March 6, 2010

West Indies

Gimme the Windies of old

Andrew Hughes


Hey that's not Viv! © DigicelCricket.com
Brooks LaTouche Photography

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Chris Gayle walks slow but he talks fast. In fact, he gabbles like a man for whom vocalisation is a chore that gets in the way of his sitting down time. In the time it would take Ricky Ponting to drawl his opening, “Ah look,” Big Chris has already answered the question, outlined the extent of his disappointment, explained what the team are going to do to put things right, ordered his taxi back to the hotel and booked his flight to Jamaica.

So an interview with Mr Gayle is an occasion for intense concentration and possibly some lip-reading. Take this from his post match interview with Ian Bishop on Thursday.

“…intheendtherewegotofftoagoodstartahbutagainyouknowfalteredinthemiddleandyouknow crucialrunoutagainandthenyouknowsomeyouknowIdon’tknowhowtodescribethewordbutahmyou knowsometerribledisplaysofbattingdownattheendthere.”

Quite so, Chris, I agree entirely. The Bish, wearing his best studious frown pretended to understand all that and asked the West Indian captain if these last two performances had surprised him.

“…ifwe’renotgoingtolearnwe’restillgoingtogetbeatenandifwecontinuelikethisZimbabwewillbeatus fivenilaswellsoahmnoexcusetheyplayedbettercricketbutatthesametimeahmlikeIsaiditsaterrible displayandsomeimmaturecricket.”

Hmm. I think I got it, but to be on the safe side, I recorded it and played it back in super slow-mo. And I found that when I studied this verbal avalanche more closely, I could clearly identify the words “terrible” and “immature”. Now these are adjectives that do not usually feature in the post-match airtime filling chinwag. It slowly dawned on me that Captain Chris was not just flapping his gums. He was delivering a dressing-down, a tongue-lashing, what is known in Premier League circles as the hairdryer treatment. And you know what, he was absolutely right.

At 99 for 0, 125 for 1 and needing five runs with four balls to go, they really, really should have won. Instead, when this six-hour session of pass-the-initiative ended, it was the smaller contestants who were left clutching the prize. Yes, Zimbabwe were plucky, they were busy between the wickets and in Ray Price they have a bowler who is sure to have a bat brandished at him before the year is out. But West Indies really, really should have won.

Instead we have another “giant-killing” story, although, frankly it isn’t much of a fairy tale. I’m not sure the fable of David and Goliath would have caught on quite so well if the Philistine had been five-foot six with diamond-studded earrings, an iffy javelin technique and a tendency to go to pieces under pressure. I don’t want to hear about plucky little outsiders toppling West Indies, because frankly anyone can do that, indeed, anyone has.

No, the story I want to hear is of the resurgence of West Indian cricket. Now their decline has had its compensations. The Caribbean game of pinning the tail of blame on the donkey of failure has helped fill many a damp afternoon in the commentary box. There is so much mileage in it, far more than the never-fascinating Tendulkar versus Bradman squabble. We’ve heard all the reasons: baseball, football, basketball, the ill-discipline of youth, the WICB, the WIPA, Allen Stanford, aliens, global warming. There is no end to the possibilities.

And there may even be some people who are pleased that the old days are gone, the same types who spent the 1980s clutching their handbags and tut-tutting about nasty short-pitched bowling.

But so what if the occasional tourist got their nose re-shaped. Mike Gatting, for example, lost none of his boyish good looks and gained a war story to tell his grandchildren. I’m tired of watching this third-rate imitation of the West Indies. I want cricket to be like it used to be, I want to see Viv Richards lashing the ball over midwicket, not Dwayne Smith closing his eyes and missing a straight one.

So have at them, Chris and if you need any more adjectives to hurl in the dressing room, I’d be more than happy to help you out.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Neil Morrison on (April 7, 2010, 21:39 GMT)

Andrew Hughes is the Neville Cardus of today's cricket journalists, period.

nemo

Posted by Zoheb on (March 13, 2010, 20:17 GMT)

haha...great article...

