October 27, 2010

Whatever happened to West Indian pride?

A new documentary captures the ambition and drive that fuelled the West Indies of the 80s. Today's team does not carry the same historical baggage
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"Who is this film for?" As obvious as the question was, it was not, perhaps, quite obvious enough. Why else would it have to be asked twice?

Hinting as it does at self-destruction, Fire in Babylon is the somewhat deceptive title of Stevan Riley's terrific documentary about the West Indies teams that, between the first day of the eighties and May 3, 1995, ruled cricket with an enlightened despotism unmatched, arguably, by any sporting team of any persuasion, in any era. Sports Illustrated, as likely to run an article on cricket as publish a Russian recipe for burgers, bracketed them with the San Francisco 49ers and Liverpool FC as the Team of the Eighties; imagine what accolades might have been bestowed had the editors been able to tell their byes from their leg-byes.

Nor might it seem altogether promising that the director of Fire in Babylon is a pasty-faced Oxford University graduate who studied Chinese, dallied with advertising, shot his first documentary about the underground music scene in war-torn Sarajevo, and turned his second, about a quintet of ambitious Oxford boxers, into a comedy. Fear not. Riley offers us a full x-ray of sporting greatness: the historical and contemporary context, the driving force and the mindset, the soaring talents and the staggering feats. Anyone with the vaguest interest in sport should see it, but none more urgently than the players whose misfortune it has been to follow in those colossal footsteps.

"It's not my gig and I'm not a diehard cricket fan," Riley admitted with disarming and refreshing candour during the early stages of filming, "but if I wasn't inspired by it, I wouldn't do it. I want to look at the civil rights movement, and emancipation, the ancillary stories, and find the universal themes beyond the sport itself." The proof that he has succeeded admirably could be found at the Leicester Square premiere last week: in the applause that rang out from the multi-racial mid-afternoon house and in the ensuing q&a, when every question fired at Riley was prefaced by a heartfelt expression of appreciation or even gratitude. Somewhat pointedly, two members of the audience wondered whether the West Indies board intended to show the film to the current trans-island representatives. Sticking steadfastly to his seat on the fence, Riley said the board had requested a copy, but felt unable to elaborate.

Much if not quite all of Caribbean life is here. The talking heads, naturally and fittingly, are led by Clive, Viv and Mikey, but the storytellers/celebrants also include Bunny Wailer, Lord Short Shirt and other musical figures, their reflections nestling cheek-by-jowl with long-unseen action from World Series Cricket and Tests in the Caribbean, all set to the reggae pulse of Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs. The most bracing aspect is the frankness with which the players, Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Gordon Greenidge and Colin Croft in particular, describe the motivation of the black man in a post-colonial world.

"The things that had driven us in the past were no longer important to the newer generation. Black pride and its militancy, the shrugging off of our colonial legacy, Frank Worrell completing the West Indian version of the Jackie Robinson journey, these things have been historically severed"
Calypsonian David Rudder on the difference between the 80s and today

Time and again, the word "calypso" is uttered, almost spat out, with understandably bitter contempt. Wielded against them as it was, as a dismissive shorthand for a state of mind in which aimless, harmless fun took precedence over the serious business of winning, Lord Kitchener's fabled homage to "those little pals o' mine/Ramadhin and Valentine" held scant appeal for the more militant generation that followed.

While researching a biography of Desmond Haynes, I asked Clive Lloyd to pinpoint the turning of the tide. The presence on his dressing table of Eric Williams' Inward Hunger - The Education of a Prime Minister hinted at the measured nature of the response. "In my first Test against England in 1968, Jeff Jones called Wes Hall a 'black bastard' or something," Lloyd said. "Wes got uptight at first, then realised he shouldn't let it get to him. You mustn't let these guys get through to you. The minute they upset you they've done their job, because you're going to give away your hand. You're going to want to hit that ball so hard you're going to hit it too hard, so you're not going to time it. The best thing is to stay there and grind those fielders into the dust. That was the West Indies of old - calypso, Carry on Flamboyant, not putting a lot of thought into your cricket. That's how they used to get us out years ago - probably call out some racist remarks and then you get uptight and give your hand away. "After that 1975-76 trip to Australia, we began to change, to get it together. People think it's payback time but that's just so stupid. It's not a matter of paying back. People don't understand the importance of cricket in the West Indies. We were showing people. We were showing the world that we can be just as good as anyone else. That's all. It's a quiet demonstration, if you like."

Helpfully, the first tour after that 5-1 drubbing in Australia saw the England captain engage tongue before brain. "When Tony Greig said they'd make us grovel, I don't know if he understood the meaning of the word," reckoned Lloyd, "but here you had a white South African telling you he was going to make you grovel, and the sort of pride that is in players today made people just go out there and make him eat his words." Fire in Babylon, which concludes with a scroll through the unparalleled run of 29 Test series strung together by Lloyd and Richards' sides, is the tale of how those words, and others of a similar hue, were force-fed to a succession of impotent opposition camps by men for whom collective pride, regional and racial, was everything.

NOW, 35 YEARS LATER, West Indies are preparing to tour Sri Lanka, solidarity dented by the refusal of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard to sign their central contracts. At face value at least, the commitment to the regional cause - one demanded, lest we forget, of no other set of players - is less than complete. Riley acknowledges that times, once again, have changed. "This film," he has asserted, "is about a very specific generation - the generation that overlapped the era of independence. Suddenly, you had this group of youngsters who want to make a firm statement that they'd broken with their colonial past and wanted to put the West Indies on the map. This surge of ambition was, in many ways, peculiar to that generation."

