Whenever you start to talk about West Indies cricket, you have to look through the past images of ruthless cricket played at its expansive quality. As India begin their campaign in the Caribbean islands, nostalgia attracts your mind, forcing you to recollect some of the most glorious moments of international cricket.
The present scenario may not reflect the glorious past, but it’s a crude stumble to awaken to the reality that West Indian cricket no more a dominant force, rather a shadow of the past. The odd success, particularly in T-20 cricket, cannot be taken into account to judge the present state.
Nobody, especially of a generation which followed cricket from its heart as early as from the sixties, who doesn’t even hope and wish for a revival of that past. Why should they? It used to symbolize the best attributes of cricket and sports.
Cricket pundits still resonate some of the most memorable lines like – “the bowler is finding for himself how difficult it is to bowl to Sobers in this mood” from the BBC Test match special, though the event took place in 1974.
The legendary Gary Sobers was then merely a shadow of himself entering into the twilight of his career, but his amazing legacy was carry forwarded by the likes of Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Brian Lara and a bunch of fast bowlers who could destroy any batting line-up with fearsome pace and accuracy.
Among this cricketing greats, Viv Richards, often called the “Smokin Joe” for his terrifying boxer like physique, was the ultimate example of blending arrogance with grace and delicacy with power. Viv taught even the best of the bowlers who is the master, with his audacious strokes.
Wasim Akram, among the all-time best fast bowlers in the world, once in an interview described Richards in these simple lines: “When you ran up to bowl to him, you feared humiliation as he could hit even the best ball of your life, even on the most difficult track, out of the park with complete nonchalance.”
The Lloyd-Richards era still happens to be the most memorable chapter for West Indies, as no other team could match them – be it in talent, self-confidence, winning streak and not but the least, providing tremendous entertainment to the crowd.
Just in any other aspect of human civilization, cricket being an entertaining sport, had to expand its limited base to emerge more teams, and as a result West Indies finally slumped.
The decline was so dramatic that sociologists and historians still struggle to find the exact reasons for their slipping down.
They come across several dimension – from the complete collapse of colonialism, where the Black pride against their White masters no longer tipped to be the source of major inspiration, the increasing influence of American sports to the rivalries, political disputes among the various island nations which completely forgot once they came together as one nation, one team for the sake of cricket, for the good of the Caribbean image.
Whatever the reasons, no such intrigue follower of this beautiful game, whether Indian or any other true cricket lover, doesn’t bemoan this gigantic fall, with a little drop of tear in his eye.
Even the hardcore critics of T-20 format started to celebrate when West Indies won the T20 World Cup earlier this year.
When Dwayne Bravo sang: Chompions, chompians, we are the chompions,” with the enthusiasm and wild vigour only a West Indian is able to bring to life, the world was once again recognized and bowed down to the awesome legacy of their great past and what we, the ardent lover of the game, have missed in recent years.
Let’s put aside our so-called “Desh-Vakti”, let’s think wise. Will it be a crime to wish India lose the present series? If it leads the revival of West Indies cricket, a great tradition; then what’s the point being sarcastic?