Ed Smith
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Former England, Kent and Middlesex batsman; writer for the New Statesman

Are West Indies bound upwards at last?

Asking them to regain the heights of the 1980s would be too much, but they can still be a force in international competition

Ed Smith

October 10, 2012

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

The fireworks start as West Indies get their hands on the prize, Sri Lanka v West Indies, final, World Twenty20, Colombo, October 7, 2012
The current West Indies side is possibly far enough removed from the glory days to not feel the pain of comparison © Getty Images
Related Links
Garth Wattley : Good times, but mind the road ahead
Players/Officials: Clive Lloyd | Sir Viv Richards
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Teams: West Indies

Anyone can discern the direction of travel. The challenge is to decipher whether it is a cycle or a trend. Will things naturally improve again, once the wheel begins to turn? Or is the decline structural, a trend that will lead inexorably downwards towards collapse, unless its course is radically changed? It is a central question. Before we can improve the situation, first we have to understand the nature of the problem.

In the case of West Indies cricket, the decline was beginning to look ominously like a trend rather than a cycle. Over the last ten years, West Indies have consistently languished at the bottom of the Test match rankings. West Indies cricket is much loved around the world - including by this column - but its fans struggled in vain for signs that this was just a passing phase rather than a permanent decline. Anyone who watched West Indies drift towards annihilation on the Test tour of England in 2009 could only conclude that the good old days of Caribbean cricket - of lithe but lethal fast bowling, of brutal but beautiful batsmanship, of languid and liquid fielding, and, above all, a sense of adventure and joyous self-expression - had gone forever.

It ran deeper than the mere on-field performances. The malaise seemed profound. There was a gloomy listlessness both on and off the field, a sense that there is something not right about the whole culture of West Indies cricket. I tried to follow the details of the recurrent disputes between the board and the players, but eventually they blurred into a general sense that there was far too much emphasis on money and not enough on cricket.

So last weekend's triumph by West Indies in the final of the World Twenty20 is, at the very least, a wonderful change to a losing pattern. It is the first West Indies tournament victory on the world stage since their relatively minor ODI tournament win in 2004 in England.

There were encouraging signs at every level - mystery spin, thrilling batting, and captaincy stamped with decency rather than self-interest. And the "reintegration" of Chris Gayle - to borrow a phrase that the ECB use about the return of Kevin Pietersen - has been made to work, however difficult it may have been to achieve. The rumblings of discord between players and management can still be heard in the near distance. But there is nothing like victory to heal old wounds and galvanise a sense of purpose.

But will the West Indian triumph as World T20 champions prove to be a watershed or just a false dawn?

Perhaps we need a little history to place modern West Indies cricket in context. The West Indian teams of the '70s, '80s and early '90s were not just unusually successful. That cricketing dynasty may well have been the greatest international sports team - forget just cricket - ever to take the field. As Michael Holding argued in the film Fire in Babylon: "No other sporting team in any discipline anywhere in the world dominated their sport for 15 years." Holding is a famously modest man with no need to brag about anything. He was just telling the plain truth.

West Indies should no longer be judged by the standards of the previous generation. Crucially, renewal and revival are sometimes easier when you are free from the burden of expectation

And it wasn't just a case of eleven brilliant individuals. The most extraordinary feature of those West Indian teams was their strength in depth. Indeed, sometimes a single island boasted more fast bowling talent than the rest of the world put together. In 1984, Wayne Daniel, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall played the lead role in bowling out Australia. At the same time, on the highly controversial "rebel" West Indian tour of South Africa, Sylvester Clarke, Franklyn Stephenson, Hartley Alleyne and Ezra Moseley bowled out South Africa. All eight fast bowlers weren't just West Indian, they were all from Barbados. One small island could have taken on any team in the world.

So how could a collection of tiny islands in the Caribbean - bound together only vaguely, by geography, a shared university and a single cricket team - dominate a world sport so completely?

The glory days of West Indian cricket benefited from a perfect-storm situation. The formidable standard of club cricket - so memorably described in CLR James' Beyond a Boundary - produced a steady stream of hardened cricketers. The national team also benefited from the looseness of the concept of "nation" itself: West Indians only come together to play cricket. That inter-island rivalry created fierce competition. Speaking to Viv Richards this summer, I was struck by how vividly he described the rivalries within domestic cricket when he was a young player.

