The news of Mushtaq Ahmed’s appointment as West Indies’ bowling coach comes right before the exciting prospect of May end’s charity T20 contest. For the next few months, the image of an experienced marksman of leg-spin will be seen around Caribbean dugouts, in midst of young cricketing talents- Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Devendra Bishoo, Ashley Nurse and the others.
West Indies and Mushtaq Ahmed’s first test will be vs Sri Lanka
The June Test series against Sri Lanka at the Caribbean will be the litmus test for both West Indies as well as their new bowling coach. This will be an exciting challenge for Devendra Bishoo, Jason Holder, Shanon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph- who will be expected to produce pressure on an equally struggling Sri Lanka.
Although Mushtaq Ahmed’s appointment at present is a short-term assignment, it could lead to a long stint with the Caribbean talents. Known for flair and penchant for big hitting, West Indies continue to struggle in the process of their cricket’s rebuilding.
Batting heavy Windies need bowlers to step up
A waning cricketing side resting heavily on the exploits of its big-hitting batsmen, West Indies seem in desperate need of picking themselves where bowling woes are concerned.
For much of the last year, the image of West Indies beating England at Headingley and Pakistan at Barbados, painted a glowing picture of a possible Caribbean resurgence. The triumphs at home and overseas conditions painted a contrasting picture in opposition to West Indies being constantly manhandled by opponents.
If not for anything, it galvanized their cricket a great deal besides brandishing their record against England, who they’d beaten in the 2014-15 Test series, in a triumph at Barbados.
Yet, the figure of their young, confident fast bowlers heavily over-stepping- as is the common narrative regardless of Tests and ODIs- dampened the pleasure the two rare Test wins garnered.
Last year, during their home series against Pakistan, West Indies gave away easy runs and conceded tons of extras. The scenario would continue when they travelled to Zimbabwe despite registering a win in Tests.
It meant that even as Jason Holder’s side had begun winning, a sporadic phenomenon evidenced even this year by a victorious run in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers, there was a lot of damage control that had to be done. And one felt the consistency was lacking and their bowlers- a new lot including Jospeh and Cummins under captain Holder- had been lacking.
The current side seems to be on crossroads
At present, the West Indies cricket finds itself at interesting crossroads. While on the one hand, it is struggling for international consistency, it is also beaming in confidence at having discovered a seemingly remarkable talent-pool in names like Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Evin Lewis and Alzarri Joseph.
The announcement of former Pakistan leg-spinner as the coach puts as much emphasis on the need to strive for discipline as it puts on a young team to go from strength to strength. The impetus stays with the dependable Barbadian captain to work cohesively with Ahmed.
Can the West Indies produce something special under Mushtaq Ahmed who’s previously assisted Pakistan team between 2016-17?