Once upon a time, not so long ago, 1976 to 1995 to be exact, the West Indies ruled the world unchallenged as the best cricket team in the world, and between 2008 and 2012, Jamaica dominated West Indies cricket as undisputed champions of the region. For the West Indies, it was 19 years at the top, losing only once to New Zealand in New Zealand, and for Jamaica, it was five years in control. Although nothing lasts forever, today, however, both teams are unrecognisable. The West Indies have lost so many times that it has become the norm, while Jamaica, despite saving their skin with a thrilling victory last week, are being beaten left, right, and centre. It has reached a stage where, in terms of poor performances, one is not sure who is first and who is second, whether it is the West Indies first and Jamaica second or vice-versa. As bad as the West Indies have been playing, and as poor as their cricket is, or may be, if you were at Sabina Park last Sunday and you were a betting man, you would have bet your bottom dollar that Jamaica’s cricket, its batting in particular, was worse than that of the West Indies, and by a long way. As one man sitting in the north stand lamented, loud and clear for all to hear, “Oonu worse than the West Indies.” It was the second round of the West Indies franchise cricket, and going into the third day, the scores were Jamaica Scorpions 259 and five without loss, the Windward Islands Volcanoes 212. The day promised a lot. But for the empty stands, Sabina Park looked good. Ten to 20 spectators were on hand to witness some good cricket. As the lone spectator upstairs the club stand, I was hoping that captain Paul Palmer Jr and Brandon King, especially, would get some runs and that we would have a nice day’s play as a prelude to what promised to be a last day filled with reasonably good cricket and excitement. WALTON MISSING IN ACTION I had asked it on the first day, but as the wickets tumbled at Sabina Park last Sunday, I asked the question again, where was Chadwick Walton? In the last year, he played a few matches for Jamaica and did well with the bat. He represented the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Professional League, and he toured South Africa with the West Indies team. He plays cricket in Barbados, but he is a Jamaican and in the Jamaica squad. Even if he could not get into the team as a wicketkeeper, he certainly could make it as a batsman. Without even remembering Sunday’s performances, even though, sadly, I will remember it for a long, long time, Walton must be numbered among Jamaica’s best batsmen. At least he certainly bats with confidence. With fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell still out due to injury, the selectors responded immediately to the performance on Sunday. Apart from bringing back Tamar Lambert, and probably also embarrassed by the batting, they dropped King, surprisingly, and they also dropped Baugh, which means that Walton will be in against Trinidad and Tobago. POOR BATTING What transpired early in the morning was unbelievable – or almost so. It demonstrated how poor Jamaica’s batting is and possibly the need for more practice by the country’s batsmen; more and better coaches in general; the need for a big and regular competition and for a better structured and well-organised competition, which will pit the best against the best in competition, which will then develop good players. In 42 minutes after the start of the day’s play, in 12.1 overs of spin from Shane Shillingford and pace from Marvin Matthew, Jamaica Scorpions lost seven wickets for 20 runs. In fact, all seven wickets tumbled before the water cart first appeared on the field It was truly embarrassing. It was really a procession from and back to the pavilion. It was, for most of them, like batting without a bat in their hands. They appeared timid and afraid. It seemed as if the bowlers were bowling hand grenades at them instead of a cricket ball. They fell, the five top Scorpion batsmen, one behind the other in order: John Campbell, caught by the wicketkeeper; Palmer, leg before wicket; Kirk Edwards, caught at slip; AndrÈ McCarthy, caught by the wicketkeeper; and King, caught at silly-point. Carlton Baugh Jr and David Bernard Jr were the other two batsmen to fall, and they all died without throwing a punch in anger, all except Baugh, who, after playing and missing, drove wildly and edged Matthew to the wicketkeeper; and King, who, after blocking a few deliveries, lost his cool, ran down the wicket to Shillingford, checked himself, and hastily tapped a catch to silly-point. It was really embarrassing! Thanks to Nikita Miller and Damion Jacobs, who, aided by the generosity of the Windward Islands’ fielders, posted an eight-wicket partnership of 76 runs and carried Jamaica to some sort of respectability and on to victory by the day’s end. As a Jamaican, the result was good. It was, however, a bitter-sweet victory with the memory of Jamaica’s batting on a relatively good pitch haunting me ever since. It was not just poor batting, and it was not just the score. It was simply bad batting, with nobody seemingly knowing what to do. With some decent fielding by the Windward Islands, Jamaica may have been dismissed just after the first water cart and long before lunch. The batting of the Windward Islands was only a little better than Jamaica’s early on Sunday. It was more like that of the West Indies.