And then, of course, there was the much deeper question of the team having a point to prove. Fire In Babylon argues that the racial dimension, the sense that the teams of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards embodied the struggle of a whole people against colonial oppression, was a central explanation of West Indian success. All these threads - some explicit, some mysterious - were woven together by the leadership of Lloyd and then Richards.

But a perfect storm cannot strike twice. West Indies have to accept that whatever the future looks like, they are highly unlikely to emulate the astonishing dominance of the 1980s. That is not a lack of ambition; it is realism. West Indies can still be a real force in international cricket. But they should no longer be judged by the standards of the previous generation. Crucially, renewal and revival are sometimes easier when you are free from the burden of expectation. Perhaps this West Indies team is finally sufficiently far removed from the glory days to not feel the pain of comparison.

The world game, not just the Caribbean islands, raised a glass to the new T20 world champions. It is wonderful to see them back at top table. We still can't be sure whether this is just a cycle or a real trend. But we at least know that the direction of travel, at long last, is upwards.

Former England, Kent and Middlesex batsman Ed Smith's new book, Luck - What It Means and Why It Matters, is out now. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by   on (October 12, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

Dhoni won T20 in 2007 and One day world cup 2011. But the core of the team was different except for one man Yuvraj.WI should identify that core which will take them to 2015.For test cricket they have to make a good bowling attack .I frankly see Sunil Narine as a long term stuff.Mystery spinners once sorted out can be handled.They need a good pacy attack.Windies pitches must be made responsive.Then they have in it I guess.

Posted by yocasi on (October 11, 2012, 23:38 GMT)

Lazytrini, you hit the nail on the head. Here in Grenada, even an all boys' secondary school with 800 students struggles to field a cricket team. Cricket in particular and sports in general simply hold no interest for most young men. I tried all I could to get my 2 teenage sons to play cricket but they just aren't interested. In contrast, as an 11 yr old, I saved my bus and pocket money for a whole term so that I could buy a pair of cricket pads. Let's hope that by winning again, a few boys will be attracted to the game.

Posted by   on (October 11, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

I do not really rate T20 as Cricket. So though it was awesome that they won the WC for their long suffering fans it does not really point to progress. All it does point too is the the Regional is full of T20 specialists.

In real Cricket- Tests, they have improved the feel in the group bonded as a tight knit unit because of the strong principled leadership of Sammy, but are bereft of real class

Especially in their batting where only Gayle, Samuels and Shiv are the only who are Test class with the rest bordering from average to diabolical. Darren Bravo needs to be in the Team at 5 with Samuels batting at 3.Their bowling is quite good to balance this out.

Crucially they need to resist the temptation to bring back tried and true failures like Sarwan who would be a bad influence in the group with his lazy and lapse attitude

Posted by   on (October 11, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

One of the main problems with cricket in the West Indies is the first class season which is weak. The structure of West Indies cricket has to change if we are going to be a force in world cricket again.

Posted by Sinhaya on (October 11, 2012, 13:07 GMT)

I strongly reckon that West Indies at their prime were a better test team than the Aussies from 1999 to 2008. Why? West Indies never lost a test series from 1980 to 1995 both home and away, but Aussies lost test series in India in 2001, Ashes in England in 2005. West Indies kept on winning against the Aussies in the 1980s. Looking at the 1960s and 70s, Australia, West Indies and England were equal.

Posted by lazytrini on (October 11, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

Just one minor comment. I constantly, to the point of my irritation, see the observation made that one of the reasons WI youth have moved away from playing or having an interest in cricket is because of basketball. I can't speak for the majority of the islands, but mainstream, ground-level interest in basketball in TT is small enough to be non-existent. At various times, (MJ-era, Shaq-Kobe era) there has been some hype about watching/following the sport, but while you'll hear of TT sporting professionals in golf, football etc, you can't name one notable TT basketball player, because not many play the game. Other than JA, none of the islands have produced a notable BBall name. Point being, there may be a lot of reasons for the spectacular decline of WI cricket, but let's be realistic more about them. In TT there are prob more youths involved in crime and delinquency than in Bball and many more just not playing a sport at all. Turn your sights on the right targets to be taken seriously.

