Alzarri Joseph can be the one for future © AFP
Alzarri Joseph can be the one for future © AFP

A four-Test series promises 20 days of cricket unless there are bad weather interruptions or any of the competing teams fail to surive, resulting in matches ending earlier than expected. In the ongoing India versus West Indies Test series, if the fourth day of the second Test can be considered washed out (with play being possible for only 15.5 overs), the hosts have truly competed for only one day. The fifth day of the Jamaica Test has so far been the only instance when West Indies contested and displayed resilience, as the series has been not much different than one-way traffic, with India ruling the roost right from the beginning. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 3rd Test at Colombo

Let alone winning, West Indies were not even expected to draw the four-Test series against India, even at home. As the teams gear up for the fourth and final Test at the Port of Spain, West Indies will once again be expected to draw some amount of confidence from the fifth-day fightback, which they staged at Jamaica. ALSO READ: 5 Indian cricketers to watch out

But then, it was largely due to 1 out of their 11 players, who helped West Indies force a draw. Roston Chase showcased his talent at the international arena for the first time, taking a record five-wicket haul and striking a gritty century on the last day. But then, did his innings not highlight the age-old West Indies’ ailment in Test cricket of inconsistency?

In an era where even the top teams maintain a clean record at least at home, West Indies struggle to win even in the familiar conditions. If a team cannot win at home, poor skills, lack of intent and inexperience come to fore. For West Indies, all this happened long ago. What is left now is nothing but the same lame investigation of their prowess — whatever of it is left — before the start of any series.

Going into the final Test against India, West Indies cannot expect to win, but surely, given the fact that they have sporadically turned up with quality performances, they can make India’s life difficult. Kraigg Brathwaite has been in good form, and Darren Bravo showed some glimpse in the third Test at St Lucia. However, the bowling attack will have to do the job for their side as stopping the Indian batsmen will be the key for West Indies to put up a good show, something which they have failed to do so in the past few games.

West Indies manager Joel Garner and captain Jason Holder have tried defining as to why the Caribbean team finds itself inferior to their opponents. While Garner’s assessment stands spot on, which is on the lines of application and doggedness, Holder’s logic that there is a huge chasm between international area and the First-Class cricket in the Caribbean does not look alright. Australia, for that matter, have a world-class domestic cricket setup, but their fortunes in Test cricket have been swinging back and forth like no one else’s.

First of all, there has to be an end to the internal bickering in West Indies cricket that has been around for close to a decade. If the selectors wish to look into the future and forget the men, who can still win them Tests, they will have to give a long rope to the young blood and at the same time, keep a sharp eye on their progress and overall development.

But, at the same time, selections like that of Rajendra Chandrika, who played the first two Tests ahead of the in-form and more deserving Leon Johnson and Shai Hope, does not contribute in any capacity. Chandrika continued to bat like a novice despite given ample amount of chances, and thus his exclusion in the third Test was certainly a decision taken in the team’s benefit.

For West Indies to make any sort of impression, massive deal of planning and execution is required. To ensure everything remains according to the plan, West Indies also need an enforcer, which they may not have in Holder. There are no doubts over Holder’s credentials as a Test cricketer, but as the captain of a team that has indiscipline deeply seeped into its members, West Indies need a strong character who can also lead by example. Holder, in this case, is a decent batsman as well as a bowler but never a game-changer.

West Indies have a long journey back to the top, in case they wish to endeavour on the tough path, where even the best keep floundering. But the fourth Test against an opponent with high quality such as India, the hosts do have a golden opportunity to embark on their journey.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)