June 26, 2011

West Indies Cricket

I am a West Indian

Cricinfo

From Ryon S. Cupidore, West Indies

Darren Sammy has a word with Andre Russell, Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, June 3, 2011
There is always hope  © Associated Press
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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.

Posted by Warren Mendes on (July 18, 2011, 22:26 GMT)

So, what is the "West Indies", anyway? I am a graduate of the University of the West Indies, which is to my knowledge the only other shared institution in the region other than the cricket team. The WI Federation is ancient history and long forgotten. 99 percent of Jamaicans have never traveled to any of the other islands, and would not be able to even understand a Bajan or Trini dialect sufficiently to hold a conversation with one of them. The Scottish and Welsh don't want to play soccer on a "British" team, so what is the incentive of "West Indians" to play for the region? We need to rebuild the regional sense of common culture, and cricket is at the heart of that. Airing the movie "Fire in Babylon" in schools is a good start. Inter island school cricket programs, tournaments, joint training programs, cricket exchange programs, might incentivise the youth and stir their imaginations to want to become cricketers. Every Brasilian kid still wants to be Pele or Kaka or Ronaldo!

Posted by Ravi on (July 18, 2011, 12:28 GMT)

Followed West Indies cricket since the mid 1950's - (man they were just brilliant - Sobers the greatest cricketer that has ever lived no one can touch him) till the Richards era in the 80's. They thrashed most sides notably India - I am not ashamed to say that though being an Indian myself. They were a joy to watch, played the game with such flair - smiling face - feel deprived that the youth of West Indies(natural sportsmen they are) have taken to more lucrative sports namely, basketball, athletics, football & perhaps other american sports as Baseball & Soccer.

Posted by george on (July 14, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

y every body jumping on SAMMY back lets go back to lara he is the one that put WI cricket in this state money is the game

Posted by K. Hall on (July 6, 2011, 22:26 GMT)

What an inspiring article, gives us something to look forward to, at least we're not all fickle-minded West Indians. Blackie's comment on dhall's team was perfectly in order, I'm also Barbadian, we cannot win a regional game, yet he wants a WI team full of Barbadian losers, this must stop regardless of what island they're from.

Posted by Aman Shorey on (July 6, 2011, 0:53 GMT)

Just to mention i like Sammy,he would be the 15th player in my one day team,but to get to the eleven he has to show more consistency with batting as he has showed in glimpses specially against South Africa(remember),He does not fit in the test team somehow.Its high time WI gets a wk who could bat,I would prepare Simmons to fit that role,he did not look that bad behind the stumps against INDIA,remember what Dravid(the great) did for INDIA before Dhoni came,I have gone for Samuels for the captain as he has enough expierience now and is hitting form,i read an article where he mentioned about his life for 2 years while he was banned going through a lot of stuff and how that has changed his outlook towards and how he has matured as an individual,i think if not Sammy he could take WI cricket forward.I just pray to god that just for 6 months WI could field their best eleven and get them rid of all the politics.

Posted by Aman Shorey on (July 6, 2011, 0:33 GMT)

Every body who loves cricket would love the Westindies, even being a proud INDIAN i some times wish Westindies beat INDIA,you all would agree that Westindies have not fielded their best eleven i dont know for how many years now,be it because of injuries,ipl,contract disputes,board-player conflict,regional favoritism, the list could go on.I just wish to see a full strength WI team to play consistently for 6 months and then analyse their progress,i am sure they would suprise many.The good part now about the WI is healthy competition,so i would not like to give an eleven but a fifteen who should be rotated around as per the conditions and form.At the same time it would be important to stick to them for that period, Tests- Gayle,Barath,Darren Bravo,Sarwan,Chanderpaul,Samuels(c),Simmons(wk),Taylor,Rampaul,Edwards,Bishoo--- Roach,Benn,Braithwaite,Baugh, Onedayers- Gayle,Simmons(wk),Darren Bravo,Sarwan,Samuels(C),Pollard,Dwayne Bravo,Russell,Taylor,Bishoo,Edwards---- Rampual,Martin,Barath

Posted by Ashok Sridharan on (June 30, 2011, 12:10 GMT)

Wonderful article and I guess this is the first time someone has acknowledged the fact that West Indies have been steadily impoving over the last couple of years. The results may not be much better, but unlike their predecessors over the last decade or so, this team has not just shown the stomach for a scrap, but has got itself into match winning positions several times in the recent past.

What's holding back this team is not lack of ability or spirit, but lack of self-belief. In many ways they remind me of 90s England- a side not lacking in inspiration, but short on belief. Its just a matter of time before they find the belief to compete. My best wishes to West Indies cricket and its fans.

Posted by Amrish on (June 29, 2011, 13:41 GMT)

I am great fan of WI cricket, I miss Ambrose and Patterson bowling while Viv Richards and Lara's batting.

times and times again, I watch my DVD collection and it is so much fun to watch Ambrose ball or Richards Bat.

Bring back the Glory, sack this current Board officials, they doing the same thing to Gayle, what they did to Lara.

Posted by jason on (June 29, 2011, 11:49 GMT)

i really love wi cricket.want to see make it a comeback an d for that my idea is simple and straight.the ICC should take the control of cricket in the west indies and immediately disolved the WICB.in a year or two make ground level changes and a new cricket board for the west indies comprising past players.i really want to see WI on top once again......

Posted by Rupert Greaves on (June 29, 2011, 5:13 GMT)

The selectors rightfully dropped Nash because of poor form. I was hoping for an opening bowling pair of Edwards and Roach followed by Rampaul, Bishoo and then Sammy. Sammy is not a first change bowler and should only be used to give the others rest if needed.The fastest bowlers in the world would've put the Indians on the back foot from ball 1. I know Roach is out of form after being on his own for so long but I believe that Edwards would've pulled him along. You may say that the batting would've been weakened by leaving out Samuels but I say that if the batsmen are not producing it would be best to play the bowlers who would stop the opposition from piling up big scores and in any case it is the bowlers who are making the runs. From our last visit to Australia, I was always hoping and praying that Edwards and Taylor would quickly regain fitness so that we would again have a 4 prong pace attack.Rampaul is not all that slow, ask Raina.

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