Posted by davidlister on (October 11, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

Surely the T20 World Cup 2012 represented a mini-perfect storm for the West Indies, combining as it did the following elements: The team had pretty much its best available eleven out- something that has happened rarely with recent West Indian international cricket sides; there was motivation in the glory of winning a world cup; and the form of the game was the one preferred by many/most of the West Indian team. Add to this the fact that results in this form of the game are in such great proportion chance-determined and I would suggest we should be very cautious about reading a lot into the victory regarding a general upward trend in West Indian cricket.

Posted by Selassie-I on (October 11, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

I think how the tournament win will benefit West indies is that,hopefully, it should encourage more of the young sportsmen to take up cricket rather than Basketball or sprinting.. that's what has changed more than anything, more and more young athletes in the Caribbean are influenced by popular American culture and are looking to become a basketball player, sprinter etc. rather than a test bowler or batsman, you can only pick from the talent pool available and if all the talent decides to play another sport due to a lack in popularity of cricket then you can't pick who could potentially been the best players. I think this is the real question - will this incresae the popularity of cricket again in the islands? The other thing they gain of course - belief that they can win, losing is a hard habbit to break.

Posted by Timmuh on (October 11, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

How can anyone judge anything by T20? It has almost nothing to do with theonly cricket by which international teams and players can be judged. Are the West Indies going to improve? We can only hope so, and if they can get their best team together more often thn once every few years they should do. T20 form does not mount a case for anything except T20.

Posted by davidlister on (October 11, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Surely the T20 World Cup 2012 represented a mini-perfect storm for the West Indies, combining as it did the following elements: The team had pretty much its best available eleven out- something that has happened rarely with recent West Indian international cricket sides; there was motivation in the glory of winning a world cup; and the form of the game was the one preferred one for many/most of the players. Add to this the fact that results in this form of the game are in such great proportion chance-determined and I would suggest we should be very cautious about reading a lot into the victory regarding a general upward trend in West Indian cricket.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (October 11, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

It is surprising to read some comments suggesting that T20 is the only version that West Indies can excel in. They probably do not know that cricketers from the Carribean islands used to instil fear in bowlers and batsman alike with their unbelievable cricketing prowess. Or maybe they have forgotten because of the way this team has struggled at the bottom half of the rankings over the last decade or so. From their A team performances and with peace having been restored with their superstars, I have no doubt at all that this team will be No 1 in all formats of cricket. They have Gayle,the Bravo brothers,and Roach with several others waiting to blow everyone away and of course Narine and several other mystery spinners waiting on the bench.So let us not be fooled into thinking that West Indies is not serious about cricket and that they would much rather emulate the gangnam style. Fot too long have they been denied.Now is the time and the world should be ready.

Posted by Sinhaya on (October 11, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

I think young batters like Braithwate, Kieron Powell along with bowlers like Roach and Narine are great signs for the future. But for test success you must have the can do belief, which I feel Windies lacks. But anyway as per the ICC FTP, no test match for Windies against the top 4 sides scheduled even for next year. Seems they may have to wait till 2014 before getting a test series with a top ranked team.

Posted by Sinhaya on (October 11, 2012, 3:18 GMT)

I think West Indies can also excel in the 50 over formats but not really in tests. They may start winning test matches at home, but test match wins away or even test series wins away is not likely in the near future. But as a man who truly adores Windies I hope West Indies starts to win test matches at both home and away. Main flaw with West Indies in test matches recently has been how they got a 1st innings lead and later squander it. Good examples are the test match in Delhi last year against India and the test match against the Aussies in Barbados this year. Also, dropping catches have also cost Windies test matches quite a lot like in last year in Kingston, Sammy dropping Dravid's catch and also Sammy dropping Watson's catch this year in Barbados resulted in Windies losing test matches which they should have won.

Posted by amieka on (October 11, 2012, 2:05 GMT)

WI cricket is a brand, which for the benefit of Cricket, needs to find his past glory. However, with this current bowling and batsman who can only hit few sixes, only someone with wildest dream would think that they are back. Have the play some test and one days even against minos, it will be tears in the fans for die hard WI fan like myself.

