A few years ago Darren Sammy said that everyone’s second favorite team apart from their country is West Indies. And it is pretty evident from the fact that people all around the world love their cricket team.
But we here in India admire them the most than anyone. They celebrate while they play. Fact. They laugh, fall down, jiggle, roll up the sleeves, never sledge, and occasionally mock themselves too.
Yet, for the longest possible time, we hear something that’s taking far too long a period to come true.
“World cricket needs a strong West Indies team.”
But their transition period never seems to end. It’s a long, tardy wait. And it can be said this long wait has seen us celebrate several birthdays, our kids grow into adults, our partners opting for graceful bags vis-à-vis sling bags and us, wearing shirts finely tucked in, instead of sleeves and collars rolled up.
Heck, even the Prince ‘Lara’ has reached a half-century in aging. Yet, the West Indian turnaround in its full wake is yet to occur.
A case in point. Their recent loss against Bangladesh in a crucial game was so depressing for their legions of fans that they have again started to doubt their mental strength needed for the tough game of cricket.
Talent, you can see for yourself is still there. But for some reason, it never truly manifests itself. Where are your partnerships, West Indies? Where are things like applying yourself against spin, bowling economical overs?
Dear Jason, can you respond?
Despite the talk of other sports taking over cricket in the Caribbean, one feels talent alone won’t do the job for them.
As a die-hard fan, someone who’s seen Brian bat in his pomp, Chanderpaul save the day many times, Walsh and Ambrose walking into the sunset and the rise of Gayle-Storm- one reckons, what the West Indies lack is killer instinct.
Moreover, what the West Indies lack is that ability to withstand the pressure when things aren’t going their way. We didn’t see any match-turning wickets when Bangladesh made that big run chase- hell, 322 wasn’t an easy score- look easy.
Where were the slower balls? Where were the pitch-perfect yorkers of the kinds that Ferguson bowled Faf the other night with?
Yet, almost miraculously, each time, the fan is about to absolutely give up on the West Indies, they dance with a package of sudden surprise.
There was a sign of little resurgence in their game during the series against early this year but you got to be consistent enough at home and away to prove your mettle in this demanding world of sport. When you see like of Pooran, Hope, and Heitmeyer playing audacious strokes against best of bowlers you feel that future of Windies cricket is bright but their prodigious talent will be fulfilled if they learn from their mistakes and working on their game and fitness to become a consistent cricketer.
Windies started brilliantly against Pakistan. The way they made light work of a side having Fakhar, Babar, Amir and company were enviable. Even the likes of Finch and Kohli complimented them.
But yet again, they faltered away and now their chances of reaching the top four look very bleak. Unless, of course, this great game of surprises takes us and the West Indies by a happy surprise.
Cricket fans from the Caribbean and other parts of the world say that some stalwarts like DJ Bravo, Pollard and Narine should have been in the team and I agree to a certain extent that, that is fair.
But to be honest we must agree to the fact that even when we had those guys in the team we weren’t winning consistently in ODI cricket. Were we? Remember the way Pakistan tore West Indies down in 2013-14 in the Caribbean?
Of course, the Windies in full strength won two T-20 world cups, but ODI Cricket is totally a different thing where you need the patience to weather the storm in case you lose early wickets. Plenty of dot balls can be seen in every innings as they struggle to rotate strikes.
Even their best all-weather man- Shai Hope- has now warmed up to this shortcoming.
They just want to hit out of their trouble rather than applying themselves to accumulate runs. Do you see the best men in business go down this way? Did Shikhar and Rohit do this against Australia? What might have happened to New Zealand had Kane Williamson resorted to hitting instead of weathering the storm vs the Proteas?
Batting looks good despite the ultra-aggressive style but bowling is still a concern as no one is capable of running through the opposition. It lacks variety as we are yet to find a quality spinner. Having quality players will always help a team to do well but more than the skill it’s the discipline, dedication and that never say die attitude from the players is needed to win big games.
They had a great history and have given so many great entertainers the game has ever seen. No harm in losing. It happens to the best all the time. It happened to England, who were untouchable until Sri Lanka ran into them last night.
But what pains us the way they capitulate time and again and it’s a high time they should understand the importance of donning the maroon cap.