy band ‘One Dimension’ or ‘1D’, if you will led by captain Jason Holder couldn’t form a Plan B. The team conceded 25 wides against Bangladesh, 21 of which were short balls gone too short. The bouncers on target were dispatched by Shakib-al Hasan and Liton Das."It would appear that they only have one way to play with no variation to their game plan, Lloyd wrote in his column. They are trying to blast people out and I don t think they understand the English conditions.

Viv Richards, speaking to The Antigua Observer, agreed with his skipper’s assessment. There didn t seem to be any planning, where if this particular plan isn t going to work, then what about plan B, plan C or whatever the case is… We are too one dimensional, Richards was quoted as saying by The Antigua Observer. "(Short-pitched bowling) worked against Pakistan, and when you re coming up against other teams, sometimes it may not work, and there just didn t seem to be any particular planning or any particular strategy or any intensity of West Indies wanting to win that match and defend that particular total.

Andy Roberts, he of terrifying bouncers, rounded up the ‘one-dimensional’ critique. You don’t just run up and bowl short. You be come one-di men sion al and the bats man will just sit back and ex pect it and then hit you away.