Posted by Reggaecricket on (October 10, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

The Premadasa is famous as a wicket that strongly favours the side batting first. I knew at the toss that the West Indies had won 75% of the cup without even facing a ball. Had the Aussies and Sri Lanka won the toss, I am sure it would be Sri Lanka or Australia dancing the gandum style these days!

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 23:23 GMT)

You've got to be kidding, Ed Smith. The West Indies win an arbitrary hit-and-giggle tournament, and you start comparing them with the great West Indies teams of the 1980s. 20/20 is closer to baseball (in particular, the Home Run Derby) than real cricket.

I don't see the West Indies even regaining anywhere near the levels of the 80s teams. They'll always be vying with the likes of New Zealand and Bangladesh for 7th spot on the test rankings, and often slipping below the two of them. This is even when they have full-strength teams, which will be rare as some of their top players (Chris Gayle especially) seem too selfish and/or lazy to want to play test cricket.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

Congratulations, West Indies! I hope this victory will inspire future WI cricketers to those dominant days of Viv Richards and Michael Holding. Best wishes from Sri Lanka.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

i think 20/20 is a game where west indies should succeed as they are naturally big hitters and it does not require the dicispline of test cricket. that said darren sammy has been proven to be a good test captain and w.i are being rapidly more competitive in test cricket. if Gayle can be "reintergrated" into test match cricket as well w.i could challenge the top teams especially at home and if they prepare pitches to suit their fast bowlers & spinners not the batsmen. i wish i had seen samuels innings sounds like a classic.Good on west indies for their victory and they should aim for the 2015 world cup.

Posted by mikey76 on (October 10, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

They need to produce fast bouncy wickets again in the Caribbean, and make it a place touring teams fear like they did in the old days. At the moment the wickets resemble the ones in India, if Gayle, Samuels, Sarwan and C'paul bat together with Bravo they have a pretty good batting line up.

Posted by Fareen on (October 10, 2012, 22:00 GMT)

I don't think so. Most of their key players are self-centered and selfish and I'm sure they won't come forward and play test cricket when there are T-20 tournaments going. The likes of Pollard, Dwayne Bravo & Narine have already proved that. But with players like Samuels and Darren Bravo & experienced guys like Chanderpaul & hopefully Sarwan, they can be dangerous for top class sides like SA & Australia.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (October 10, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

The main reasons they will never emulate their performances of the 1970s & 1980s is that today bouncers are restricted,batsmen have helmets & batsmen are more assured in their ability to hook or pull.They now have huge bats though.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 20:01 GMT)

I just hope that this sets in motion a trend of things to come. For the betterment of the game, we want all the teams to get better to make the sport more competitive. It surely does not help if one team is doing well and others are languishing way behind. The inclusion of Chris Gayle is a big boost especially in T20 format. However, if they want to forge ahead and make this vistory count, they must do well in test matches. In order to achieve that they should produce good fast bowlers (historically they had an abundant supply of fast bowlers who seemed to have become an endangered species in recent times) and better wickets. The wickets in the Caribbean islands have a lot to desire for. The cricketing world would be a far more exciting place if we can revive the West Indian flair and aggression. All the best WI!!

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (October 10, 2012, 20:01 GMT)

It is good for world cricket for WI to win t20 WC and it will be even better when they start winning elsewhere too,so long as it isn't my team!! I suspect that is true of most neutrals. Every country has its own culture and the flamboyant batting and extreme pace make WI the most watchable of all the teams when playing well, though if they progress upwards now I suspect that spin may also be a very important ingredient. Narine is very special, I think. Almost as importantly they are a party culture and love to express a zest and joy for life, which is infectious. I love that. Anyway this present side has good things about it, not least that their lower order is not collapsing like a pack of cards but has a determination to do well as scores for Sammy, Ramdin and Best showed in England. sammy may not be the best player but he seems to have an ability to lead which is precious.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

Ed very much agree with you on the one big unifying force Lloyd's magnificent Babylon era was the ever persistent racism a black man experienced worldwide, and particularly personified by the apartheid regime in South African. Cannot imagine in today's world a young IVA Richards walking up to the crease with such determination and pride of his race as was back then.