Posted by Matt on (March 8, 2010, 22:14 GMT)

To be fair though, england couldn't really give a monkeys at that point, what with having just won the ashes and all..

Posted by Tim on (March 8, 2010, 14:11 GMT)

Ive been reading these stories for more than 10 years. The difference now to say 7 or 8 years ago is that finally there is some talent in the team (although very little depth - hence a few injuries will decimate their chances). The future batting is looking particularly promising. The emergence of these talented cricketers though is entirely down to luck as the WICB attempt at managing cricket in the region is laughable. The recent FC competition is a prime example - the Caribbean, weather-wise, perhaps has the most available days cricket out of all the test nations - yet the first class season lasted just 6 games, timed to coincide with an overseas tour! Bizarley (in an attempt at innovation!!!!) the games also took place in seemingly random locations meaning each nation had just one home game! Imagine Yorkshire or NSW having just one game at home each year. Windies will never reach their potential until the WICB is properly overhauled!

Posted by Dave on (March 8, 2010, 4:39 GMT)

Donald, you seem to forget that prior to beating WI 5-0, Australia had beaten Pakistan 5-0, India 4-2 in India with a second-string team, won the Champions trophy, and beaten England 6-1.They remain, as they have been for more than a decade, the unrivalled kings of one-day cricket.

Posted by Oldalbert on (March 7, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

I the 1st test series i ever watched was England vs West Indies at the age of 12 in 1991. The West Indies team then:

Simmons Haynes Richardson Hooper Richards Logie Dujon Marshall Bishop Ambrose Walsh

WI team now...... Gayle Hinds Sarwan Pollard Chanderpaul Morton Bravo Ramdin + 4 'fast' bowlers who couldnt hit the stumps if there were 6 of them! I think ive proved my point lol!

Posted by TGP on (March 7, 2010, 8:41 GMT)

I have no problem in paying them the kind of money like the other teams pay their players, but WI players must show that they can produce and compete at every level. Here is how I will structure it with some incentives included: - The bowlers would get paid for the number of dot ball bowled and wickets taken - The batters would paid for the number of runs scored and time spent at the wicket - the fielders would get paid for the runs saved and catches taken. Everyone is welcome to add to this business plan.

Posted by TGP on (March 7, 2010, 8:40 GMT)

Here is my formula for bringing back the pride in IW cricket. First I see Cricket like all other sports, it is a business and should be treated as such. In terms of management I would hire a team that has knowledge of the game and the vision of where WI cricket should be in order to bring back the integrity and respect that we once had. Clive Lloyd would be the president. I have no doubt he would appoint the right personnel in every key management position in order to produce a winning team. The players must see this as their jobs and must show some seriousness about it. Yes I know the game has changed but the fundamental aspect forever remains; that is discipline and mental toughness. "Like Gayle showed today in the 2nd ODI – I need that kind of consistency from the skipper"

Posted by nicolette francis on (March 7, 2010, 6:12 GMT)

Congrats Chris today's effort was great, Narsingh u lived up to what was expected of you for a while now but let me say something about that game thursday i went to my DR friday morning he said i was suffering from ACUTESTRESS, i said DR i have no problem, he asked are u sure ? ,i said yes but i was watching WI lost to zimbabwe he said well i think that's it , so i leave my DR office and went to my lawyer's office to file a suit against WI Selectors,Captain his troops.

Posted by Praveen on (March 7, 2010, 5:52 GMT)

You are right. It is pathetic watching WI Team these days. When I started following cricket (1978), WI was on getting to the Top of the world. I remember pleading with my Dad to take me to Cricket Match(I think that was early 80's). Why? Well Greenidge, Haynes, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Logie, Dujon, Holding, Marshall, Roberts, Garner.... Amazing group of gutsy players. What could be better for a cricket crazy youngster? Right now we just don't see the passion to win. Brian Lara struggled with mediocre Team for a decade.

I don't know whether Windies can ever come back. But yes is they do I will support them proudly. I am still a fan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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