As the West Indies crashed out of this edition of the World Cup I once again felt remorse and sad. Many years ago (1994) is was the West Indies that lured me to become their biggest fan. That was the series against India which the Windies levelled in Mumbai after being one down in nagpur. It was the summer and I was at my uncles house and since I had nothing better to do was watching (grudgingly!) a Test match!
They say childhood influences last a lifetime. In that series I saw Walsh, Kenneth Benjamin, Anderson Cummins and a coupla other quicks. Lara, Chanderpaul, Hooper, Keith Artherton and Simmons as batsmen and a wickety called Junior Murray. I fell in love with their style and their flamboyance. I made it a point to learn more about them. Soon I was mesmerised by the bowling of Curtly Ambrose and the batsmanship of Brian Lara. Till today my favorite all time players are Ambrose and Lara. And I really wished that the semifinals against Australia went differently in 1996 when they lost by 4 runs. It would have given these two great players the highest honour due to them.
Over the latter half of the 90s they have gone through their lowest with a poor domestic structure and a lack of unity. The former has seen dirty linen being washed in public and the latter has seen players revolt on salaries and contracts. Combine that with a lack of one person to bring different islands together and you have a recipe for disaster. Clive Loyd was perhaps the last great unifier of West Indian cricket. Viv Richards to some extent but Lara is just not there as a people person.
But I am not completely disheartened because there is potential. The last two editions of the ICC Champions trophy has given proof though its not exactly a revival of fortunes they are capable of coming up with good cricket. It is also a fact that every dog his day. The Aussies were the whipping boys of cricket int he days of Merv Hughes and then came along Border who changed Aussie cricket. Similar is the story of what Cronje did after Kepler Wessels handed him the South African captaincy. What West Indies cricket needs is one person who can see ahead and build a team that will be world class a few years down the line. Till that time we will have to see the Windies whipped around.
Buck up dudes!