Posted by SwingandSeam on (October 10, 2012, 19:35 GMT)

The Windies have some very good youngsters coming through the ranks in Delorn Johnson, Shannon Garbriel and others who can support Roach and Narine. They possibly need another opener, but the rest of the first choice batsemn are pretty decent. They are not far away from having a competitive Test side that can take on the best.

Posted by ShivaCT on (October 10, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

I am from India but am a huge fan of West Indies cricket. It was a great feeling to see them win the World T20 Championships and to finally (and again) get to refer to the West Indies as World Champions again. You have to take tiny steps towards reaching your goal and, assuming WI Cricket want to make it back to the top of the Test rankings, this is a good, positive first step. It should give them a lot of confidence. T20 is vastly different from ODI's and, of course, Tests, but you would hope (and pray) that the confidence of this win will translate into better things for WI Cricket.

Posted by bumsonseats on (October 10, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

with the batters and bowlers they have now they have no chance in tests unless they now go to spinning tracks in the WIs. what they have done in T20 they should have been doing since T20 format started. there problem in tests is most try playing that as a T20 format. they should also remember but for the spin of a coin it would have been SL.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

We Bangladeshis are eagerly waiting for the T20 World Champions West Indies to tour Bangladesh in November!

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 17:28 GMT)

You make some really good observations in this article Ed. Maybe this was the catalyst WI needed to reinstate some of that feel good factor and dominance they held in the 80's. Ultimately though, time will be the true indicator of whether the revival of WI cricket is for real or just an adrenalin rush!

I think over the course of the next few months they will asses what's worked for them and I think their coaching staff are astute enough not to mess with a winning formula (after all you have to give them credit for bringing Chris Gayle back and getting him playing to his fine form). Who knows, with England, South Africa failing at the group stages and the likes of Australia being absolutely out-classed, then maybe future tournaments will be a two or three horse race, with the WI favourite because of their spirit of fun and togetherness. That is if they can keep their star players fit and healthy of course!

Posted by Engee on (October 10, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

Enjoyed the article. We all love to see a Windies revival, but realistically it's hard to achieve in the test arena, but there is no reason why they can't do well in the two short formats. Thanks to American TV, cricket has been torpedoed by basket ball and other favorite American pastimes.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 16:23 GMT)

Winning a T20 tournament has nothing to do with success in test cricket, the ultimate form of the game. WI still have a lot of things to improve if they want to become a strong force in world cricket again. They can become a very decent side in ODIs with the likes of Gayle, Samuels, Chanders, the 2 Bravos and Narine, but I don't see this team doing anything extraordinary in test cricket. They do not have a match-winning fast bowler; Edwards, Roach and Rampaul are not good enough. Narine hasn't proven himself in the longer version yet.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 16:18 GMT)

Winning a T20 competition is one thing, climbing the steps of Test cricket is a completely different ball game. Raw talent is not enough, you need good infrastructure put in place at all levels. With this current squad only Gayle and Chandra are consistent world class performers as test level. Samules needs is nearly there but needs to carry one for another 12-18 months to be put in that bracket. Darren Bravo and Narine have the potential to get there. The other Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, etc will never be good enough for test cricket as they are neither good enough to command a spot in one discipline - afraid cannot hide in test cricket being just nearly good enough with bat or bowl. Fast bowling stock - again same problem with no genuine class pacers nor any good prospect in the near horizon.

Sad... cuz we would all love a West Indian revival at all levels and for me especially in Test Crikkeet mann!...

Posted by proteasfan99 on (October 10, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

Where is Jerome Taylor?? He was no doubt a class act and I wonder what happened to him. Kemar Roach is fast and needs to be natured but he can be a dangerous customer for many batsmen in the world. Dwayne Bravo needs to settle down. I believe he is more than a bits and pieces player. Watson started liked most of these West Indies all rounders who are consrdered bits and pieces players at the moment. I honestly think they should be encouraged to work harder and take test cricket more serioulsy. Samuels and Gayle have shown on their return that nothing is impossible if you want it. They can do it if they want to but they have a long way to reach the test hieghts of the South African test team. But they can start by doing the basics and competing in the shorter formats and fighting it out in the longer.

