May 28, 2017

What we'll miss about West Indies in the Champions Trophy

Some fun times, that's what
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Is the Champions Trophy even watchable without West Indies in it?

West Indies bring flair and entertainment to every series in which they participate with their big hitting, big personalities and eye-catching celebrations. They even make press conferences fun. Here's a list of things we'll miss about them this Champions Trophy.

Marlon, oh Marlon
Ever seen a modern cricketer at a press conference answering questions with his feet propped up on the table, the pads still on? In Marlon Samuels' world, that's par for the course, along with taking tall chases seemingly to the point of no return and then finishing them off in a blaze of glory.

"I'm a silent killer," he had said before last year's World T20 final, when requested for an interview. After Carlos Brathwaite had hit the winning runs, Samuels was ready to talk. He called Ben Stokes a "nervous lad", and took a jibe at Shane Warne for making critical comments about him. "I don't know [why Warne has a problem with me]. Maybe it's because my face is real and his face is not," Samuels said. He will be missed by fans this Champions Trophy, but also by journalists and headline-writers.

Gayle dreams
Warne famously said once that he had nightmares of Sachin Tendulkar dancing down the track to hit him over his head. Chris Gayle didn't need to move his feet to let Brett Lee feel the way Warne did when he razed down Australia's 169 without breaking a sweat - 46 off his 88 runs came off 18 Lee deliveries - at The Oval. The one glimpse of Gayle in London this time unfortunately won't be at The Oval, but at a charity dinner in which all the ammunition he has used to dispatch bowlers around the world will be up for auction.

My hips and my hits don't lie © AFP

Gayle the rock star
Aside from delighting crowds with his big sixes, Gayle also jokes around with them, ensuring they are always on his side. In Bangalore, his home ground in the IPL, they always are. At a game, after he did the signature Gangnam dance, the giant screen at the Chinnaswamy flashed the question: "Is this the Universe Boss's best celebration?" The big man grinned, turned back and asked the crowd what they thought. They roared, but he signalled to them that he couldn't hear them. They roared again. He still couldn't hear them. And then he did the Gangnam again, followed by a "tuk-tuk" train. The roof came down. His latest party trick, which fans in England will miss, is the Salt Bae.

Bishop's emotional commentary
Commentators like Ian Bishop, who lived through West Indies' glory days and now witness its sorry days, sometimes bring that depth of feeling into their commentary. David Lloyd called the first three balls of the World T20 final during which England saw their chances go up in smoke. Nineteen runs off six balls had become one off three. The microphone was now in Bishop's hand. As Carlos Brathwaite muscled a fourth six, over deep midwicket, Bishop's emotions took over, the pride evident as he shouted: "Carlos Brathwaite! Carlos Brathwaite! Remember the name!" Even if a new name seals itself in cricket's collective mind this Champions Trophy, will it induce with the same sort of goosebumps?

Darren Sammy: you can't help but like him © Getty Images

The nicest man in cricket
Darren Sammy has had his credentials questioned time and again. Sure, his numbers may not have been earth-shattering, but to be a zenith of calm and deliver a lesson in modesty and humility during his hour of glory after leading West Indies to their maiden World T20 title in 2012, when he could have been forgiven for chest-beating, spoke highly of the man.

"I've said it many times that I play for the people. The commentators get paid to speak. The media get paid to write stories. I get paid to play cricket," he said. "And I always say I live my life one way. Christ came to this earth, did nothing wrong and yet was crucified. I'm nowhere close to that man. Anybody could have an opinion about me. I like it. My shoulders are broad enough. It's been like that from the time I started cricket. Once I wear this crest, I wear it on my heart. I don't play for glory. I play for the Caribbean people."

Real contenders
Unlike in the 50-over World Cup, where they last reached the semis in 1996, West Indies have been competitive in the Champions Trophy right from the start. They were runners-up in 1998 and 2006 and won the tournament in 2004, breaking a 25-year world title drought. India are the only other side to have reached the final thrice (2000, 2002 and 2013).

Gayle is the tournament's highest run-getter, with 791 runs from 17 matches at 52.73 with three hundreds. He is also the leading run-getter in a single edition - 474 at 79 in 2006 in India, where his team-mate Jerome Taylor took 13 wickets from seven matches at 22 - the most in one edition.

One thing we won't miss
Their pre-tournament contracts dispute. But thanks for trying, Australia.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Clivos on June 3, 2017, 8:33 GMT

    This above article is like an obituary of West Indian cricket in the big leagues. You know, as when we talk about the good old days. So much for the lofty principles of the West Indian Board executives.

