The 1970s and 1980s belonged to Westindies Cricket team. They produced the most talented and ruthless players. They combined under great leadership of the likes of Clive Llyod and Sir Vivian Richards and comfortably dominated the world cricket for about 2 decades. During the early 90s, the Windies team was dealt a massive blow with the retirement of its star players like Richards, Greenidge, Dujon and Marshall (who all retired after the away series against England in 1991), bringing an end to a glorious era. This left a youthful and inexperienced side.
Though they kept on producing great cricketers, such as Brian Lara, Courteny Walsh, Ian Bishop and more, the breed that once ruled the cricketing world was nowhere to be found. Amongst low wages, Foreign T20 leagues, Board Politics and all, Windies continued to slip lower and lower.
Although they managed to show momentary brilliance here and there. They won the 2007 Champions Trophy in an absolute thriller of a final against England. They became the only team to conquer two T20 World Cups in 2012 and 2016. But their performance in the Test Cricket has been consistently degrading.
England is one of the toughest places to tour. If you have never been to England before, the swing, the seam, and the weather will test you and it will test you hard. When Westindies arrived on the English shores a month or so ago, they would have known what a mighty challenge lies ahead of them. Alien Conditions for most of the touring guys against a team which has been almost invincible in their own yard from a while, having two of the best fast bowlers going around.
They weren’t even given a chance to beat England. Come third day of the first test at Edgbaston, the ‘told you so’ moment came true for most of the media, the written press, and the ex-cricketers while Windies hurtled to an innings defeat.T hey lost 19 of their 20 wickets in a span of 351 minutes, batting for just 92.4 overs in total.
Ex-Cricketers were all over them, terming them as the worst Carrebean team ever to tour England. But the cricket gods had a different story in their mind. Kraig Brathwaite and Shai Hope put on a marathon partnership of 246 run off 411 balls to put Windies in lead in their first Innings at Leeds. England declared at 490/8 in the second innings, leaving Windies to chase 322 in 100 odd overs. The Brathwaite- Hope pair shined again. Hope’s unbeaten 118 took his team home with just a few overs to spare. Windies had achieved a miracle.
What can’t be denied is the fact that in a past year or so they have come close to such victories a number of times. Dareen Bravo had put in a similar effort last year, when they almost took the game away from Pakistan after Azhar Ali had struck a triple century.
Although they lost the series 1-2 to England by losing the third test at Lord’s the signs are good. This is a young team and they are learning to play together as a team. Players are learning to absorb pressure. Gabriel has been a great find for Windies. Roach’s comeback has made the bowling department look sharper. There is plenty of talent in the batting department as well. If the Carebean board is done with their politics and their foolish moves, I hope they can bring back Dareen Bravo into the test team. He is certainly the most talented batsman the Westindies have right now. There are still certain facets of the game where they need to improve. There is a huge improvement needed in their fielding, especially the catching part. Batting and Bowling must continue to evolve. And on top of all, the never say die attitude, the ‘fighting’ spirit that they showed at Leeds is what they if they aspire to be half as good as the team Windies were in their glory days.
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