West Indian Cricket: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

By The Sober Schoolboy

brian-laraBrian Lara. Nuff said.

The days of the West Indian cricket team sweeping teams away with ease have passed, but what we lost in quality has definitely been compensated for in entertainment.

Since my brain had developed enough to think and I started watching cricket with my Coco Pops in the morning, the West Indian side had become an interest of mine. I watched documentaries of Brian Lara’s first marathon innings and started asking my parents questions about Wavell Hinds batting average. Needless to say, I had to find it myself.

In some ways the equivalent of the French national rugby team, we have seen relative legends like Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo grace our television screens over the past ten years.

Chris-GayleCool as a cucumber mon.

Gayle alone has provided more entertainment than the entire New Zealand side in this period and they even managed to win two international tournaments (which more than the Proteas, England and New Zealand combined). The day that the Ridley Jacobs hit the winning runs against England in the 2004 Champions Trophy lives long in the memory and in a way epitomised the terrier attitude of the Caribbean team.

At 147- 8 chasing 217 the game looked lost, but the prize money was simply too much for them to give up, with the chase eventually being successful and another team of unlikely heroes being born. This sums up the mentality of their players and the ability they possess to produce when it really matters, in stark contrast to the South African team.

Many people harp on about the decline of West Indian cricket, which is an argument with merits, but really misses the point. The generation of Ambrose, Walsh and Marshall was something very special and doesn’t come around very often, similar to the recent Australian side.

viv-richardsSir Viv Richards doing what he did best.

Although the results aren’t always there, flashes of real brilliance have been present, be it a bowling spell by Fidel Edwards or a swashbuckling innings by Kieron Pollard. Another important factor would relate to the increasingly professional nature of cricket and the financial aspect.

The West Indian Cricket Board simply cannot compete with the likes of England and Australia when it comes to money, which means there are always payment disputes as well as tension over power relations.

Cricket is a colonial sport that at times can become tedious with a shitload of Andrew Strauss’ prancing around. Without the West Indies there would be a terrible imbalance in the game, owing to the annoying “gentleman’s game” cliché being thrown around far too often.

The Islanders have been bowled out for 45 a few times, but have also provided bored cricket watchers with more entertainment than most. Besides; would you rather interview with Marlon Samuels or Ian Bell?

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