The West Indian One day team of the mid 90’s was a competitive unit in international cricket. The Maroon Brigade may not have been as potent as their great teams of the late 70’s and the 80’s but still were a formidable side by any yardstick. The team played their cricket in the typical Calypso style with a certain degree of flair and panache. The team garnered a huge fan base courtesy a galaxy of cricketing legends who played for them during that era.
The Windies were entertaining to watch with their set of natural stroke-makers, a god gifted batting genius, fearsome pace battery and a lone spinner who fielded brilliantly. But the most fascinating aspect of the team was the unpredictability about their performances. The fans always were always in for an element of surprise as they never knew which West Indies side would turn up, the world beaters or a side which would crumble under pressure.
So here is my Best West Indies ODI Eleven of the Mid 90’s –
Best XI – Stuart Williams, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Carl Hooper (Captain), Jimmy Adams, Ridley Jacobs (Wicket-keeper), Roger Harper, Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Courtney Walsh
- Stuart Williams
In the late 90’s, Stuart Williams was the most consistent opener for the Windies after they tried out a string of make-shift opening combinations. Williams was a steady opening batsman who often gave his team a solid platform up the order. Williams was particularly known for his elegant stroke making through the cover region. As a fielder, Williams had good reflexes and was a specialist at the gully position.
2. Shivnarine Chanderpaul:
A surprise choice for an opener, Shivnarine Chanderpaul was a gritty batsman who could adapt to different conditions and bat at different positions in the larger interest of his team.
All through is career, Shivnarine Chanderpaul was overshadowed by his more illustrious counterpart Brian Lara. Chanderpaul was undoubtedly the lynch pin of the West Indian batting order. Chanderpaul who perhaps possessed the crabbiest technique and the most unorthodox batting stance was a consistent run accumulator for his side.
Shiv was a master at nudging the ball for singles in the gaps. The ever consistent Chanderpaul more often than not lent stability and solidity to the West Indies batting. Besides his batting credentials, Chanderpaul was a brilliant fielder in the square region.
3. Richie Richardson:
Richie Richardson was a flamboyant middle order batsman who was hailed as the natural successor to Sir Vivian Richards given the explosive manner in which he batted. A free flowing stroke maker, Richardson was at his aggressive best playing quality fast bowling on hostile pace friendly tracks.
Richardson’s trademark maroon round hat became immensely popular among the cricket fans. A cricketer with good leadership qualities and sportsmanship, Richardson captained his side brilliantly to the semi-finals of the 1996 World Cup.
4. Brian Lara:
Arguably one of the greatest batsman of his generation, Brian Lara’s batting exhibited flamboyance and grace. Lara was pleasing to watch with his characteristic high back lift and extravagant shuffle across the crease. He had all the attributes of a great stroke player, notable being his exquisite timing, brilliant footwork and ability to play the ball very late.
Few knew that the batting maestro played with an unconventional grip which helped him produce some flamboyant stroke play through cocking his wrist. Lara had a wide range of shots at his disposal but looked majestic while square cutting the ball or steering the pacers to the third man region. An outright match winner, Lara consistently produced match winning knocks for the Windies all through the 90’s.
5. Carl Hooper:
The Guyanese all-rounder had immense talent but never fulfilled his true potential. Hooper had a lazy elegance to his batting which made stroke making look rather easy. Hooper was an attacking middle order batsman who used his feet brilliantly against the spinners.
Hooper often provided impetus to the Windies batting by clubbing a few sixes towards the end of the innings. Hooper added depth to the Windies bowling with his gentle off-spinners. Hooper was a good fielder in the slips with a safe pair of hands. With all his experience and wisdom on the game, Carl became one of the multiple captains to lead the Windies during that era.
6. Jimmy Adams:
Jimmy Adams was a capable middle order batsman with a dodged defence. Adams had the ability to hold up one end of the innings when the team was in a spot of bother. Adams was often seen constructing the Windies innings by occupying the crease for long periods of time.
