The Saga of West Indies Cricket: From Heady Flames to Subdued Embers

Blog by: Roh

England v West Indies - NatWest International Twenty20 Match

The unusually protracted Ashes series brought forth plenty of reactions and comments about the mediocrity of the Australian cricket team. Their inability to regroup mentally emerged as their fatal flaw speaking of a harsher truth than the more visible inability of some of their players to step up on the pitch. Just as the Australians facing this sudden predicament of inadequacy presently, West Indian cricket too has been trying to grapple with a similar sense of insufficiency that has long dogged them, over-writing the story of their glorious cricketing past.

It’s been years – decades to be more accurate – that one has actually seen West Indies play cricket the way they did between the 70s and the early 90s. And those who have actually seen the West Indies in their heydays belong to a past generation like the players themselves. For most of the contemporary generation of the sport’s ardent followers and fans, West Indies cricket today is symbolised by the few names that keep dotting the score-cards. But even these names fall short when laid parallel to the legends that symbolised the very best of the sport.

Not of any fault or shortcoming of their own though. But rather, despite all their talents and cricketing skills put together. The West Indian team today struggles to find its balance, swinging from one extreme to another, taking fans to the heights of optimism before plunging it to the very depths of despair and despondency. To say then that they are unpredictable would be an understatement because in these extreme vacillations, the West Indies cricket team displays a singular brand of predictability.

And here’s where the blame game starts to pour forth in a torrent. About the bleak downturn that the West Indian cricket board has been subjected to – and the lack of interests among the cricketers towards their past mainstays – test and ODIs – thanks to the interference by the monetarily endowed league tournaments that end up highlighting the fancier versions of the sport. These points, however valid they might be then only present one-sidedness to the sad tale of the West Indian cricketing realm rather than pinpoint the core problematic areas that mar it.

It’s no secret that the present cricketing era is one where money speaks for the sport prominently before anything and everything else. Add to the mix, the nature of popularity that events like the IPL and the Champions League T20 bring in, it’s not difficult to comprehend why players would be motivated to be a part of such money-making conduits. To cast the blame onto the players for their so-called disinterest to play the comparatively longer formats of the game is thoroughly unjustified. In contrast, it would be necessary for the West Indian cricketing authorities to introspect as to the measures taken by them to ensure the bolstering and sustenance of test and ODI cricket in the archipelago.

For even though aspersions may be cast about the aspect of mediocrity of the West Indian cricketing standards, it cannot be denied that cricket still remains – by far – one of the most popular sports in the island still captivating the fans in droves as it used to in the past. It is to these fans too then that the West Indian cricketing authorities owes a certain responsibility to.

The launching and the success of the Caribbean Premier League is then testimony to the fact that even West Indies can come up with a riposting ‘premier’ T20 league tournament attracting some of the star T20 players from across the cricketing world. Employing a similar bent of focus and attention would then go a long way in helping West Indian cricket restore its long-lost test and ODI transcendence.

For, even as big a curse mediocrity maybe upon the sporting realm – especially if the audiences are treated to excellence from the participants consistently for over a continued period of time – it isn’t necessary that it should prevail for ever; obscuring everything bright by casting its shadow.

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