Which is why, 15 years after the empire was finally brought down by Steve Waugh's grimly devoted double-hundred in Jamaica, the ambition is less apparent, the motives so readily questioned. "We need to recognise that the nationalist passions of an earlier time have been significantly weakened and cannot be rekindled by patriotic speeches so long as the actions of the state on a daily basis question its own relevance." Those words were written for The New Ball, a decade ago, by Professor Hilary Beckles, who has articulated the attitudes of the post-Richards generation as ably as CLR James promoted the case for Frank Worrell's ascent to the West Indies captaincy half a century ago. Now, with consistent form a tiny, shrinking image in the rear-view mirror, finances at a near-subterranean ebb, and relations between players and board still light years from uniformly cordial, Beckles' sentiments ring truer than ever.

As do more recent ones conveyed by the world's best-known calypsonian, David Rudder, composer of "Rally 'Round the West Indies", the unifying anthem for a fractured region. To Rudder, attested Joy AI Mahabir in an academic paper entitled "Rhythm and Class Struggle: The Calypsoes of David Rudder", calypso is less about the joy of music than using rhythm "as an ideological language that can be used to engage in class struggle by conveying progressive ideas and inspiring progressive actions". Interviewed last year by Gary Steckles of the Toronto Star, Rudder alighted on the cause, as he sees it, of the cricketers' precipitous decline: "Well, we didn't plan ahead, we took our blessings for granted, the world changed around us, and the things that had driven us in the past were no longer important to the newer generation. Black pride and its militancy, the shrugging off of our colonial legacy, Frank Worrell completing the West Indian version of the Jackie Robinson journey, these things have been historically severed."

Yet for all the eyebrows it raised, the left-field appointment as captain of Darren Sammy has prompted the needle on the optimistometer to flicker to life. It is all too easy to be seduced by the latest well-meaning call to arms by the latest new West Indies captain, wholly unprepared as he invariably is to withstand the full blast of the heat in that particular kitchen, but here, we can safely assume, is no Chris "I'm Not Bovvered" Gayle. Here, it seems, is someone not only aware of that heritage but unintimidated by it. As he put it with some eloquence the other day, "I am taking on a mountain that carries so much legacy, and I will also remind the guys of the great legacy that we carry." The immediate priority, nevertheless, is to "bring back the joy". There are worse places to start.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dhar40 on November 3, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    If you want to see pride pick this team:

    A tiger a tough pro and the exuberance of youth: Shiv and Nash to lead the 2010 under 19 side. When Gayle, Dwayne and Sarwan come knocking we will say prove it in our domestic cricket.

  • delboy on November 1, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    @Metman, it matters not what Gayle and Co. are chasing. The all concuring WI of the 70's thru 90's (Quality ones anyway) all featured in the English county game where they supplemented their earnings and still managed to put in good performances playing against some of the best.... Until it gets into the heads of WI men that it matters not how much you earn but how you invest I'm afraid WI cricket will keep going to the WELL and one day find that the bottom of the bucket is REALLY broken! Management need to get away from the view of we played for PRIDE...that era is finished..PROFESSIONALS, must prepare like pros, play like pros and be rewarded like pros and when they do not measure up be treated like pros as in given the PUSH. The region's best number 4 batsman is currently unfit to represent the WI; good this looks like a start of a professional setup take the captaincy away from the leading opener and if he can't focus on HIS GAME he should be shown the door..CONSISTENCY.

  • delboy on November 1, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    PRIDE COME BEFORE A FALL!

  • on October 28, 2010, 21:05 GMT

    Its not just the West Indies players who've changed but also the fans. Back in the 70s and 80s they really added to the occasion with their vocal support, especially the Tests at the Oval and Edgbaston in 1976, 1980 and 1984 and at the World Cup finals at Lords in 75 and 79 and the tours by England and Australia to the Caribbean in 1980, 84 and 86. Now its completely changed, their supporters either stay away or are outnumbered by tourists. Maybe they've been priced out by ticket prices, non-availability of pay-on-the-gate tickets, stringent restrictions on bringing items like drums, dustbin lids etc into the grounds or maybe the current generation of West Indians don't have the same level of passion or even interest in the game. Whatever the reason, their absence is very sad. Something seems to have been lost from the game.

  • on October 28, 2010, 18:22 GMT

    What Would The Legends of WI Like Viv ,Clive,Gary Will Be feeling Today What Was There Team And What's The Team Today...................?????????

  • Punter_28 on October 28, 2010, 17:27 GMT

    The Windies Cricket is gone for ever... sad but true, their cream of talent is nolonger interested in Cricket as there is very little money as compared to club level basket ball in the US or Athletics, the world of Cricket will never ever see the likes of 3 Ws, those marauding quickies, Viv , Kanhai, Headley, Greenidge, Haynes and the incomparable Gary.. sad indeed.

  • StaalBurgher on October 28, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    It is very simple. Back in the day the British administered West Indies cricket. As their people, money and cultural influence was phased out so did the structures and mental application diminish. It is no accident that the last top quality players such as Lara and Chanderpaul were the last ones to come through that old system. And as some others have said, West Indies cricket won't ever recover.

  • george204 on October 28, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    One other thought: There was no shortage of pride, spirit & enthusiasm when they rolled England over for 51 at Sabina Park in 2009, nor at Trinidad at the end of the same series when they held on for a draw to win the series. The players clearly loved it & it makes me wonder why they can't/don't/won't strive to hit those heights regularly.

  • Percy_Fender on October 28, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    The West Indies always had great players in their team whether it was George Headley who actually hailed from Panama or Learie Constantine or Garfield Sobers or Seymour Nurse.Maybe because they came from disparate islands there was no national identity till Frank Worrell came along and led them in the famous Tie drawn series in Australia in 1961. Even after that epic series,they strayed away till Clive Lloyd brought about this battering ram concept from the World Cup of 1975 which they won.After that though they lost 1-5 to Australia in 75 after much was expected of them, the world got to see what Lloyd had in mind not too much later.No team, just none could be compared with this group of supreme athletes. Someone suggeted that Pakistan could be bracketed with them because of their present day woes.That in my opinion is sacrilege. Pakistan did have the Imrans and the Sarfarazs the Majids and the Miandads.Though they did well in a purple patch under Imran,it was it was not the same.

  • UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on October 28, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    Mr.Steen, the reasons for WI downfall is Financial & Short-sightedness......... ............Financial because the W.Indian players of pre-1990 era came from financially weak background.......they were more conscious of the racial abuse/divide......hence they had a burning desire to succeed & show the racists who is superior.....& they found cricket as a stepping stone to rise............Todays generation is more successful & socially secured mostly migrating to the USA..................Short-sightedness by WI Cricket Board, which didn't capitalize on the immense popularity of cricket in WI......they didn't invest in building a system, in infrastructures like stadium, better training facilities....which Australia & India did.....as a result raw talents were attracted towards more lucrative baseball & in migrating to the USA.....

  • Dhar40 on November 3, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    If you want to see pride pick this team:

    A tiger a tough pro and the exuberance of youth: Shiv and Nash to lead the 2010 under 19 side. When Gayle, Dwayne and Sarwan come knocking we will say prove it in our domestic cricket.

  • delboy on November 1, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    @Metman, it matters not what Gayle and Co. are chasing. The all concuring WI of the 70's thru 90's (Quality ones anyway) all featured in the English county game where they supplemented their earnings and still managed to put in good performances playing against some of the best.... Until it gets into the heads of WI men that it matters not how much you earn but how you invest I'm afraid WI cricket will keep going to the WELL and one day find that the bottom of the bucket is REALLY broken! Management need to get away from the view of we played for PRIDE...that era is finished..PROFESSIONALS, must prepare like pros, play like pros and be rewarded like pros and when they do not measure up be treated like pros as in given the PUSH. The region's best number 4 batsman is currently unfit to represent the WI; good this looks like a start of a professional setup take the captaincy away from the leading opener and if he can't focus on HIS GAME he should be shown the door..CONSISTENCY.

  • delboy on November 1, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    PRIDE COME BEFORE A FALL!

  • on October 28, 2010, 21:05 GMT

    Its not just the West Indies players who've changed but also the fans. Back in the 70s and 80s they really added to the occasion with their vocal support, especially the Tests at the Oval and Edgbaston in 1976, 1980 and 1984 and at the World Cup finals at Lords in 75 and 79 and the tours by England and Australia to the Caribbean in 1980, 84 and 86. Now its completely changed, their supporters either stay away or are outnumbered by tourists. Maybe they've been priced out by ticket prices, non-availability of pay-on-the-gate tickets, stringent restrictions on bringing items like drums, dustbin lids etc into the grounds or maybe the current generation of West Indians don't have the same level of passion or even interest in the game. Whatever the reason, their absence is very sad. Something seems to have been lost from the game.

  • on October 28, 2010, 18:22 GMT

    What Would The Legends of WI Like Viv ,Clive,Gary Will Be feeling Today What Was There Team And What's The Team Today...................?????????

  • Punter_28 on October 28, 2010, 17:27 GMT

    The Windies Cricket is gone for ever... sad but true, their cream of talent is nolonger interested in Cricket as there is very little money as compared to club level basket ball in the US or Athletics, the world of Cricket will never ever see the likes of 3 Ws, those marauding quickies, Viv , Kanhai, Headley, Greenidge, Haynes and the incomparable Gary.. sad indeed.

  • StaalBurgher on October 28, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    It is very simple. Back in the day the British administered West Indies cricket. As their people, money and cultural influence was phased out so did the structures and mental application diminish. It is no accident that the last top quality players such as Lara and Chanderpaul were the last ones to come through that old system. And as some others have said, West Indies cricket won't ever recover.

  • george204 on October 28, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    One other thought: There was no shortage of pride, spirit & enthusiasm when they rolled England over for 51 at Sabina Park in 2009, nor at Trinidad at the end of the same series when they held on for a draw to win the series. The players clearly loved it & it makes me wonder why they can't/don't/won't strive to hit those heights regularly.

  • Percy_Fender on October 28, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    The West Indies always had great players in their team whether it was George Headley who actually hailed from Panama or Learie Constantine or Garfield Sobers or Seymour Nurse.Maybe because they came from disparate islands there was no national identity till Frank Worrell came along and led them in the famous Tie drawn series in Australia in 1961. Even after that epic series,they strayed away till Clive Lloyd brought about this battering ram concept from the World Cup of 1975 which they won.After that though they lost 1-5 to Australia in 75 after much was expected of them, the world got to see what Lloyd had in mind not too much later.No team, just none could be compared with this group of supreme athletes. Someone suggeted that Pakistan could be bracketed with them because of their present day woes.That in my opinion is sacrilege. Pakistan did have the Imrans and the Sarfarazs the Majids and the Miandads.Though they did well in a purple patch under Imran,it was it was not the same.

  • UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on October 28, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    Mr.Steen, the reasons for WI downfall is Financial & Short-sightedness......... ............Financial because the W.Indian players of pre-1990 era came from financially weak background.......they were more conscious of the racial abuse/divide......hence they had a burning desire to succeed & show the racists who is superior.....& they found cricket as a stepping stone to rise............Todays generation is more successful & socially secured mostly migrating to the USA..................Short-sightedness by WI Cricket Board, which didn't capitalize on the immense popularity of cricket in WI......they didn't invest in building a system, in infrastructures like stadium, better training facilities....which Australia & India did.....as a result raw talents were attracted towards more lucrative baseball & in migrating to the USA.....