Posted by GREIGGSMAN on (October 10, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

I will begin by saying that OUR BEST DAYS AS ARE AHEAD OF US! Since the last tour of India- though we lost badly I kept thinking that we have everything...minus tearaway fast bowling...to not only win, but dominate! In Fire In Babylon DM said "we are setting standards for future WI... well he was right. But I believe that those standards are there for future WI Teams to aspire too but also to set there own. Had WI lose on Sunday I would still be saying We are on our way to something Great.. and dreaming its GREATER THAN LLOYD VIV ERA!

Posted by PadMarley on (October 10, 2012, 15:24 GMT)

I'm not sure if this team by itself is capable to take cricket to another level. But for sure the it would create a cultural momentum that more young people will take up cricket. The final of T20 2012, was decided by only two people, that was Samuals and Malinga. Whatever happend between two of them was the decider! But it was very clear how badly the batsmen were struggling against some quality , disciplined spin bowling... even quality medium phase bowling... So rathe not get carried away about this team..... but we all wanna see new talents coming up from West Indies... for god sake get some awesome fast bowlers... yes Narine is good.... but thats not what i wanna see from Windies... give bowlers like Marshal, Walsh, Garner, Ambrose, Holdings!!! no other nation can produce them!!

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

Real test begin West Indies play Test Matches. West Indies has a very good batting line up. They need an opener to partner Chris Gayle in Test Matches, after that there is highly talented Darren Bravo, ever so dependable Chanderpaul and muti skilled and multi-tasked Dwayne Bravo. If they can bring back Ramnaresh Sarwan back into the fold, the duo of Samuels and Sarwan could be consistent and destructive for opposing bowlers. But they seriously need to look into Andre Russell and their talented young leg spinner. Sunil Narine should not be in test matches.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

A T20 championship victory doesn't really reveal anything. In that format, there is little difference between a 'good' team (which all the teams in the tournaments are expected to be) and a 'great' team (which the champion is expected to be). On any given day, any team can win, which is not the case in Tests or even ODIs. So there's no point in making a fuss over this WI team, which is essentially Chris Gayle plus ten club cricketers. Still, I'm glad they won, and I'm happy for Darren Sammy: a much mocked but honest, modest man who has earned some recognition.

Posted by Guvapatch on (October 10, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

Smithy, you have left out the most important reason for the WI dominance; and it's this all those players from the early days(e.g. Sir Leary ) to Viv and Sobers played hundreds of games in English county cricket. And when that was purposely stopped, the WI dominance did.

Posted by stormy16 on (October 10, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

I think its unfair to compare the success of the WI to the Windies of the 80's. As its well documented that was a 'dream team' or a once in a life time team. To assess if the Windies are back it to ask the questions - are they competitive? Having just beaten NZ in a home test series is the first answer to that question. The next is do they have match winners? Gayle, Bravo's X 2, Nariane, Rampaul, Samuels I think form a core winning combination capable of getting runs and wickets. They are also backed by useful players and alot of young talent. Dont think we have seen the best of Andrea Russel yet and there are a few spinners tucked away too. There is also the case of Chanders the worlds number 1 batsman not too long ago that adds to this team. I dont know what happened to Sarwan but the point is the Windies are back - to being competitive and things can only get better from here on I hope.

Posted by Toescrusher on (October 10, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

They won T20 WC but they are no way near to the level of determinations of the West Indies of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and the 90s. Serious work is required on this team to achieve the level of determination of the past.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

WI in 80s had great athletes and great team spirit and great work ethic for cricket. They benefitted from having England as second home as most cricketers played full county seasons. This generation is benefitting from IPL and big Bash exposures and getting them on T20 stage and thats why so successful. ODIs and Tests will be diff matter all together.

Posted by Simon2604 on (October 10, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

Good article, Mr Smith, and some good comments too.

However, I don't think anyone's yet touched on what I consider to be the greatest untapped resource currently available to sports teams, and that is to insert the idea into the minds of the team members that all the praise and adulation they get for individual moments of glory is made of clinker, and that if they want to be really considered to be worthwhile people, they need to subordinate personal performance to what is most likely to be best for the interests of their team. This change of mindset will be quite difficult to achieve, since everything in the modern world is pushing against it, but if it CAN be achieved, it will be seen to be what modern teams have been missing for quite some time.

Posted by USIndianFan on (October 10, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

This WIndies team is Sammy's team. He and the coach, irrespective of the comments of others have knit it together. Over the years other have tried, but watching them from afar, it seemed like too much infighting and lack of leadership.