Adams was known for his calm temperament and high powers of concentration. Besides his stubborn approach to batting, Adams was a handy off-spinner who added a bit of variety to the pace pronged Windies attack.
7. Ridley Jacobs:
Wicket-keeper batsman Ridley Jacobs could open the innings as a pinch hitter or come down the order to finish off the innings with a bang. Ridley was destructive with the bat owing to his hard hitting stroke play. The 1999 World Cup was a glittering example of his exploits as a power hitter. Besides his batting credentials, Jacobs was an acrobatic keeper who took some sensational catches behind the stumps
8. Roger Harper:
In a pace pronged attack, Roger Harper stood out as a front-line spinner for the Windies during the 90’s. Harper was an attacking lower order batsman who possessed the ability to hit some lusty blows. Harper was the arguably best West Indian fielder of his time. For a cricketer of big frame, Harper was deceptively quick across the turf and had a safe pair of hands.
9. Curtly Ambrose
The tall and powerfully built Curtly Ambrose was the pace ace of the West Indies bowling in the mid and late 90’s. Ambrose bowled with lot of fire and aggression. Ambrose bowled a consistent line and got the ball to seam both ways. Ambrose troubled the batsmen with the steep bounce he got by bowling short of a good length. Ambrose formed a potent pace attack with Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop. Ambrose also contributed with the bat by scoring some useful runs down the order.
10. Ian Bishop
Ian Bishop, perhaps underrated by many was a genuinely quick bowler in his prime. Bishop had raw pace and could swing the ball viciously away to torment the top notch batsmen. Bishop brilliantly complimented Ambrose and Walsh as the third seamer in the side. Unfortunately Bishop’s promising career was thwarted by a sustained back injury. Nevertheless he left a big impression in his short but successful stint in international cricket.
11. Courtney Walsh:
The tall and well-built Courtney Walsh formed a deadly new ball pair with fellow seamer Curtly Ambrose. Walsh was an untiring workhorse who possessed great stamina and endurance to bowl in the right channels. Walsh hit the deck hard and troubled the batsman by extracting bouncy from awkward angles. Walsh had a good cricketing brain and captained the West Indies side during the later part of the 90’s.
On a lighter note, Walsh was a true Number 11 batsman who lived up to his reputation of creating a mockery of the elementary batting technique.
Keith Arthurton was a handy all-rounder in the limited overs format. Arthurton was a dependable middle order who lent depth to the Windies batting by playing some valuable knocks. He was a decent left arm orthodox bowler who gave the Windies bowling attack an element of spin in the middle overs. More importantly, he was an outstanding fielder who lifted up the team’s spirits with his spectacular fielding.
All-rounder Phil Simmons was a great asset to the team. He was used very effectively in multiple roles by the Windies. He could open the innings and was equally comfortable coming down the order. Simmons added that much required balance to their squad with bat and ball. Phil complimented the quick bowlers by bowling his medium pacers with good control and guile.
Opener Sherwin Campbell was a maverick of sorts who could play some scintillating knocks but succumbed to inconsistencies for most of his career. Philo Wallace was an attacking opening batsman who could play some destructive innings up the order. Ricardo Powell, a hard-hitting batsman flourished for a brief while before going into wilderness. Meanwhile Junior Murray and Courtney Browne were often called for donning the wicket-keeping gloves.
The Windies true to their great cricketing tradition continued producing promising young seamers in Cameroon Cuffy, Reon King, Mervyn Dillon, Otis Gibson, Nixon Mclean and Franklyn Rose who all did well whenever they got a look into the team. Meanwhile spinners Nehemiah Perry and Rawl Lewis made it to the playing eleven when spinning tracks were there on the offer.
I haven’t considered former West Indian stalwarts like Desmond Haynes, Malcolm Marshall, Keith Benjamin, Patrick Patterson and Anderson Cummins as these star cricketers had either retired or were at the fag end of their careers towards the mid 90’s and hence did not make the national team on a regular basis.
Hope you enjoyed reading my article and would draw a consensus with the Best Eleven that I have picked up for the Windies for the time period into consideration.