  • on October 28, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    West Indies cricket downfall since ECB(english cricket board)and counties stop taking west indian cricketer in to counties.Look at Clive Lloyd time when he was captain all of them play for counties and there bread and butter was playing cricket in England.So pls these was major fall for west indies cricket.And also blame Legends cricketer didn't take any resposiablity after become legend cricketer and Knight hooded.They never work togather for the future of west indies cricket.All they were for own benifit not for west indies cricket.I love west indies cricketers played with them in england and in USA.I have great realtions with all past and present cricketer and i have great feeling for Carribbeans.They have to form system and work with English Cricket Board to bring talented cricktere to all counties on scolarship basis.West Indies Cricketers had a lot of contributions for English Cricket Now it is pay back time for English Cricket Board.I am great admirer for west indies cricket.

  • on October 28, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    feel very sad to see the West Indies team struggling ........ west indies ruled the cricket world for around 10 years...... now i feel very sad for them.. now i want them to regain that legacy and then we would happily say them ac THE CARRIBEAN KINGS

  • chad_reid on October 28, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    THIS ARTICLE SEEMS TO BE WRITTEN VERY VERY LATE WI HAVE LOST THEIR MOJO FOR A VERY VERY LONG LONG TIME :))

  • on October 28, 2010, 2:59 GMT

    that is sad what has happened to west indies cricket but you could see the similarities pakistan and west indies have the both strong teams of 70s and 80s are struggling and need to rise

  • Natx on October 28, 2010, 2:26 GMT

    There was no better cricket in the world that I watched than WIndies in their prime - top drawer fast bowling that made everyone to duck, jump, stumps flying plus their aggressive batting. Very sad to see their current state of things where money makes everyone quit early for Twenty20 stuff. Quite a shame indeed. Unless people stop to support the piece meal cricket, I don't see the game improving and bringing those memories back. I can't blame the cricketers but will rather blame all supporters that only go to Twenty20. Let's unite to stop this nonsense stuff to bring the game back to where it was. Or in 10 years, a game called cricket will be history.

  • Biggus on October 27, 2010, 23:35 GMT

    @Ravishankar Natarajan-They were neutral umpires in Sydney. What are you suggesting? That we bribed them? Easy on the paranoia mate!

  • Metman on October 27, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    All you people saying that WI cricket will rise to the top again is akin to waiting on a Tortoise to outrun a Hare in a 100m dash! It is not that we dont have talent,it is coming through!but the problems are there (1) Money in a few players hands....result ,I can do as I like,I have already made mine.(2)Biases ,jealousy,and insularity are more rampant now than ever before among the players,Umpires,Commentators and especially among the Board and the Selectors,who are more interested in how many of their countrymen they can get selected.In the past,we had batsmen with first class averages between 40 and 50 ,and could not be a permanent player on the test team.Nowadays,the selectors are going after a player with an av.between 12 and 19,selecting a person for the A team because he made a ton in a festival match,selecting a player with 4 T20 matches,av.about 23,before one with 7,av.about 41,and to top it all giving a contract to a bowler with a test av.of 107!and I can go on and on!

  • on October 27, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Just a sad era for us West Indians, but the sun will rise again!

  • Venkatb on October 27, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    I amd unsure if either the players or the WICB lack the commitment - the real culprit may actually be the spread of American television into the Carribean with the result several aspiring sportsmen from various Carribean islands chose one of 2 sports - professional baseball or the NBA. Cricket was no longer financially attractivet - the WICB thought it had a savior in Stanford who could have infused the much needed money the game needs to rekindle interest among the public. It is no surprise Gayle and co. are chasing the Indain rupee or $. While English county cricket and professional clubs in Lancashire were attractive for earlier generations, the money has largely vanished elsewhere and it is only in India that the rupee foolishly chases anything in white (or colored) flannels. WI can easily come back to the top - all it needs are 2 fast bowlers and WI will be back in contention.

  • knowledge_eater on October 27, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    Because comparing eras will certainly kill the future crop, and I hope fans like me will never going let that happen. Its part of Cycle. If team is not winning that doesn't prove always that team is not strong enough. How good Eng. team was other than Ashes performance against other teams before ? How Good Aus. was before the rise of Waugh brothers McGrath and Warne ? How good were Indians before sudden batting emergent of Middle order? I can say the same thing about Pakistan when they won World Cup under Imran and made it to final once. Does that mean there is no talent currently ? No it doesn't. Cricket Talent was never gone and will never die, in any country, say WI in this, there are lot of players who are good but others are as good or slightly better, there are no freebies especially in Cricket. 11 players have to perform optimally and other opp. 11 have to fail comfortably. Its very complicated to rate any team eras. "Chilrdren's Children are crown to the aged" Accept it. Peace

  • knowledge_eater on October 27, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    Many things happened since then Americanization kicked in Country, lot of migrated out of country. If people think Walsh Ambrose Bishop and Best weren't good bowlers as Marshall and Holding, then I don't know what kind of Fan they are!! There is lot of talent in WI, but lot of others around them got better after 'Calypso' kings retirement. Administration crumbled. And no-one plays cricket Volunteering. I am not sure about "Pride" crap. Hmm really ! Economics and survival as a cricketer have lot to do with players choosing Club Cricket, where talent is rated properly. I 100% agree with Ray Sargeant's comment. Its not that simple. And you know what I also don't like when people say "hey, WI team is not going to be that strong like they were in 80's and all that" Really, I don't believe in that. (Cont.)

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on October 27, 2010, 17:26 GMT

    I remember when Pakistan toured The West Indies in 1977. There was a fast bowler named Safraz Nawaz who opened the attack with Imran Khan. They were playing a test match at The bourda Ground in Georgetown, Guyana. The West Indian opening batsman, Gordon Greenidge was in an aggressive mood and had struck consecutive sixes off the bowling of Safraz, one delivery landing quite loudly on the galvanized roofing sheets of the commentary box. Of course the home crowd was exstatic with excitement and this only angered the bowler. Safraz went up to his captain at the time and asked to be taken off before the over was completed. This was the kind of pressure that The Great West Indies cricket team used to exert on its opponents. How we miss that sort of thing now.