  • Akoben on June 1, 2017, 10:27 GMT

    I would like to congratulate Cricket WI (as they now prefer to be known) on turning things round from a financial position for cricket in the region as well as the forseable future.

    Unfortunately this has come at a present cost of the premier team (and global focal point) being currently relegated to the 2nd division of world cricket. No offense to Afghanistan, but with the legacy that the West Indies has when it comes to preforming on the global stage warrants a real honest conversation with ALL stakeholders (and without egos at the forefront) as while each party will claim to have WI cricket at it's heart, when the team fails, we fail, and not 'them over there'!!

    I for one don't just lay the responsibility at the hands of the board, or the players, or even the ex-players who now it may seem never have a good thing to say about the state of the game in the region. Hence why I take this time to write this note. So, while we watch the ICC Champions Trophy, lets reflect quitely....

  • CricketChat on June 1, 2017, 0:18 GMT

    I will not miss WI at all as they don't deserve to be playing in CT. I am disappointed that AFG is not playing. I think there should be a wildcard given to the top associate team. AFG are as good as BD and definitely higher than WI, ZIM in both ODIs and T20s based on current form and recent results.

  • jupiterlaw on May 31, 2017, 17:59 GMT

    @THIRD_SLIP Given the criterion for selection, WI would have been unlikely to field their best team, so the panache that you alluded to would have been rather subdued by repeated defeats, that they would not have survived the Round Robin stage.

  • Third_slip on May 31, 2017, 17:17 GMT

    I will definitely miss the style and panache of the West Indies in this competition. Once winners, twice beaten finalists and all in an era when they've been consistently weak. When you consider that the West Indies covers a group of largely small, disparate islands with a combined population of just 7 million, their overall achievements both individually and collectively eclipse those of any other cricket country. Both of the recent test series with Pakistan showed there is talent and potential for improvement. But there simply has to be compromise all round from the board especially and also the players. 20 years of domination may be difficult to repeat, but being tough and competitive and winning most games at home shouldn't be.

  • Clivos on May 31, 2017, 15:41 GMT

    If we are following West Indian cricket,we should be also be following International cricket teams....their successes and shortcomings and learn from them in rebuilding and fine tuning our efforts. Fresh off the press we can see that Anil Kumble's position as head coach is in jeopardy because of his "headmaster" approach and the stress and alienation he has caused in his tenure.It is the "headmaster" approach that I alluded to in my earlier comments. Whether it comes from the executives on the Board or the coaches or selectors,it is damaging. Ramesh Sarwan mentioned his issues.;another talented player going down the tubes and then the handling of Sammy,Gayle, Bravos others and even Samuels who choose to fall in line. Look at the problems that Australian team are experiencing because of the same reason. They have fallen from grace. We need quality people to come forward and administrate if we want quality cricket and cricketers....No unopposed election candidates.

  • RohanMarkJay on May 30, 2017, 13:56 GMT

    @Noboundary You are right years of failure after being the number one team in the sport for decades prior to 1990s can do that to a sport. Despite that the 11 that they put on the park they would give their all sometimes and occasional glimpses of the talent and ability that exists in WI cricket even since year 2000. When they won against the odds and surprised everyone by winning T20 Champions trophy tournaments in 2004, 2012 and 2016. That was not enough to keep afloat the sport in the caribbean which suffers from lack of funds due to lack of enthusiasm for the sport in the caribbean. I too like you hope to visit Antigua and Barbados one day first because I always wanted to but never got around to it but also As this region once dominated the sport for decades. Yeah I agree its sad that the sport is hardly ever played there and all thats left are the cricket grounds and cricket stadiums.

  • adreanal on May 30, 2017, 12:17 GMT

    It's sad to see that WI did not qualify for the CT games ahead. I look mainly to see these guys play even if they lose it was worth watching. Would not be the same without them.

  • Rally_Windies on May 30, 2017, 12:15 GMT

    West Indies could have won the last 50 over ODI world cup, if the WICB did not drop all the senior players to play a developmental team IN the World Cup...

    Their poor performance in the World Cup, also caused them to lose enough points to drop to 9th in the rankings ..

    If they played a proper team, they would have at Least made it to the Semi's and would still be ranked 9th....

  • cricfan9167331378 on May 30, 2017, 11:36 GMT

    two times world champion, two times T20 champion And one time winner of champions trophy. not playing CT17 is very painful

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