Jerome Taylor was a lone warrior with the ball in Kingston © Getty Images
Jerome Taylor was a lone warrior with the ball in Kingston © Getty Images

West Indies succumbed embarrassingly to Australia in The Frank Worrell Trophy 2015, forcing a fearful conclusion of a correlation with deep-set problems in their cricket. Abhishek Mukherjee has more.

Evenness in quality in two participants in a contest gives a hard edge to it, and a wide gulf leads to frustration and indifference. It hurts to watch West Indies keeping falling down, but it is tough to imagine them scything through the stagnation they have encountered in the last two decades. For a while, the signs that they began their path towards competence filled the heart with warmth, but against Australia, all that was washed away with a series loss so telling that it gave a sense of fear and distress. READ: West Indies need serious introspection after horror series against Australia

Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo and Jason Holder — two bowlers and an all-rounder — protected the dimly-lit West Indian candle from being extinguished sooner and with more force, but the barrenness of the rest killed the two-Test challenge within seven days. The key principles of these three performers were simple: discipline in lines and lengths, keeping up of morale in face of stern examination, and taking responsibility for the team.

Their major impact took shape in three small phases in those seven days: Taylor’s six-wicket haul in Australia’s first innings in Jamaica, in a frugal spell that had his first six overs bowled maidens; Bishoo’s arty leg spin in Australia’s first innings in Dominica, also in a six-wicket haul, which had Brad Haddin being bowled in a manner invoking gasps from anyone who watched it; and Holder, who kept his bowling tight for the most part of the two Tests and played an astonishing ­— in the context of the game — and in some ways outrageous knock of unbeaten 82 in the first innings of the second Test.

The weirdness of that phase of dominating Australian bowling was due to the inability of any other West Indies’ top-order or lower-order batsman to negotiate. Holder used his crease nicely to launch his lofted drives, pulls, and flashy strokes square on the off side. Mitchell Starc’s consigned expression as he sent another ball to the fence spoke of Australia’s helplessness to slow his hitting. But when Holder was on 82, Nathan Lyon dismissed Kemar Roach, his stolid partner at the other end, and Taylor, the No.11, who lasted one ball.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s omission may have been a forward step, and his form may have been poor, but his absence was certainly felt in the series. Only Shai Hope shone briefly in a batting line-up now headed by Marlon Samuels and the always-promising-but-never-fulfilling Darren Bravo. As in the England series, Bravo kept repeating his indecisiveness in his footwork to keep nicking balls outside off stump. The batting was so mediocre that their highest total in any innings of the series was 220. READ: Denesh Ramdin laments poor batting performance of West Indies against Australia

If their three Tests against England had their batsmen failing to stick around the one who held fort for most of the innings, these outings against Australia consigned them to succumbing outright. Josh Hazlewood, Starc and Mitchell Johnson used their angles of delivery well, bowled with lots of pace, used reverse-swing and the short ball potently to demolish their opponents. At Sabina Park, all bowlers looked like picking up wickets almost every other delivery. Off spinner Lyon bowled with patience, and reaped rewards of the consistent pressure employed by a combined attack. Michael Clarke had planned to use the approach of all-out attack to ensure West Indies weren’t let off the hook; that it worked well would be an understatement.

A scribe, after the first Test, had described the apparent lack of skills-set as West Indies’ ‘poverty’. It seems to be exactly that, and in the current generation of rising inequality in world’s cricket, their rise would have to ensure efforts they swim against the tide. The problems surrounding payments to their international players, the inevitable attraction by the magnet of domestic Twenty20 leagues, and the apathy of the world order of the game are only some broader issues implying danger. Their position in international scheduling hardly allows for their hoped rise.

It goes deeper: the lack of international-standard fitness in their rising domestic players and the quality of pitches, as pointed out by former fast bowler Andy Roberts eat away at the prospects of a sustainable spot among the top half of the rankings table. The senior team, at least, are getting the mentoring and guidance of coach Phil Simmons and bowling consultant Curtly Ambrose, but if the foundations of a building are not strong, the whole construction is in danger of collapsing. READ: West Indies vs Australia 2015: Brendon Julian’s horrible gaffe

A two-Test series can have contrasting effects: it can reduce the impact of difference in quality between the teams, as sustenance of excellence is not tested comprehensively, but by the same token, it can also make the gulf larger by killing the contest in little time. This is what happened to West Indies in the short Frank Worrell Trophy 2015 – an event perhaps only appropriately pronounced wrongly by the television presenter Brendan Julian while conducting the post-series presentation, because it did not feel like a contest of that stature.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @bhejafryyy)