  • on October 27, 2010, 16:05 GMT

    @Biggus: "I watched almost every ball of that series and I just think it plain bad luck that the bulk of the poor decisions went that way". This is how always it happens. It happens very often. for ex: sydney test between aus vs ind. no body could forgot that. still you thought that was a bad luck - bulk of poor decisions but you people were genuine. omg..

  • SrikanthReddi on October 27, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    WI can retain the glory with help from Administration, Players and Legends. People who doesn't have commitment should be shown the door. What great did Gayle, Bravo, Pollard do to WI cricket other occasional cameos? These are the most shameless cricketers ever. Watching Viv, Malcom, Colin, Loyd, Hanes, Greenidge, Ambrose, Walsh on youtube makes me proud of WI cricket and inspries.

  • Thunee_man_Naidoo on October 27, 2010, 14:57 GMT

    The current West Indies players have no drive, no ambition and, most important of all, no appreciation of the position they hold in the West Indian team. Guys like Chris Gayle know they can turn down a contract without harming their place in the squad. The WICB need to show that they don't need the likes of Gayle, Bravo or Pollard by having a strong domestic competition so that when a player refuses to play, a suitable and abled replacement is available to take said players place in the team (and still be able to make a reasonable contribution)

  • Biggus on October 27, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    Much as Chris Gayle is an exciting player he isn't the sort of captain a national side needs. He's not bothered? He should be! When Australia was getting thumped in the 80's Allan Border was so bothered it turned him from an easy going, fun loving guy into 'Captain Grumpy'. Clive Lloyd likewise after the 75/76 debacle in OZ was so bothered he set himself to do something about it.@Ray Sergeant-I do think pride has something to do with it and you can throw in self-respect as well. If these things really matter, you won't allow yourself to play those silly shots that just scream 'mental weakness', and you will also make damn sure your fellow players know how you feel. The captain of a cricket side has to be a rock. He has to lead by example both physically and mentally-to utilise the talents and skills of his experienced players and provide focus and guidance to those younger players who are unsure of their position and role in the team. It's not a job for the faint-hearted.

  • crabman144 on October 27, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    @RAY SARGEANT - Well said!!! WI cricket may not be doing well at the moment but that doesn't mean that the people of the Caribbean has lost their PRIDE. I was born and raised in the Caribbean but has moved away since, so cricket was naturally a part of life and continues to be. EVERY TIME the West Indies is playing, i am supporting them, WIN, LOST OR DRAW. No one wants to see the team they support loses. West Indies cricket were the team to beat in the 70's 80's and early 90's, so every other team had to improve and that they did because they had the resources needed to improve their training and preparation whilst the WI team continue to play on just talent. With that being said, I will like to wish Darren Sammy and the West Indies the best of luck in Sri Lanka. The Caribbean will be watching and supporting.....

  • on October 27, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    The history and legacy of West Indies seems to be lost on the current crop of cricketers, administrators and journalists. Cricket became more than a game for the masses of the West Indies because it was the game of colonial rulers masters. According to the late C.L.R James the British army stationed in the West Indies after the Battle of Waterloo played a key role in the introduction of cricket to the islands of the West Indies. By the beginning of the twentieth century cricket had become an integral part of the cultural practices of the masses of the Caribbean. Sadly there was little assistance and not comfortable spaces within the early culture for black. It was the sport of the white masters and the coloured elite in the islands. Until West Indian cricketers understand that cricket is more that a game to the people of the region the will be forever lost.

  • gudolerhum on October 27, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    While WI cricket benefited from exposure to English conditions many in the WI believed, erroneously, that the WICB and the players were wrong to play there as this 'taught' the English how to play. They wanted players to only play domestic cricket. How wrong they have proved to be. England woke up, put controls in place and WI cricket has suffered. Another fact that has affected the current players - ATTITUDE. I believe that much of the blame lies at the feet of some of those giants who taught the players of the 80s their pride. Viv could handle his arrogance and pride and he encouraged lesser players to feel the same way. They have not been able to handle this, they do not have his talent and skill. They fall pathetically short and their cricket suffers. Maybe Sammy with his honest approach can mould the current group to produce better results. However with Chris Gayle still among the pigeons, I do not hold out much hope. He should be at home waiting for his next lucrative contract.

  • avis1001 on October 27, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    Though I am from India and Indian fan and will stop watching any match if India is about to lose, exception was with Windies. I will see the match until the end even if India loses it, as I used to like the Windies team.

  • on October 27, 2010, 12:55 GMT

    Who are u too question West Indian pride? Where were was your pride when we beating??? Ppl need to stop trying to compare our current players with our pass players! It's not because of a lack of passion or pride... its simply, the other nations have way more resources and facilities than us now so we're bound to be left behind. Our cricket is at a stand still because we don't play as much domestic cricket as the other nation... club cricket only on weekends and barely have first class matches. We're third world countries with small populations so our guys can't make a living playing domestic cricket like other nations so they have to get other jobs.. i know within myself that we have a tremendous amount of cricketing talent in the Caribbean and if we could financially get a professional league, where our guys could play without worrying about how they will feed their families, he would be back to the TOP of world cricket in no time.. So plz don't question our PRIDE.

  • Biggus on October 27, 2010, 12:41 GMT

    @Majr-Whilst the Windies had some poor umpiring decisions go against them in 75/76 I really don't think this was intentional on the part of the umpires. I watched almost every ball of that series and I just think it plain bad luck that the bulk of the poor decisions went that way. In my opinion the main importance of the modern system of neutral umpires is to eliminate any suggestion of bias that might arise from such suggestions. If you think we Australians like to win that way you really don't know us. If we thought our umpires were giving us a free ride we would have got rid of them ourselves. Recently against India here in OZ with neutral umpires when some went against the tourists we were still accused of cheating. I really think some Indian supporters are inclined to ignore the dodgy decisions that go their way and regard ones that go against them as a crime against humanity.

