Caribbean was at the top of world cricket for three decades, 1970s to 90s. Their pace attack and splendid batsmen are legends of all time. Kalpita analyses the steady decline of the West Indian cricket in this report.
There were times when the West Indians were at the top of world cricket. The likes of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, Wayne Daniel & Co. would strike terror down the spines of the opposition batsmen.
More so, Marshall was the shortest of the gang at 5 feet, ten inches in his boots. He would come round the wicket and maim the best with his dangerous bouncers. It was the fast bowling, which was their ace in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. For three decades their pace merchants dominated the show all around the world.
It was not only the pace, but the likes of Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kallicharan, Desmond Haynes, Roy Fredricks and Larry Gomes provided them solidity with the bat.
West Indies, has had earlier produced cricketers like Gary Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Wesley Hall and Sonny Ramadhin to emerge as a side that played the game with flamboyance. There was always a spark of excitement when the group played their cricket. Their game bordered on orthodoxy, but was effective.
But, of late the game has slid down to mediocrity in the Caribbean. The Calypso touch has withered. The side, with such a great legacy is nowadays struggling to keep its head over the water. The last great to emerge from the island nations was Brian Lara. But once the left-handed batting star retired, the stable looks depleted and lost.
The main culprit for the downwards slide has been the West Indies Cricket Board. Their office-bearers, including WICB president, Dave Cameron, have shown adamant opposition to bring about changes for the betterment of the game. He vehemently opposed the recent CARICOM (Carribean Community) governments’ move to immediately dissolve the board and a differently constituted board be set up look after the players’ grievances and solve them for upliftment of the game.
In an interview to a Guyana newspaper, he said, “Only the shareholders (the individual boards of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and the Windward Islands) can dissolve the WICB, registered as a company in the British Virgin Islands.”
Despite the evidence of the falling standards, WICB remains satisfied with the way it governs the game in a region of ten separate independent governments, united only by the game that has brought recognition to the Caribbean.
WICB has behaved like an ostrich, burying their face in the sand a storm of developments is striking at the roots of the game. The popularity of basketball, athletics and baseball in the region has snatched many an aspiring players from the game.
Hence the popularity of cricket has to be revisited in order to light the desire to bowl fast and hit the ball with tremendous power amongst the youngsters. That way WICB will have chart out innovative things that can pull back the losing charm of the game.
Also, the pull-out of the West Indies team mid-way through a series in India three years back has brought out the differences between the Board and the players into the open.
The WICB, unable to douse the fire in time, took the draconian step of banning most of the players. Though, with the World Cup in Australia last year, some sort of compromise was made. But, the non-selection of some off the stars like Dwayne Bravo in the side was like a ‘self-goal’ by the Board.
The side didn’t do that well, and recently West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted that he is ‘frustrated’ by seeing cricketers light up the Big Bash League, while Test squad battles to be competitive. Jason Holder’s young outfit failed miserably against the Australians Down Under. That happened when Andre Russell was bowling with impressive pace, Bravo hitting the bowlers all-round the park and Chris Gayle lighting up the skyline with his massive sixes and boundaries at the Big Bash.
Last month, Bravo said, “It’s frustrating to play the game…not only for me, but for others like Gayle, Sammy, Pollard and Russell.” Bravo was not picked for a Test for more than four years before he officially retired from the format in January last year.
This detachment of the players from the WICB has to be solved fast by the board. If not, then cricket in the Caribbean will keep plunging down and down to its nadir.
All pix from Net
Kalpita Mukerji is an Economics post-graduate with a love for sports. She played badminton in her school days, and teaches intellectual (special) children. Based in Lucknow, her other interests are reading and travelling.