In the last two years West Indies cricket has gone backwards…
In the Test arena, just about every match involving the Calypso Kids has resulted in a loss from positions of dominance, most recently displayed during the tour of England. But why? There is no doubting that West Indies cricket is far from the ferocious force that dominated the world stage for two decades. West Indies cricket seems to have lost passion, direction and identity. Unlike the calypso teams of the 70s and 80s, there seems to be a distinct lack of a burning desire to win in contemporary players. Everyone remembers how aggressive West Indian teams used to be, losing was not an option. Whether inspired by the end of a Jamaican blunt, in the lyrics of Bob Marley, or the aggressive style of cricket instilled in the team by the charismatic Clive Lloyd, the West Indies cricket put together a team of champions unrivaled in world cricket.
A great documentary about the era is Fire in Bablyon (below).
Bring it forward to 2012, the last decade has not been easy.
Since the retirement of greats such as Curly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara, Windies Indies cricket has lost its spark. Not for lack of talent, internal politics has at times intervened. The well publicised spat between the Calypso Crippler Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board drew a line between an international players’ commitment to national duties, and a mercenaries lust for money. Since Gayles’ departure there has been little stability at the top of the order with an endless procession of promising first class talent either not cut out for the pressure of international cricket, or lacking discipline to take their game to the next level. Senior players such as the rock-solid Shivnarine Chanderpaul have shouldered this extra responsibility with honour, but at times allowed the poor performances of West Indies cricket to go under the radar.
Let me put it to you this way, if the West Indies had their shit together there is no reason why they couldn’t be the 5th ranked Test team in the world after England, South Africa, Australia and India. On their day, they could beat any team in the world.
Here is my synopsis of the State of Play in West Indian cricket, starting at the top with captain Darren Sammy.
Darren Sammy – “The Godfather”
Sammy is the sort of guy you would love to have at your local cricket club. He is tall, honest, well spoken and hits the spot 9 times out of 10 without bumping up insurance premiums. I really like Sammy, everyone does. But not everyone is convinced that the perennial best clubman makes the cut in the West Indies Test first eleven. For lack of better options, he qualifies. A full strength West Indies cricket side may think better of it.
Chris Gayle – “The Predator”
So I am getting ahead of myself a bit here, Chris Gayle is NOT in the Test team as yet – but will be soon *touch wood*. Gayle is no doubt a mutant, super-freak from planet Magic Puff, sent to earth with a mission to dispatch as many cricket balls back into orbit as possible. The Predator, also known as the Calypso Crippler, would not be out of place with a necklace of shrunken bowler’s heads adorning his massive frame. If he wasn’t so busy signing deals with world power brokers at the IPL, his place in the West Indian top order could make all the difference to a batting line up which relies too much on the likes of Chanderpaul.
Sunil Narine – “The Riddler”
Not since Ajantha Mendis stormed onto the scene against India has there been so much talk about an off-spinner. What looks like a rather unassuming bowling action is the ideal foil for an arsenal of variations which have left the most experienced international batsmen reeling like Rex Hunt in a red light district. It is unlikely we will see Narine in the Test squad any time soon, according to some pundits, if ever. With the lure of a limited overs Boon-anza each year and relative inexperience at first-class level, there is little need for Sunil to plough away his trade during 5 day scorchers.
Here’s a bo-peep if you haven’t seen him already.
To be continued….
Shivnarine Chanderpaul – How long can he keep going?
Kieron Pollard – Too cool for the international school?
Andre Russell – Star in the making.
Dwayne Bravo – The forgotten Bravo has plenty left to offer.