  • TheCaptayne on October 27, 2010, 12:23 GMT

    Interesting article - i remember well the 'calypso cricket' cliche that was always wheeled out for the Windies. And their success was often belittled as being merely due to 'natural' talent, physical attributes - patronising at best, racist at worst. In fact their success was mainly due to hard work, mental toughness and fine cricket brains. We (England) took some terrible beatings from them in the 80s, but just great to watch. Holding bowling at the Oval in 76, Marshall in 84, Viv R or Gordon G at almost any time, just wonderful.

  • SUNDOS on October 27, 2010, 11:35 GMT

    It's difficult to believe that a team that once dominated world cricket is now at the bottom of the ladder.The former greats have all tried their hand at mentoring/coaching.managing the team.Makes one wonder how Worrell/Sobers/Lloyd and to a lesser extent Richards moulded different islands under one flag.Other greats like Holding,now commentate with voices laden with pathos at the falling standards.The great Tony Cozier has taken refuge in humour and nostalgia.World cricket has waited for an entire generation post thje great Richards and Lara to pass and there is little light at the end of the tunnel.The likes of Pollard and Bravo are ilkl suited for the longer versions.One can only hope that by some miracle a new generation of cricketers emerge from this lovely land.

  • george204 on October 27, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    @ ricardowill - you are correct that county cricket helped the West Indies players of the 70s & 80s a lot. Actually, it was mutually beneficial - county cricket was stronger for having so many West Indian fast bowlers running around in it. But it's a little unfair to suggest that England "ruined" West Indies cricket. If anything, England masked the West Indies' domestic shortcomings. The WI authorities were too short sighted to remedy those shortcomings & so naive as to assume that county cricket would always provide a home for so many of their players - that's what ruined WI cricket. Remember that at the same time as WI dominated cricket, England were in disarray & it probably seemed a logical step at the time to reduce the large number of foreign players in county cricket.

  • on October 27, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    And all power to Darren Sammy. The talent is there - I just hope he can galvanise it.

  • MartinAmber on October 27, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    While everyone's in an 'all-time great' mood, whose mouth doesn't water when imagining WI 1980-95 XI versus Australia 1995-2008 XI? We have a couple of glimpses of what might have taken place in such a dream series - 1992/93 WI beat Aus by 1 run; 1998/99 WI beat Aus by 1 wicket. Unfortunately their most dominant sides didn't really overlap, so we have to dream on.

  • PHANTOM-X on October 27, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    Foot Ball = Brazil, Cricket = Windies.

  • Percy_Fender on October 27, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Continued. A strategy of having real fast bowlers. All demoniac and fire spewing all the time. They simply rode rough shod over every other team after that with this kind of bowling strategy. They were ruthless in the extreme and had the batting of Richards Greenidge,Haynes, KallicharanLloyd,and Gomes. All of them were capable of scoring really big.They won the World Cup in 75 and 79 but India shocked them in 83 only to pay a heavy price when West Indies came later that year.It is sad that cricket has lost its carribean flavour in recent times because when they played anywhere their was no home team bias. They seemed super human in every form of athleticism and we sat back and decided to enjoy a good game of cricket. Which is why I am happy and full of expectations with Darren Sammy having taken over from Gayle.This could just be the turning point we have all waited for.With Barath, Pollard,Chanderpaul, Deonaraine,Sarwan Roach Taylor and Edwards,a great future beckons.

  • Percy_Fender on October 27, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    Though I had seen the West Indies team of 1958 which had legends like Gilchrist, Hall, Sobers Smith and Kanhai, when they demolished India. The West Indians alwys fascinated people in India. In 1974, they played a 5 Test series in India. The great Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge had their baptism in Tests in Bangalore. Greenidge scored a 100 but Viv did not cover himself with much glory.The West Indies hammered India at Bangalore and then in Delhi when the King scored 192.Not for nothing had we heard so much about this man.India won the next two Tests thanks largely to Pataudi's captaincy and Bedi and Prasanna's brilliant bowling.Then they lost the last one at Bombay and we lost 2-3. It was a great series. They had Andy Roberts Keith Boyce and Julien in their attack. No one knew wat lay ahead because they lost 1-5 in Australia. Neutral umpiring had not come then and there were many decisions that were biased in favour of Australia.That was when Lloyd decided to have a shock strategy.

  • Ozthewombat on October 27, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    I have always been a passioate Oz supporter, but I have always enjoyed watching all games of cricket none more so than test. When people talk about great teams and their dominance such as Bradman's Invincables, The Aussies under Waugh then Ponting there has never been anyteam to match the complete dominance and mystic that was the West Indies of the eighties and early nineties. Batsmen that would smash any bowling attack, a bowling attack that could intimidat and then destroy opposition batting. Yet they did this with a smile, sense of fun but with determination and fair play.It is a great shame that the current WI players don't play and view the game as their predecessers did.

  • on October 27, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Cricket would not have been what it is but for the colour, gait, glamour and spirit those gents brought to the cricket field. Compare todays boisterous high fives this is a derivation from how the Windies team celebrated their moments, sometime today, it looks contrived while when we saw these gents doing it we could find spontainety.

    The laughter, mirth, chuckle all were real. Similarly when they were angry they were angry but they were never stupid to carry it beyond the cricket field and had their scores settled that day, that time, in the field itself.

    This is one of the key reasons they were able to perform continously and consistently that long. They were beyond animosity, grudges are for school kids and the not so confident types here were some class acts which stemmed from talent and pride.

    The cicketing and sporting world would have been poor but for these blokes who played for the pleasure of it and we were blessed to see and feel the joy.

