Monday, November 21, 2005

An endless tunnel

To anyone who knows anything about cricket, the story of the West Indies' shocking decline is old hat. Most of us who watched - and naturally admired - the great West Indian sides of the '80s nurtured a secret hope that somehow West Indies would regroup and become a decent force, if not the all-conquering one of the heydays. Except the odd Brian Lara inspired aberration, Winides' fortunes have continued their sharp southbound journey. I for one, miss a strong West Indian side, as I'm sure do most cricket fans. There is the odd Dennis Lillee, apparently frustrated enough having ended up on the losing side more often than not against the old masters, who takes vicarious pleasure at the plight of the current side (I'm not sure even Lillee feels the same now). Surely among a miniscule minority. In recent times, a number of young prospects have emerged, particularly in the batting area, thereby rekindling some hope of a revival; but none of them has been able to put together a string of performances that did justice to their potential. So far, and it has been a substantial period of time since, the ICC Champions Trophy triumph has turned out to be a false dawn. The sponsorship crisis didn't help, even if I'm not sure it had a significant impact in the long term. It couldn't have come at a worse time, though. No one typifies the problem with the younger brigade better than Ramnaresh Sarwan, who produces the odd sparkler amidst a series of disappointments. Wavell Hinds has been even more of a disappointment, though it has to be said Sarwan is much more talented than Hinds and hence the greater the sense of despondency in his case. The young quicks are all honest triers but they are nowhere near the top class bowlers in contemporary cricket, let alone be anywhere near their illustrious predecessors. Dwayne Bravo is a clever and talented cricketer, but he's not quite a gamebreaker. Only Chris Gayle has enhanced his reputation lately and is feared as one of the most destructive batsmen, certainly in the limited overs game. Certainly, there's a better ensemble of talent in the squad than three-four years ago, but somehow nothing seems to be quite working out. With the World Cup in their own backyard, one hopes West Indies cricket will have just the inspiration needed to kick-start something special. Cricket will certainly be better off for it. - NK
PS: I drafted the post before Bravo's superb innings, but it wasn't enough to stem the rot.

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