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Finally A New Dawn For The West Indies?
Ignoring the controversy surrounding India’s decision to call off the Test match needing 86 runs from 90 balls was the improvement of their counterparts. Since their 2-1 defeat against Australia in 1995, the West Indies have suffered a dramatic decline from their position at the top of cricket. Players such as Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall and Sir Viv Richards (to name a few) retired during the 5 years which destroyed the young side for a long time.
But are we now about to witness a resurgence in one of the most exciting sides, in history, in international cricket?
First, here’s a comparison of West Indies’ performance in the Test series before and after their win over Australia:
1980-1994: Played 29, Won 20, Drawn 9, Lost 0
1995-Present: Played 50, Won 13, Drawn 7, Lost 30
NOTE: just looking at these stats shows what the West Indies team was like in the 80s and early 90s. The future story would be to compare them with the actions of the Australian team that took away the mantle of ‘world’s greatest cricket’ from them.
Now, let’s review the performance of the West Indies final side:
1995-2003: Played 25, Won 10, Drawn 2, Lost 13
2004-Present: Played 25, Won 3, Drawn 5, Lost 17
When you consider that those three wins came against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and an England side still in danger under Pietersen-Moores and it adds up to a stunning collapse for cricket’s biggest nation.
This difficult period for the Windies includes whitewashes in South Africa, Australia and England and the humiliation of a 2-0 home defeat to Bangladesh in 2009.
However, shoots of life have suddenly sprouted from the side under Darren Sammy’s captaincy boasting a number of exciting young talents to join some of the experienced campaigners. Of course, we have been on this road with the West Indies. Who can forget Dwayne Smith’s 93-ball hundred in the first Test against South Africa. One of the most naturally gifted batsmen in terms of spotting and hitting the ball, Smith averaged 16.22 in 77 ODIs for the West Indies.
NOTE: In comparison, in 201 ODIs Brett Lee has scored 16.25 runs to go with his 349 wickets. I know who I would prefer to have in my side.
Even now we are still treated to the entertaining innings of Kieron Pollard – the man who four IPL franchises felt they had to pay $750,000 for (for cricket or marketing reasons I wonder?). However, Pollard has so far made 4 50s in 42 ODIs and has a T20 average of 12.33. There are no more things that keep runners up at night.
But now, the Windies have brought in a lot of youngsters who have started working for them instead of saving their place in the team for their potential. Among them is Darren Bravo, the brother of the team Dwayne, who has been compared to someone who is not older than the great Brian Lara (perhaps, his second cousin). For a left-handed batsman who plays like a Trinidadian legend, it is high praise considering his failure to reach a century in Tests or ODIs. Furthermore, one only needs to look at the number of Brazilian and Argentinian footballers who have been referred to as the next Pele or Maradona to see the problems that can cause the young man. However, an average of 40 with 33 appearances is an encouraging start for the 22-year-old who still has time on his side.
Kemar Roach is one who was drafted into the team at the age of 19 and impressed the opposition. Capable of bowling at 93mph, Roach made his international debut in a T20 match against Australia in 2008 after just four first-class matches. Finishing with excellent figures of 2/29 shows his immense potential. Currently, Roach is under 30 with the ball in all forms of cricket. Most impressively, he led the Windies’ destruction of Australia in 2009, being hailed by Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell as a star of the future. Roach was also man of the match the following year in Sri Lanka – a country known for providing slow pitches and unhelpful dust for fast bowlers. A hat-trick against the Netherlands in this year’s World Cup helped him become the winner of the 6/27 match.
Devendra Bishoo and Kirk Edwards have both recently become regulars in both formats. Bishoo. a leg-spinner, he has impressed many with his attacking style and has emerged as one of Windies’ leading wicket-takers. What’s even more interesting is his post-game discussion! Edwards recently scored 110 against India in his test match to help him draw the match: showing determination and courage in his innings.
Add to that experienced young players like Shivnarine Chanderpaul (who, at 36, is still going strong judging by his recent years against India), Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan and there is a great group of players to bring a new start to the Caribbean.
Despite this, questions continue to surround the group. The controversy surrounding the long-running feud between former captain Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board has long overshadowed his recent achievements (a summary can be found here). Indeed, this saga reflects the lack of professionalism that still exists within the Windies management which is still reeling from the 2009 salary disputes.
Additionally, there are questions about the captaincy of Darren Sammy in the side. The skipper has failed to explain that he has been selected as the fielder who is preventing Kemar Roach from playing the ball properly. However, a recent interview with CricInfo revealed Sammy’s determination to promote professional culture, fitness and exposure of young talent to improve his team.
Sammy has stated that his aim was to reach the top 5 with the West Indies by 2015. After years of only choosing their best player to be manager, perhaps the English way of prioritizing leadership skills over talent (Hussain, Atherton, Vaughan and Cook .in ODIs) may be right in pointing this proud cricketing nation in the right direction.
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