  • on October 27, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    A game is played to derive annd give joy out of it. That is what the Widies of the 70's, 80's gave to cricket. There was unalloyed pleasure just watching these guys.

    True they put the fear of God while bowling but they raised the bar of batsmanship so high that we had a Gavaskar, a Viswanath, a Mohinder, a Greg Chapell, a Ian, a Walters, a Gower, a Gooch, a Lamb countering them and writing history on the stones with iron nails. These legacies are what we are proud of today.

    Take their batting that too threw up some of the finest pacers and spinners this world has seen Lille, Thommo, Hadlee, Kapil, Imran, Botham characters who went into immortality just challenging the great Windies team.

    That team is a water shed in the history of the game and today if cricket has this fearless and fast and furious approach history will tell that the cue was got from Lloyd, Richards, Haynes, Greenidge, Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Marshall and all those worthy men who wore those whites.

  • Gizza on October 27, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    I was watching a documentary on the greatest Test Series of All Time (1960-61 tour of Aus by WI) and Richie Benaud seemed to suggest that had Frank Worrell's life not been tragically cut short, he could have later politically unite the entire English-speaking Caribbean into one country. Such was his charisma and influence.

  • on October 27, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    THE WEST INDIAN FLAIR,BRILIIANCE ON THE CRICKET MATCHES DURING THE 1970'S,1980'S, MID 1990'S IS TERRIBLY MISSING NOWADAYS..IN THE FAST BOWLING DEPARTMENT JERMAINE LAWSON,TINO BEST,PATTRICK PATTERSON,WINSTON BENJAMIN,KENNEY BENJAMIN,JEROME TAYLOR, DARREN POWELL, KEMAR ROACH, RAVI RAMPAUL,PEDRO COLLINS,MERVYN DILLON,ADAM SANFORD,CAMERON CUFFY THEY HAVE HAD POTENTIAL AND TALENT..BUT THEY NEVER WENT ON TO EMULATE JOEL GARNER,CURTLY AMROSE,COURTNEY WALSH,ROBERTS,MARSHALL,WES HALL,COLLIN CROFT IN TERMS OF CONSISTENCY OF PERFORMANCE..IN BATTING ALSO THE SARWANS,CHNADERPAULS,HOOPERS,ADAMS,GAYLES, WERE VERY GOOD , BUT LACKED CONSISTENCY TO BE IN RECKONING TO BE THE BEST...WE NEED WEST INDIES CRICKET TO COME BACK WITH A BANG...GO GO WEST INDIES...WE ARE WITH YOU..WE SUPPORT YOU FROM HEART AND SOUL..

  • ricardowill on October 27, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    The problem with West Indies cricket started when England changed their policies with overseas players and County Cricket. The West Indies team in the 80's had a lot of experience playing County Cricket in good English weather conditions. Cricket provided a stable career for those cricketers and they benefited from the coaching they received in England.

    The players of today don't have the opportunities that were presented in the 80's. They get lucrative short term contract, but know training and their focus now is how quick they can make a buck.

    England played a big part in ruining West Indies Cricket.

  • Biggus on October 27, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    I have to agree with Meety. It used to be that in Australia a visit by the Windies was awaited with the same anticipation as an Ashes series but the latest have been a tad ho-hum. Down under we've always admired their death-or-glory style and it's sad to see what has become of these wonderful entertainers. Whilst I intend no disrespect to other nations England are our traditional opponents and the Windies have to me always seemed like our natural opponents given their attacking style and strong pace attacks. Having said that, anyone who knows their cricket history understands that these things go in cycles-Australia have fallen from their recent omnipotent status too and England are only now finding their feet after a terrible trot. Like we say in OZ- "One day the rooster-the next the feather duster". I have no doubt that the Windies will rise again.

  • PGW81 on October 27, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    What the WI of that era accomplished is much more than a slice of history. That they could enthrall audiences worldwide spoke volumes of how they played their cricket. They were sportsmen - I grew up hearing tales of how the great side unde Lloyd used to tour Chennai and how people from far off places used to queue up before dawn to watch the WI play in Chepauk - legend has it that Lloyd once hit a six out of the stadium and that it landed in a nearby canal - the West Indians of that era were passionate, commiited, respected their opponents and let their on-field performace speak. This article evokes a sense of nostalgia - the bygone era will never ever appear - the players need a sense of national pride and need to be competitive - they are a very talented bunch but without direction. They need to understand that the legacy which they have inherited is much more than history - its a piece of sporting glory - sack the players who are after money - hoping for a WI resurgence and revival

  • Saxo on October 27, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    What is this "enlightened despotism", you speak of Mr. Steen?

    The Windies of Lloyd/Richards were good, ruthless, and did whatever they had to do to win, including bouncing out tailenders. Memories fade, romantic notions take hold and writers wax eloquent, nostalgic B.S to fill column inches. Let's not forget - they won as they had the weapons to beat the opponents. Now, they have neither the talent nor the work ethic nor the desire to win. So, they are a mediocre team languishing near the bottom. These are the facts.

    So, once again, what is 'enlightened' about it?

  • Meety on October 27, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    World cricket needs the WI back at the top of the ladder. There is talent there, a pity that the application is not there.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Meety on October 27, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    World cricket needs the WI back at the top of the ladder. There is talent there, a pity that the application is not there.

  • Saxo on October 27, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    What is this "enlightened despotism", you speak of Mr. Steen?

    The Windies of Lloyd/Richards were good, ruthless, and did whatever they had to do to win, including bouncing out tailenders. Memories fade, romantic notions take hold and writers wax eloquent, nostalgic B.S to fill column inches. Let's not forget - they won as they had the weapons to beat the opponents. Now, they have neither the talent nor the work ethic nor the desire to win. So, they are a mediocre team languishing near the bottom. These are the facts.

    So, once again, what is 'enlightened' about it?

