With most of the West Indies players playing in the ongoing CLT20, it will be a young side that will leave the British Isles en route to Bangladesh © Getty Images
With most of the West Indies players playing in the ongoing CLT20, it will be a young side that will leave the British Isles en route to Bangladesh © Getty Images


By Rohan Kallicharan


Whilst Sachin Tendulkar gets a well deserved — although forced — rest, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir plod on through another month of cricket in the Champions Trophy T20 before England arrive for a pointless One-Day International series, prior to India’s much-anticipated visit to Australia.


Whilst I have often been critical of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the fact remains that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is equally to be blamed for some of the crazy scheduling in the modern game. Even the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are not immune, with their financial commitments to Sky Television, resulting in last weekend’s tour of England by the West Indies, a tour that lasted precisely 48 hours and 71.4 overs. To describe the international circuit as a circus would not be too far wrong at this particular moment.


With the West Indies in mind, it is a young side that will leave the British Isles en route to Bangladesh. As is the modern trend, there will be a very different ODI and T20 Squad to that for the Test matches. From a squad of 15 for the ODIs, only nine will remain for the Test series.


The notable absentees from both squads are Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo. It’s ironic that they are currently waltzing around India in the Champions League, but not as part of the squad from the West Indies — Trinidad and Tobago — proof, perhaps, that it is not only India that is falling foul of the IPL and Champions League.


In the not too distant past, had someone described a series between West Indies and Bangladesh as a watershed series for both sides, it would have preceded a visit from the men in white coats, and I mean something slightly more sinister than the umpires! However, that is exactly what this series is for both sides.


Winning is a habit, and it is one that is foreign to both of these sides, who sit seventh and ninth respectively in the ICC Test rankings. Despite the undoubted talent of some of the Bangladeshis, they have simply failed to establish themselves at top level, and have gone through an alarming number of captains in the process. Against a West Indies side ranked two places above them, but increasingly feeble on their travels, this is a series that Bangladesh must see as one that they can win in home conditions.


In Stuart Law, they have a much more abrasive coach than the affable Jamie Siddons, and he will pull no punches with his players as they look to improve upon a dismal record of three victories in 69 Tests, two of which were against a West Indian side depleted by the players’ strike of 2009.


The West Indies will know that they have to put the record straight or risk being labelled as an even bigger comedy act than they already are in some circles. The worrying aspect is that they have hardly been short of talent in recent years, but the discipline and leadership has been nothing short of woeful. You would suspect that the aforementioned Mr Law would certainly not have stood for some of the prima donnas that have for so long shamed the reputation of West Indian cricket.


Darren Sammy has been much maligned, but his profile as a leader is growing, and it is absolutely vital for Ottis Gibson and his men that they win this series. Failure to do so would be absolutely diabolical, and an addition to the list of atrocities committed by recent West Indian teams overseas.


On paper, they should win the series, but will have to be wary of the ability of Tamim Iqbal in particular at the top of the order, whilst the younger batsmen will have to display intelligence and most importantly patience against the home spinners.


They will have to show patience and discipline in the bowling department, with an attack based around the quickies likely to encounter slow, spin friendly pitches. It should be an excellent learning experience for the likes of Kemar Roach who excelled on the subcontinent earlier this year during the World Cup, and he will look to the experienced Fidel Edwards for leadership. Edwards has been blighted by injury and inconsistency over the years, making more comebacks than Frank Sinatra, and one feels that this will be his last opportunity to do justice to undoubted natural ability.


It is an absolutely pivotal series for both sides, and although I suspect it will be closer than many might imagine, I have to hope and suspect that the West Indies will take the spoils.


As we wait, the Champions League will rumble on, watched by ever-decreasing attendances. Even in India, a country where the game is a religion, there is a limit to the money that people can and will pay to watch the same spectacle played out on a daily basis.


Indian fans may justifiably wish for an early exit for the teams from Chennai and Kolkata, not to mention a side selected against England for the ODI series which reflects the importance of the tour to Australia.


Time will tell, but the international circus is about to move into full gear for a fascinating English winter ahead.


(Rohan Kallicharan, son of the legendary batsman Alvin Kallicharan, is a West Indian cricket enthusiast based in the UK who played at under-19 level. He is now a Recruitment Professional who writes about the game in his free time. He is a columnist for All Out Cricket Magazine. He also has own sports. hetoreahamstring.co.uk)