The fall (and possible rise) of the West Indies

ICC World Cup 2019: Is a West Indies comeback in the making?
The fall (and possible rise) of the West Indies

ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS An ardent cricket fan in the 70s and 80s would never forget the mighty and ferocious West Indies team, which included legends like Clive Lloyd, Sir Vivian Richards, and the fearsome bowling quartet of Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Sir Andy Roberts. The name — West Indies — was enough to send shivers down the spine of other teams around the world.

Sadly, after that golden era, the West Indians never really regained their past glory. While world-class players like Brian Lara, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle emerged from the islands, they where not able to make their team a world-beating one again — at least, not in the ODI and test formats.

So, what caused the downfall of West Indies cricket? The answer has to do with T20 cricket, or rather, West Indies player’s success at it.

Many formidable names in the T20 format today come from the West Indies. The commercial aspect of the T20s made it popular, especially among the big-hitting West Indian players who liked the shorter format of the game.

It all started in 2009, when there was a pay dispute between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the players. It took a turn for the worse in 2010, when Gayle was unceremoniously sacked as the captain of the West Indies team and the reins were handed over to Darren Sammy. This didn't affect Gayle’s batting, though, as he went on to smash 333 against Sri Lanka in his first match after being sacked as the captain. It was his second triple century in Test cricket.

After the 2011 World Cup, Gayle was dropped from

the team because of a dispute he had with the board. He returned the next year.

In 2014, the players decided to pull out of the Indian tour because of a pay dispute between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) over a new agreement covering pay and conditions.

The new agreement was rejected by senior players like Dwayne Bravo, Sammy and others. They demanded the resignation of former WIPA chief Wavell Hinds, a former Test opener.

Many players were making more money playing in T20 leagues around the world like the IPL, Big Bash, PSL and BPL. Players like Gayle, Bravo, Sammy, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine preferring leagues over international cricket. They were dropped from the national side by the board and were replaced by younger, inexperienced players. This led to a decline in the quality of the side.

In 2015, an inexperienced Jason Holder was made the skipper. The next year, when the West Indies won the T20 World Cup, everyone thought that it would be the dawn of a new era in West Indian cricket. But the success was limited to T20 cricket. The West Indies have not won a single ODI series in the last four years. They couldn’t qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy. They even had to play the World Cup Qualifiers in 2018 to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

But, there have been encouraging signs of a resurgence. The West Indies team managed to defeat England in a Test match and also drew the ODI series, 2-2. The team had a record-breaking win over Ireland on May 7, scoring the highest-ever opening partnership in ODIs with 365 runs. However, the team did lose in their subsequent match against Bangladesh.

With new players like Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, John Campbell, Nicolas Pooran and Alzarri Joseph, the future looks promising for the West Indies. A new board has been elected recently, which has promised to work for the betterment of West Indies cricket.

Many cricket experts have already termed the West Indies the dark horse of the upcoming ICC World Cup. Only time will tell if they can live up to this tag.

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