  • PGW81 on October 27, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    What the WI of that era accomplished is much more than a slice of history. That they could enthrall audiences worldwide spoke volumes of how they played their cricket. They were sportsmen - I grew up hearing tales of how the great side unde Lloyd used to tour Chennai and how people from far off places used to queue up before dawn to watch the WI play in Chepauk - legend has it that Lloyd once hit a six out of the stadium and that it landed in a nearby canal - the West Indians of that era were passionate, commiited, respected their opponents and let their on-field performace speak. This article evokes a sense of nostalgia - the bygone era will never ever appear - the players need a sense of national pride and need to be competitive - they are a very talented bunch but without direction. They need to understand that the legacy which they have inherited is much more than history - its a piece of sporting glory - sack the players who are after money - hoping for a WI resurgence and revival

  • Biggus on October 27, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    I have to agree with Meety. It used to be that in Australia a visit by the Windies was awaited with the same anticipation as an Ashes series but the latest have been a tad ho-hum. Down under we've always admired their death-or-glory style and it's sad to see what has become of these wonderful entertainers. Whilst I intend no disrespect to other nations England are our traditional opponents and the Windies have to me always seemed like our natural opponents given their attacking style and strong pace attacks. Having said that, anyone who knows their cricket history understands that these things go in cycles-Australia have fallen from their recent omnipotent status too and England are only now finding their feet after a terrible trot. Like we say in OZ- "One day the rooster-the next the feather duster". I have no doubt that the Windies will rise again.

  • ricardowill on October 27, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    The problem with West Indies cricket started when England changed their policies with overseas players and County Cricket. The West Indies team in the 80's had a lot of experience playing County Cricket in good English weather conditions. Cricket provided a stable career for those cricketers and they benefited from the coaching they received in England.

    The players of today don't have the opportunities that were presented in the 80's. They get lucrative short term contract, but know training and their focus now is how quick they can make a buck.

    England played a big part in ruining West Indies Cricket.

  • on October 27, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    THE WEST INDIAN FLAIR,BRILIIANCE ON THE CRICKET MATCHES DURING THE 1970'S,1980'S, MID 1990'S IS TERRIBLY MISSING NOWADAYS..IN THE FAST BOWLING DEPARTMENT JERMAINE LAWSON,TINO BEST,PATTRICK PATTERSON,WINSTON BENJAMIN,KENNEY BENJAMIN,JEROME TAYLOR, DARREN POWELL, KEMAR ROACH, RAVI RAMPAUL,PEDRO COLLINS,MERVYN DILLON,ADAM SANFORD,CAMERON CUFFY THEY HAVE HAD POTENTIAL AND TALENT..BUT THEY NEVER WENT ON TO EMULATE JOEL GARNER,CURTLY AMROSE,COURTNEY WALSH,ROBERTS,MARSHALL,WES HALL,COLLIN CROFT IN TERMS OF CONSISTENCY OF PERFORMANCE..IN BATTING ALSO THE SARWANS,CHNADERPAULS,HOOPERS,ADAMS,GAYLES, WERE VERY GOOD , BUT LACKED CONSISTENCY TO BE IN RECKONING TO BE THE BEST...WE NEED WEST INDIES CRICKET TO COME BACK WITH A BANG...GO GO WEST INDIES...WE ARE WITH YOU..WE SUPPORT YOU FROM HEART AND SOUL..

  • Gizza on October 27, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    I was watching a documentary on the greatest Test Series of All Time (1960-61 tour of Aus by WI) and Richie Benaud seemed to suggest that had Frank Worrell's life not been tragically cut short, he could have later politically unite the entire English-speaking Caribbean into one country. Such was his charisma and influence.

  • on October 27, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    A game is played to derive annd give joy out of it. That is what the Widies of the 70's, 80's gave to cricket. There was unalloyed pleasure just watching these guys.

    True they put the fear of God while bowling but they raised the bar of batsmanship so high that we had a Gavaskar, a Viswanath, a Mohinder, a Greg Chapell, a Ian, a Walters, a Gower, a Gooch, a Lamb countering them and writing history on the stones with iron nails. These legacies are what we are proud of today.

    Take their batting that too threw up some of the finest pacers and spinners this world has seen Lille, Thommo, Hadlee, Kapil, Imran, Botham characters who went into immortality just challenging the great Windies team.

    That team is a water shed in the history of the game and today if cricket has this fearless and fast and furious approach history will tell that the cue was got from Lloyd, Richards, Haynes, Greenidge, Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Marshall and all those worthy men who wore those whites.

  • on October 27, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Cricket would not have been what it is but for the colour, gait, glamour and spirit those gents brought to the cricket field. Compare todays boisterous high fives this is a derivation from how the Windies team celebrated their moments, sometime today, it looks contrived while when we saw these gents doing it we could find spontainety.

    The laughter, mirth, chuckle all were real. Similarly when they were angry they were angry but they were never stupid to carry it beyond the cricket field and had their scores settled that day, that time, in the field itself.

    This is one of the key reasons they were able to perform continously and consistently that long. They were beyond animosity, grudges are for school kids and the not so confident types here were some class acts which stemmed from talent and pride.

    The cicketing and sporting world would have been poor but for these blokes who played for the pleasure of it and we were blessed to see and feel the joy.

  • Ozthewombat on October 27, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    I have always been a passioate Oz supporter, but I have always enjoyed watching all games of cricket none more so than test. When people talk about great teams and their dominance such as Bradman's Invincables, The Aussies under Waugh then Ponting there has never been anyteam to match the complete dominance and mystic that was the West Indies of the eighties and early nineties. Batsmen that would smash any bowling attack, a bowling attack that could intimidat and then destroy opposition batting. Yet they did this with a smile, sense of fun but with determination and fair play.It is a great shame that the current WI players don't play and view the game as their predecessers did.