One may be tempted to broad-brush the West Indies and sing their demise in world cricket, given their performances over the past decade or more.
The fact of the matter is West Indies cricket has a lot to boast about and can take pride in the fact that they have won the ICC Cricket World Cup twice, in 1975 and 1979, the ICC World Twenty20 twice, in 2012 and 2016, the ICC Champions Trophy once, in 2004, the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup once, in 2016, and were runners-up in the Cricket World Cup in 1983 and Under 19 Cricket World Cup in 2004.
The West Indies were the first team to win back-to-back World Cups (1975 and 1979), and appeared in three consecutive World Cup finals (1975, 1979 and 1983).
The West Indies women’s cricketers are also the current holder of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 championship title.
The truth is West Indies has a rich heritage as well as an excellent cricket pedigree and that cannot be easily write-off.
That said West Indies has fallen short in continuing the dominance they once enjoyed in test cricket and several reasons may be attributed to their current status in that format of the game.
However, today, only the visually challenged individual would fail to see that West Indies is brimming with young cricket talents.
The Windies winning the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup is certainly one indicator of the talent readily available in the Caribbean.
The challenge is harnessing, molding, developing, and building the talents on hand into an enterprise that will be the envy of the world. Now, the onus is on the principals involved to make sure that this strategy is executed.
Below are only but a few of the talents that have shown potential to make West Indies cricket great again:
Kraigg Clairmonte Brathwaite is only 23-years-old, but bats like a man born with a bat in his hands. He scored 28 centuries in local cricket before he was called to the West Indies Under-15 team. Since then, he led the Under-19 team in the World Under-19 World Cup in September 2013, played Test, First Class, and List A cricket.
At the Test level, he has played 24 matches scoring 4 (100s), 6 (50s) and a top score of 212.
In addition, he has played 68 First Class matches with 8 (100s) and 23 (50s) with an average of 43.62.
Also, he has played 16 List A matches with an average of 30.92 with a highest score of 55 not out. Brathwaite is also a useful off-spinner and has taken 7 test wickets and 3 First Class wickets.
Roston Lamar Chase is one of the best West Indies genuine all-rounders to walk to the cricket pitch since the 1980s. He is an organized, compact, and a technically correct player and is touted as a number three batsman.
Chase is a batting all-rounder, who bats right-handed and bowls right-arm off spin.
He made his senior debut for Barbados during the 2010–11 Regional Four Day Competition, at age 18.
After two matches in his debut season, he did not appear again until the 2012–13 competition, although he has since become a regular in the team.
He did not, however, make his break through until the 2014–15 season, when he scored a maiden first-class century, 120 not out from 241 balls against the Windward Islands.
He finished the season with 534 runs from eight matches, which placed him fourth for Barbados and eighth in the overall competition.
Chase continued his good form during the 2015–16 season, being named man of the match against the Leeward Islands after making 136 not out in his team’s first innings.
He recently made his Test debut against India and he did not disappoint as he picked up his maiden five-wicket haul and scored a century in the second Test match.
Young Jamaican, Jermaine Blackwood, born November 20th, 1991, is certainly one for the future. He is described as a dasher, flamboyant, fearless, aggressive and Vivian Richards-like in his approach to the game.
He had a wonderful 2013-14 first-class season, where he was the top-scorer in the Regional four-day competition with 611 runs. After he scored a hundred against the touring Bangladesh A team, the national selectors awarded him with a place in the Test squad during the series against New Zealand in 2014. He made his One Day International debut for the West Indies against Sri Lanka on November 4th, 2015.
Blackwood’s maiden Test ton came in his sixth Test appearance, against England in April 2015. He was also instrumental in West Indies’ leveling the series in the final Test by scoring 85 and 47 not out and was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match for his performance.
Shannon Terry Gabriel is one of the few emerging pace bowlers who bowl as the West Indies pacers of yesteryear. He is strongly built, fast, furious and fiery at pace. The man from Trinidad and Tobago is only 28-years-old, the age at which fast bowlers begins to show their class.
He became a key member of the Trinidad and Tobago’s attack quickly after his debut in 2010. He was one of the first invitees to the newly founded West Indies High-Performance Center, set up to improve the quality of young cricketers in the region.
In his debut test match against England in May 2012, he took four wickets while conceding 86 runs in the match, with a good economy rate.
Unfortunately, however, his debut game was cut short as he experienced back pain and consequently was sent home to rest the injury.
Gabriel has best bowling figures of 3 for 10 in Test, 5 for 78 in First Class, 4 for 34 in List A and 2 for 16 in Twenty/20.
Certainly, he is a bright prospect for the West Indies.
Jason Omar Holder age 24 and standing at 6’ 7” is a giant of a man. This all-round cricketer hails from Barbados, the country that is said to produce some of the greatest cricketers ever to grace a cricket pitch.
At 23 years, 72 days, Holder became the youngest ever West Indian captain, a testimony to his cricketing pedigree.
Currently, he is captain of both the West Indies Test and One Day International (ODI) team.
Holder first represented the West Indies at the ICC under-19 World Cup 2010 in New Zealand. He was later selected to the senior side for the ODI series in Australia in 2013, where he made his debut at Perth.
Holder’s ability came forcefully to the fore in an ODI against Pakistan where he picked up 4-13 in 10 overs.
He made his T20I debut against New Zealand, January 15, 2014, where he took 2-34 in 3 overs.
He later made his Test debut on 26 June 2014 against New Zealand. He bowled 20 overs in the match, taking 2 wickets for 50. He also scored 90 runs in the match including a 52.
He scored two consecutive fifties in the 2015 World Cup. On 17 April 2015, he scored a maiden Test century against England to help secure a draw in the first Test.
Holder also helped West Indies to draw their second Test match against the touring Indian team by scoring 64 not out.
The forgoing certainly demonstrates that the West Indies future is much brighter than the naysayers or pessimist would want to make it out to be or portray.
Carole Maye, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Carol Jesus Chan
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