SPORTS

Will We Ever See The Glory Days Return To West Indies Cricket?

The West Indies dominated world cricket for almost two decades spanning the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. In that period, the West Indies won back-to-back ODI World Cups in 1975 and 1979 while making the finals in 1983. The dominance of the team is seen by the fact that the team played 42 test series between 1974-1995 and in that span the team won 27 series, drew 11, and succumbed to only 4 losses.

This means that the team enjoyed a win percentage of 64%. The team did not lose a series for 15 years between 1980 and 1995. On other hand, the downturn in results was swift since the turn of the century. From the year 2000 to date, the team has played 71 test series notching only 18 wins, drawing 8 times, and suffering 45 losses. This would mean that the team enjoyed a win percentage of 25%.

West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose recently stirred up some controversy. in an interview on Talk Sports Live with Michael Bascombe. He stated, “I don’t think we will ever see those great, exceptional glory days again.” In this article, we will dissect Ambrose’s comments and assess the factors that will affect the glory days returning. Finally, we will arrive at a conclusion based on our discussion.

Talent and Development

One of the main reasons Curtly feels that we will never see the glory days again is that as he stated “It’s going to be difficult to find another Viv Richards, or a Haynes and Greenidge, a Brian Lara, Richie Richardson; you know, a Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, and the list goes on and one, Clive Lloyd.”

The players that emerged from that era are historically great. They had the natural-born ability to play the game of cricket, but they had to perfect their craft with the right training and in the right environment. In recent years, the likes of Shai Hope, Evan Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, and Sheldon Cottrell have emerged.

These players have shown that there is still talent in the region, but more needs to be done to unearth the talent from the primary school level. In professional sports around the world, the best teams and franchises have employed scouts to spot emerging talent. After spotting the talent, it must be harnessed and maximized through proper training and development. We must also get young people more interested in cricket instead of football, basketball, and the ever-popular track and field.

Investment

The West Indies has struggled for consistent quality sponsorship over the years. Digicel was the main sponsor for over 13 years until an agreement was reached with Sandals Resorts in 2018.

The Colonial Group International has also formed a global partnership with Cricket West Indies to develop grassroots cricket and to sponsor the ODI tournament in the region.

Castore is the current kit sponsor for the region’s team. However, despite being in 15 countries the West Indies lack wide-ranging sponsorship. For instance, if you searched on the Internet for Australia Cricket Commercial Partners you will find 14 different sponsors including Alinta energy, Vodafone, Dettol, Commonwealth Bank, Toyota, and even KFC. Where are the corporate companies in our region to sponsor the team?

The disparity in sponsorship with our competitors is alarming and one of the biggest challenges facing our cricket. Sponsorship is needed to create mini grounds, start academies, have proper pitches to play on, and bolster youth and community tournaments.

Passion and Pride of Players

Ambrose alluded to the lack of appreciation of the modern-day cricketer to the legacy of West Indies cricket. He stated, “most of the youngsters we have now, probably don’t quite understand what cricket means to West Indians in the West Indies and abroad because cricket is the only sport that really unites Caribbean people.”

Curtley is right because the players in the golden era played the game as if their lives depended on it. They wanted to keep the team on top, keep the unbeaten streak alive, and remain the world power of cricket.

The passion and pride of players have come into question at times in the past because some seem to be playing half-heartedly. They often give their wickets away through rash shots rather than put their heads down to bat and string partnerships together.

Nonetheless, the current crop of players appears to be moving in the right direction and observers feel that they are maximizing their efforts on the field. It proves that pride can be rediscovered through the right culture and the main component which is winning.

The retainer contracts also ensure that players can view cricket as their profession that they can dedicate themselves to. As players feel more comfortable financially and emotionally, then we will find that players will continue to deliver more fully on the cricket field.

Loyal Fan Base

Ambrose mentioned that the team’s dominance in the golden era stirred up pride in the region’s people. He stated, “When we were the best team in the world, West Indians all over the globe could walk and boast about how good we are because we were the best, so it’s going to be difficult to see those glory days again.”

The fan base certainly supported the team tremendously wherever they went in the world during that era. However, a winning team will always be more supported than a team that losses. Over the years, the Windies have lost some of their fans due to the quality of the product on the field. However, the fan base can be regained.

For instance, whenever there is a tight run chase or when the team is on top people will follow the action and cheer on the team. Fans also came out in their numbers for the CPL T-20 tournament before Covid. However, fans must realize that they play a major role in the return of the glory days by purchasing tickets, merchandise, cheering from the stands when spectators are allowed to return. They can even lobby their governments and major corporations so that more can be done to support the sport.

Conclusion 

The West Indies ruled world cricket for 2 decades due to the emergence of generational talent. While we agree that the return of those days is a daunting challenge, it is not an impossible feat. A dynasty in sport is at times cyclical and it can emerge with honing of talent, pride in defending the badge, proper investment, and a fan base that consistently rallies around the West Indies.

Readers Bureau, Contribution

Edited by Jesus Chan

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