Carlos Brathwaite scored a brilliant World Cup century against New Zealand but the West Indies lost by five runsCarlos Brathwaite scored a brilliant World Cup century against New Zealand but the West Indies lost by five runs (AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) - The West Indies started their World Cup campaign in style, blowing Pakistan away to revive memories of their glory days of swashbuckling batting and fearsome fast bowling.
But, six games in, it is a familiar tale of what-ifs as the two-time former champions contemplate another failed campaign dogged by their old foe -- inconsistency.
Carlos Brathwaite on Saturday exemplified West Indies' fighting spirit and impressive reserves of talent, smashing a breathtaking century to take his side agonisingly close to victory against New Zealand at Old Trafford.
But instead of completing an unlikely and glorious win, Jason Holder's team lost by five runs, effectively ending their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the 50-over event.
It is a familiar scenario for West Indies sides and former paceman Ian Bishop believes the lack of time the team's core group spends together is one reason for their below-par showing in England and Wales.
"Obviously they are a talented team," Bishop told AFP. "They haven't been together for a long time, unlike teams like England, New Zealand and India, who have had a core group for a long time.
"This team hasn't had that for different reasons, whether it's injury or guys going to different leagues, which is understandable. So I think that has hindered preparation."
West Indies cricket went through huge upheavals after the team cut short their tour of India in 2014 due to a payment dispute between the players and the board.
Dwayne Bravo was sacked as one-day international captain and Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy were sidelined.
The enormously talented and charismatic Chris Gayle subsequently became a "gun for hire", playing in leagues all around the world as coaches came and went.
Bishop said the changing support staff had not helped team-building -- Floyd Reifer was appointed interim head coach after the sacking of Richard Pybus in April.
A change in guard at Cricket West Indies saw Ricky Skerritt succeed controversial predecessor Dave Cameron as president in March.
"There have been changes in the selection panel and things like that -- change in coaches, so different philosophies have evolved over the last three or four years," said Bishop, who also called for a shake-up in Caribbean domestic cricket.
"It's not just these guys, -- West Indies cricket has struggled for a fair while now in different formats at different times. In Twenty20 they are kings of the world. Some credit needs to be given there."
- 'No pressure' -
The West Indies witnessed an upturn in fortunes on the pitch with a shock 2-1 Test series win over England and 2-2 ODI series draw earlier this year.
But the stark truth is that the former undisputed kings of world cricket under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards have not won an ODI series since 2014.
Remind Holder, who has been captain since 2015, of West Indies' rich legacy and the pressure it might put on the present side and he smilingly says "no pressure".
"We need to be a little bit more consistent in what we're doing," he said after the heartbreaking loss to New Zealand at Old Trafford. "But as I said before, we're really, really proud of the way the guys fought."
West Indies, world champions in 1975 and 1979, started the World Cup with a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Pakistan only to lose steam, with defeats to Australia, England and Bangladesh.
But they can take heart from good individual batting performances from Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope and Brathwaite.
Pacemen Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell have also impressed with their pace and swing in English conditions and Bishop is more than happy with the talent on tap, saying many of the players are relatively inexperienced.
"So again it goes back to how much experience some of these guys have in this format. You look around, how much India have, how much England have had," he said.
"How much Australia have had with players such as Mitchell Starc, who is a World Cup winner. So it's an experience thing but domestically more needs to be done to support the players."