West Indies coach Stuart Law came down hard on his team after they listlessly crumbled to a 204-run defeat against New Zealand in the second ODI in Christchurch on Saturday. It was West Indies' 15th defeat in 21 ODIs this year, and the 121 they managed in a chase of 326 is their lowest total in 2017.
"As I said to them before they left [the ground], words are cheap. We've got to see actions now," Law was quoted as saying by Stuff.co.nz. "There's so much talent in this squad. I don't think what we saw in the first two games is a fair indication of how well these guys can play."
At one stage, West Indies actually seemed to be in control of the match, having brought New Zealand down to 186 for 5. But from there, Henry Nicholls and Todd Astle flattened them with a sixth-wicket stand of 130 runs in 98 balls. Trent Boult then ripped through their batting order with a career-best 7 for 34 that sent them packing in 28 overs.
It is these sort of performances that made West Indies miss out on an appearance in the Champions Trophy in England earlier this year, which was contested between the top eight teams in the world. West Indies have also lost out on a direct entry into the 2019 World Cup and now have to go through the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe next year.
"We need to settle on a group of players to take us forward," Law said. "The earlier we can come up with those names [for the World Cup qualifier] and come up with a plan for those guys leading up to that tournament [the better]."
More immediately, one prospect that could possibly fetch them better results in the third and final ODI of the current series in Christchurch on Tuesday is the likely return of Chris Gayle. The opening batsman has been in imperious form of late, smashing a record 18 sixes in a T20 innings in the final of the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League that gave his side Rangpur Riders the title.
Gayle, however, hasn't played much of a role in the current series. He struck 22 in the first ODI but did not take the field during the New Zealand chase. He also missed the second match due to illness. But Law suggested that the left-hander was progressing well. "Fingers crossed he should be right for the next one. I saw him [on Sunday morning] at breakfast and he seemed to have a little bit more life about him. It's moving in the right direction."
While Law was all for West Indies' attacking brand of cricket, he impelled them to exercise caution and better discretion. "People talk about poor execution, but if it's the same dismissal over and over again, it rivals lunacy," he said.
"The batters know they made mistakes and we're far better than what we showed. Hitting balls into the wind, it's not very smart, particularly when we spoke about it leading into the game. We were trying to get 300 in 25 overs, when we had 50 overs to get it.
"Our guys want to be positive and play an attractive brand, but you can't be reckless with it. You've got to be smart in the way you go about it."