Now that they have won, it remains to be seen whether the leadership and Sammy's role will be retained. I believe that this team has the opportunity to be a world leader for a while - the next 2-3 years at least. They have the players, and the hunger. The other teams are rebuilding - India, Pakistan, Australia, NZ, England, SL. The opportunity is there.

Whether they can retain the team spirit and focus is to be seen.

Posted by Vindaliew on (October 10, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

Some people also attribute the West Indian decline to the rise of basketball. Basketball pays better, and while in the old days every kid wanted to be Clive Lloyd or Garry Sobers, these days the average West Indian child looks to the basketball players for inspiration. That also spills over to the black children in England (many of whom have West Indian roots), when in the 80s and 90s, there was no shortage of black players in the England team. In the 2000s, England has rarely fielded a black player, and even in county cricket you could hardly find a black player of note (Carberry is the only one who comes to mind), and they've been replaced by the ethnic Indian and Pakistani British. In that sense hopefully the T20 victory will rekindle the dreams of the West Indian youth, both in the West Indies and in England, and encourage them that there is another sport in which they can still be competitive internationally and be proud of.

Posted by OmanBiek on (October 10, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

All you guys need to be here to see waht we see. There are little guys at age 16 - 18 who are in training bowling balls consistently at 90mph. There are young batters who seem want to do nothing more than emulate Chanders and Gayle...the WI are back in a big way. For the past 3 years or so we have been increasingly heartened by the signs in the youth teams. These guys are going to come through in the next 5 years or so. Darren Bravo, Barath, Powell and Narine are just the start...WI are back - the entire Caribbean knows this. This win was not a flash in the pan...even if the guys didnt win this game the message would still be the same..WI are looking to beat the world again!

Posted by arup_g on (October 10, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

West Indies have a very long way to go before they can consider themselves truly back! They have a good team yes, but mainly focusing on t20, and to a certain extent ODIs. Their team is not cut out for test cricket against the best teams. They can certainly become a constant force in limited overs, but must continue to bring in young players, the likes of Narine, Charles, Badree, Pollard and co. Also, in order to compete around the world, they need fast bowlers - bring back the Garners, Holdings, Marshals, Halls, Ambroses and Walshs - TALL and FAST! West Indies have not produced a TALL and FAST bowler for a very long time. Tell them to stop playing basketball and do something for their country. Also the seems to be no real talented batsmen coming through like Lara, Sarwan, Chanderpaul or Gayle. Darren Bravo seems the only hope at the moment, but isn't talented enough to do it alone i.e. Lara Esq!

Posted by Yagga175 on (October 10, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

I think that there is one other key ingredient to West Indian success from the late 1970s onwards that Ed in his otherwise excellent atricle overlooks - World Series Cricket. Let's be clear, West Indies struggled to win a test series in the early 70s, were drubbed in Australia in 75/76 (their failings and those of Lloyd laid bare in Henry Blofeld's gimlet-eyed and forensic analysis in the 1977 Wisden) and won at home against both India and Pakistan by the odd test. Even the 1976 win in England was initially closer fought than is remembered. The first year of WSC was not a great success and it was, as the Fire in Babylon doco makes clear, the tongue-lashing that they got from Packer after another lethargic performance that was the catalyst for the change. It was not enough to be gifted, to play, as they had one in Australia in 75/76, the scintillating cameo: Packer's brutal busienss reality laid bare the fact that if you take the money you have to perform. They never looked back.

Posted by megabala123 on (October 10, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

I agree that one win cannot change the fortunes of a team. Also that test and ODI are different from T20. But wanna say a few things which i feel are positive signs for the windies 1) This was the first tournament after 1996 world cup where windies were considered favourites (in fact strong favorites) 2) At least in one format they have given their ever loyal fans - moments to rejoice 3) They are getting together as a team much well than before. 4) They are having an impact in test matches even against teams like england unlike a clear whitewash So they should be appreciated and allowed to enjoy the laurels :) And they need strong steps to keep increasing the curve. I hope it happens. A DIE HARD WEST INDIAN FAN since 1996 !

