They are the kings who lost the kingdom. They literally ruled the game for a good 2 decades and a bit more. They were the team which everyone feared. No one in their wildest imaginations could have imagined the fate the West Indies cricket team has met. From being world beaters once, now they are struggling to find a place even among the top 5 teams. Nothing could portray their situation more clearly than that they had to play matches against minnows to qualify for the recently held champion’s trophy in India.
West Indies, though not a single country, but a group of island countries unites to play cricket under a single cricket board. They produced, perhaps the most entertaining cricketers the world had ever seen. They enjoyed their cricket and were the most sought after players then.
They had an excellent blend of good, tear away fast bowlers and world class batsmen, a rare one. The bowlers were mean and gave nightmares to most batsmen of their times.
In the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, west indies has produced one of the best fast bowlers.
Their batting was as good if not better than their bowling. Viv Richards was a legend, not only for the runs he scored but the manner in which he scored them. He was always up in arms, ready to face any bowler and was arrogant in the way he scored his runs. The way he walks out on the ground nonchalantly chewing a gum, irrespective of the state of the match, is a picture. West Indies had an inspirational captain in Clive Lloyd who led by example.
But even before their time was another legend Sir Garfield sobers, who defined the meaning of an all-rounder. He was a world class batsman and held the record for most runs scored in a test innings for a long time before a fellow west Indian brian charles lara broke his record. He was also a good bowler who was more than useful with the ball. The only guy who has come close to matching his all-round skills is Jacques Kallis of South Africa. Lara is another West Indian great. He twice broke the record of most runs scored in a test innings. But unfortunately he played at a time when West Indies was at its lowest ebb and often his efforts were in a losing cause.
They literally rode over every opponent on their way to win two consecutive world cup titles in 1975 and 1979. They lost to India in the finals of the 1983 world cup but still continued their dominance. Their decline started in the early 90’s and has continued ever after. Apart from a few glimpses, they have never looked even a shadow of their glorious past. Their decline is attributed to various factors like youth becoming interested in other sports like basket ball and poor management of the cricket board. Spats between players and the board have not helped their cause.
A good West Indies team is what world cricket is badly in need of. With brian lara having retired, the task of rebuilding is not going to be easy, but with the captaincy being handed over to young and reliable sarwan things can hopefully have a look up for West Indies.