West Indies: Can It Get Any Worse?

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Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

There was a time when cricket dominance knew only one name: West Indies. Two consecutive World Cups in 1975 and 1979, Test Cricket supremacy, West Indies had it all. From swashbuckling left-handers and all-rounders to the scariest of fast bowlers, West Indies always carried themselves with a certain swagger. That swagger though now seems to have long faded.

To take a small sample to analyse West Indies, over the last six years, the Windies have played in 19 Test series. They have only won five of them. Four of them have come against either Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, who safe to say have not yet shown much of fight at the Test level. In the last three years, the men from the Caribbean have only won four Tests. In the same time, 14 players have made their debuts. The present captain, Jason Holder, has only played 23 Test matches and is still just 25 years old.

With all the tensions between the elite batch of players and the Cricket Board, West Indies Cricket has been the worst-affected. Big players like Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine have not played Test cricket in a very long time. All of these players have won two World T20 titles. Kieron Pollard has never got near to the eleven of a test team. Darren Bravo looks to have found a bad spot in the eyes of the board, and experienced players like Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin look afterthoughts.

After the turn of the millenium, West Indies had no shortage of great names. Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Carl Hooper, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, all have had resounding international success. If West Indies were not able to win the big tournaments, they made sure they took teams to the limit. In the present decade, excluding T20 cricket, West Indies have made two quarter-finals in the World Cup, largely due to an easy group format for established Test-playing nations.

The condition looks disgusting now. West Indies are currently ninth in the ODI Rankings and need to win all of their upcoming six ODIs to stand a remote chance to achieve direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup. The cut-off date for that is September 30. Having already missed the Champions Trophy earlier this year, things have not looked like improving as they put in a very disappointing performance against India in the recently concluded ODI series. Two consecutive world tournaments without the vibrant West Indies does not sound right. The thought of West Indies having to play a qualifying tournament to make the World Cup is more than a clear indicator of how serious the situation is. West Indies have not won any of their previous eight ODI series. In those 29 ODIs, the Windies have won only five.

Where does the problem lie? Is the domestic system good enough to constantly provide quality players to the national team on a consistent basis? Is the atmosphere around the team healthy enough? Are the Cricket Board too short sighted to see the long term destruction of their side? Are the players treated well enough? These questions when asked only reflect how dire the situation has become.

The Windies, once a cricket superpower, now find themselves going into an ever deeper abyss which has been grabbing at them for a good part of a decade. If something does not give soon, we could really see West Indies Cricket go into oblivion.

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