Posted by ivktyr on (October 10, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

While it would be great to see WI improving it really doesn't look very hopeful. The WI teams of the 70s and 80s had match winners all through the team if the batting failed (very rare) the bowlers could get them back into the game, if the bowlers failed (again very rare) the batsmen could get them back. There were no real weak links (except possibly the spinners (who were very rarely needed). The current WI team has one or two match winners but if they fail.... It would have been very interesting to see the 70s and 80s team playing 20/20 Imagine the destruction Haynes, Greenidge, Richards and Lloyd would have caused

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

I'm a fan of Windies cricket and loved Fire In Babylon but i thought this when watching the film too, the line "No other sporting team in any discipline anywhere in the world dominated their sport for 15 years." - Australia did this in cricket alone.

Still, i get the point and agree with the article, just wanted to sort of the picking of them there nits. Come WI, test cricket needs you now more than ever.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (October 10, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

Nope ,they are in the down ward slope if you don't consider their standard of mediocrity . Just go check the rankings . It's OK beating minnows in world cups but you don't get Afghans and Ireland playing you always.It's different when facing the top teams ,eg.- The thrashing they (WI) received from the Aussies in their last home series in all forms.A single cup win doesn't change anything,does it?

Posted by MJ1234 on (October 10, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

Surprisingly the Windies have started relying on spin more than pace these days. Even the WI wickets are more spinner friendly than pace friendly. Narine, Samuels and Badree can count among the best in the world. But barring Rampaul, their pace cupboard looks sparse. Unless they pay attention to their core strength, they will be found wanting in the pacy wickets of Aus. and SA.

Posted by nareshgb1 on (October 10, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

they have a couple of guys who are monsters of this format (Gayle, Pollard) and at least one good spinner(Narain) and some handy all rounders. IN test matches, they will struggle to maintain intensity after 3 hours (even though Roach is a world class bowler and Gayle has his days). In ODIs, they will say "wtf am I stil doing here" after the 2nd game of any series. Still, I never stopped liking them - except when Merv Dillon was "spearhead".

Posted by ovzdatta151 on (October 10, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

T20 format is very different from other formats of Cricket. I am not taking any credit away from WI team's terrific victory but playing test matches and ODI is a different cup of tea. They have won Champions Trophy in 2004 but there performance in test arena wasn't great enough. T20 format is such that probability of winning matches are much higher for non test playing nation too. Even Scotland, Ireland, Dutch, Afghanistan etc they can think of winning matches in T20 format rather then in ODI and Test matches. In T20 if its your day even for a while it will make lot of difference but not in Test match or ODI....

Posted by Faridoon on (October 10, 2012, 6:17 GMT)

I worry for these Windies boys. It was thoroughly entertaining and refreshing to see a team really cut loose in their celebrations.

However, the excessive celebrations, although richly deserved, aer hopefully not tinged with feelings of "Who knows when we will ever win again, lets celebrate the life out of this one". Because if that is the mindset then this victory will become a sole one for many years to come. I hope they got up from their stupor and asked "what's the next assignment, coach?".

Posted by Udendra on (October 10, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

just one win in the final, wouldnt prove anything.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

"No other sporting team in any discipline anywhere in the world dominated their sport for 15 years."

Agree that Mikey Holding is a modest man, without a need to brag. But perhaps he hasn't heard of the Indian hockey team from the early part of the century. All six Olympics gold medals between 1928 and 1956. How's that for dominance?

Posted by Thomas_George on (October 10, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

I believe that they can be as powerful as previous generations, if they put their mind to it. These days it is harder because of the amount of cricket played.

Posted by MinusZero on (October 10, 2012, 4:20 GMT)

I hope they are on the up, but where are the Ambroses, Walshes and Bishops? This type of bowler is what made them a force.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

While the victory in the recent T20 tournament was commendable, ther team yet has inherent weaknesses against spin and fragility in the batting. THis is agoodstep to give them confidence to buiild for the future!

Posted by Mel-waas on (October 10, 2012, 3:57 GMT)

West Indies were a favorite from the start of the tournament. Due to Players like Gayle, Pollard, Narine. T20 matches can be easily won by individual performances unlike tests where the whole team needs to play good. I won't be too optimistic about West Indian Test cricket yet. Seriously this is no Renaissance for the Windies.

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