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From Ryon S. Cupidore, West Indies
I am a West Indian.
I have grown up with stories of some of the best men to ever play the game of cricket, embellishments doing no justice to the real thing. I have heard and read of the famous victories and series of years gone by. I have spent many an hour online reliving some of those moments through streaming video.
I have watched Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose make the best batsmen in the world look like schoolboys. I have seen Brian Lara make fielding captains chew their nails down to nothing. I have seen Shivnarine Chanderpaul frustrate bowlers into the ground.
I have also been through contract disputes. I have suffered through several humiliating losses to lower-ranked teams. I have been witness to some of the most spectacular batting collapses in cricketing history from undefeatable positions.
But I am still, a West Indian.
And I am not one to live in the past. Yet its legacy, especially that of recent times, forces me to jump for joy at any victory, even if it is one with the series long decided. One match matters little to the opposition, but it means the world to be. Such is the life of one who wishes for the glory days once again. I am drowning and snatching at straws, some might say.
But what reason is there for any other reaction? There has never been a time in recent memory when the players and the board agree on anything. It goes back to the old Cable and Wireless days and the relationship has hardly been satisfactory. The current state is as such, with Chris Gayle’s future seemingly heading towards freelance T20 work. I fear that he might not be the last such player from the region with such an outlook. Jerome Taylor may yet go in that direction. Yet the team, my team, seems to be playing good cricket, at least more consistently than years gone by.
The Indian ODI series may be over, but there were flashes and patches of brilliance, as always. Players caught the imagination and good performances were there to behold. Andre Russell’s blistering 92, Darren Bravo’s shift from first into fourth gear, Anthony Martin’s accurate bowling and livewire fielding. There may be a lot of complaints about Darren Sammy as captain, but the fact is that the team has played good basic cricket with him at the head and there has been some success recently.
I must be crazy to say that. Two lost ODI series and a less-than-spectacular exit from the World Cup is hardly what anyone would call success. They make the interspersed victories almost null and void. Still, if the straw is there, I will hang onto it. Because for the first time in what seems like forever, there are a lot of positives in the way this team goes about things.
The team is, apart from a few players, very inexperienced. But the potential is present. Very few will deny that Devendra Bishoo is one of the most promising players to have made his debut this season. Or that Ravi Rampaul and Lendl Simmons’ re-entry into the international game finds them in better form both physically and mentally. Even Marlon Samuels and Carlton Baugh seem to be getting better with time spent in the middle. And for the first time in ages, there actually seems to be competition for a spot in the team. This is a necessary thing for any team aspiring to be at the top of the rankings. Only those with the best form, and the best potential, should be selected.
But that potential must also be realised in order to build a strong team. It is not built on constant bickering between the WIPA and the WICB. They are two halves of the same whole, and until they realise this, West Indies cricket suffers. And so do the fans. Cricket has always been huge in the region, but the fighting, the contract disputes, the second-string teams, the persistence with out-of-form players...it must end. Then, perhaps, I will consider paying a sky-high price to watch the team, my team, at the Queen’s Park Oval. And perhaps I will not be alone in my consideration.
I am a West Indian. And I am not alone.
I grew up on stories of legends. I observed, in my lifetime, the downfall. I look to the future now. For the time being at least, the future of West Indies cricket is shining brightly. But for that future to come to pass, someone, anyone must first fix the present.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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