October 9, 2012

Problem with West Indies cricket? What problem?

Andrew Hughes
The celebrations begin for the West Indies team, Sri Lanka v West Indies, final, World Twenty20, Colombo, October 7, 2012
West Indies: masters at the hokey pokey  © AFP


That was a good tournament, but it wasn't a great tournament. There were no shock results, for a start. Call me old-fashioned but a tournament doesn't come alive until there's a proper honest-to-goodness, jaw-dropping shocker, of the kind that causes you to spit warm tea all over your copy of the Telegraph and immediately order the butler to gather everyone in the drawing room for an announcement:

"I'm afraid I have to inform you that earlier today, England were defeated by Ireland at cricket. Oh, do stop crying dear, we have to set an example for the staff."

It was also a bit damp around the edges, but then this soggy corner of the Sri Lankan calendar was the only place where the thing could go, and so it was duly squeezed in like a modestly sized Georgian side table in an already well-stocked second-hand furniture shop.

If last year's World Cup was a six-week safari, this was more of a rainy fortnight in Wales, but a rainy fortnight in Wales that left us with some memorable highlights. There was the spectacle of the English batsmen hacking away at thin air in the manner of short-sighted lumberjacks. There was Tony Greig bending down to interview Mahela Jayawardene like Santa Claus seeking clarification from a particularly shy little boy. And the image that will stay with me longest: the fearsome sight of Shapoor Zadran charging in, nostrils flared, arms pumping: like Fred Trueman doing a Waqar Younis impression.

And West Indies won, which was pleasing for three reasons:

1. They were the best team. 2. They were the best dancers. 3. I said they would.*

The triumph of West Indies also suggests that perhaps we'd all got it wrong. The problem with Caribbean cricket was not inter-island squabbling, the brain-boggling ineptitude of the WICB, the comic wrangling of TweedleHunte and TweedleRamnarine, or even the lure of basketball, baseball, croquet, macramé, or whatever else was said to be stealing away the nation's youth from the true path of leather and willow.

No, it turns out all that was needed was a bit of boring old discipline and a spot of unimaginative hard work. So well done to Darren Sammy and Ottis Gibson for stripping the vehicle down, removing the alloy wheels, the expensive chrome accessories and the go-faster stripes, and putting together something altogether more reliable, which may not look as flashy but which doesn't splutter to a grinding halt every five minutes.

Of course, the sun never sets on T20 cricket, and even before the final fireworks had fizzled to earth in Colombo, elsewhere, on a different continent, the place names were being laid out for the opening press conference of the next all-star extravaganza. On Sunday it's West Indies versus Sri Lanka; on Tuesday, say hello Yorkshire and Uva Next, featuring Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jacob Oram, Hilary Clinton, Yohan Blake, and Jay Z.

*Pedantic readers might suggest that this account of my pre-tournament prediction is somewhat disingenuous; however, like a certain Presidential nominee, I refuse to have my blog dictated by fact-checkers.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by david on (October 11, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

Enormous caveat to this discussion: It was only T20!

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (October 11, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

Thanks all for your comments

Circe, I know there's a recession on, but even if you have to let the scullery maid go, you should try to hang on to the butler. One has to try to maintain standards after all.

Saj, I enjoyed your colourful nausea metaphor, but I doubt there's anything I can say to make you feel better, other than that, if it helps, I can assure you that I don't get paid by cheque.

Mrs Doyle is clearly still upset at Ireland's soggy exit, but she is obviously a discerning tea drinker.

And Angshuman is right. West Indies is not a nation. My English teacher would be appalled.

Posted by Angshuman Chatterjee on (October 10, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

Grammar Police check: "nations' youth", not "nation's youth"

Posted by Jayesh Mohan on (October 10, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

Far before the tournament starts, I have predicted the triumph of the west indies team. I always believed the all rounders and big hitters are the key in the shorter version of the the game. West Indies have a plenty of those in their side. Even if their key players gayle,bravo,samuels fails there would be sammy or pollard to give them a challenging total. And also they have a lot of bowling options as well, which makes them a best team of the game. They are always the best in the shorter versions. But may be not too good in test cricket.

Posted by Rafi on (October 10, 2012, 4:43 GMT)

Even it was not a great game, West Indians made it enjoyous until the TV camera set off from the play ground.

Posted by saj on (October 10, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

I have to say that this is a good for nothing article. this guys is vomiting something just for the sake of filling his column to get his pay check. no humor. no sense..so typical of this guy..

Posted by Lahiru Asanka on (October 10, 2012, 1:45 GMT)

haha They were the best dancers.LOL WI have good players..they entertain us..and we love them..SL no worry abt that lost!WI is a very lucky country..anyway CONGRDZ WI..!

Posted by jaswanr behari on (October 10, 2012, 0:44 GMT)

Shiv Chanderpaul,just the best!

Posted by Mrs Doyle on (October 9, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

...yes, Mr Hughes, get ready to spit your Lady Grey all over your copy of the Telegraph....tut, tut

Posted by Asiba on (October 9, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

Yeah Thoroughly enjoyed this article !

Comments have now been closed for this article


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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