What has happened to the Windies?
It’s a question that’s been asked so many times. The greatest team in the world for so long, and then the fastest fall from grace you will ever see. Good teams just don’t do that, do they? Even Australia, now struggling, and without its plethora of stars, still managed to only just lose to South Africa in the test series, and although beaten by India at home, certainly put up a fight. But the Windies, well they are just so awfully predictable in their unpredictableness. Although the problems the Windies have faced have been looked at from many different angles now is an interesting time to focus on their plight, particularly with what seems now to be another shift in power in the world of cricket.
Many see the 1995 Australian victory on West Indian soil as the turning point, the shift of power to the lads from Down Under. On this tour Australia’s new boys, including Glenn McGrath, Michael Slater and Shane Warne, took on the reigning champion Windies, still with the likes of Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose and a young Brian Lara. The Australians walked away with a 2-1 series victory, and from this point the Windies team went into freefall as the seemingly endless supply of superstars dried up. You see, since the start of their great period, the Windies just kept on being able to produce outstanding cricketers. For every Clive Lloyd that retired, there was a Viv Richards or Richie Richardson to take his place. For every Michael Holding that called it a day, there was a Courtney Walsh or Ian Bishop to take over the mantle. However, as players such as Ambrose, Walsh and Carl Hooper, finally retired, the Windies were left with Lara and not much else.
What was the cause of this? Many say that the lack of consistency between the various cricket associations in the region was a large factor. In Australia, players are part of a unified system, which starts with State Cricket, and then moves into a greater Australian squad, all governed by Cricket Australia. In the West Indies, this of course is not the case. Each ‘State’ is actually a different country, and they all have different wants and needs. There have consistently been issues with the West Indies in regards to certain, more powerful country’s being favoured, and thus players getting either dropped or picked not entirely on merit.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the Windies woes is the seemingly revolving door of their captaincy. Since Courtney Walsh gave up the mantle in 1998 no fewer than nine players have captained the side. Brian Lara captained in three separate periods. Jimmy Adams, Carl Hooper, Ridley Jacobs, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle have all had significant periods as Captain. Whilst Ronny Sarwan, Daren Ganga and Dwayne Bravo have served as stand-in’s. There is just no consistency.
Another clear example of the problems faced by West Indian cricket was evident last week at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. This ground, built for the World Cup, and named after perhaps their greatest ever cricketer, has been a complete mess from its inception. Last week play was abandoned in the second test versus England, when the ground was deemed unfit for play.
See Sir Ian Botham and Michael Holding’s response:
This ground was already a problem during Australia’s recent tour to the region, and a game was even affected during the very World Cup the ground was built for. This of course shows that the ground has always been a lemon, and that administrators had plenty of time to do something about it. However, nothing was done.
This of course comes on the back of a historic win by the Windies in Kingston, Jamaica. In the game the Windies skittled the Poms for 51, and many felt that this may be a turning point for the team. Watching the game, it felt like the Windies of old, as Taylor ripped through the England top order. However, as is always the case with West Indies cricket, all momentum was lost due to the absolute inability and lack of common sense of the administrators. Now, with the third test being played at a soccer pitch, the Windies are back to getting smashed by their opposition. Of course, barely any West Indian fans are even bothering to turn up, and the commentators have described the crowd as 90% English.
So, when asked the question, what has happened to West Indies cricket, you can answer this.
It has imploded. It still has a huge range of talented players that if given the support and structure, could go on and take back the reigns as a cricketing world power. But sadly this is not the case. Too often the team is affected by poor administrations, woeful training practices, and a seemingly defeatist attitude, which is the true cancer of any professional sporting side.
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