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ICC must help Windies
West Indies Cricket needs support from everyone.
By Raj Khosla

Disaster after disaster. Humiliating defeats after mediocrity. This is the common feature of the present West Indies Cricket. Not only devastating for the cricket loving Caribbean public but also for others, who have high respect for once-mighty of the game.

Everybody is shocked to see the abysmal level of cricket played by the present bunch and if this state of performances continues, then the sheer popularity of the game will suffer at the hands of the Windies themselves, who were once the King of the game. Their domination was such that nobody could imagine cricket without them. It was due to their dare-devilry, their flair and their arrogance that the game’s popularity flourished. The game would be poorer indeed if it loses the flair of West Indies. 

There was a time in the 80’s when drawing a Test match against the Windies was considered as an excellent performance, leave alone winning. And now things have deteriorated in such a fashion that nobody is taking them seriously. Ironically a cruel transformation. They are being mocked and ridiculed by even the weaker Test playing nations. It is depressing to see how drastically things have changed for them and the Windies are realizing it a bit too late. Now, one can only hopes that their good days return soon.

To save the tarnishing image of the West Indies, it is much required from the International Cricket Council to intervene and save the beleaguered Caribbean’s. ICC must address the basic problems currently being faced by WICB. The West Indies Cricket Board is unable to spend much on their infrastructure and the diminishing level of cricket shows it. The youngsters in West Indies are opting for more lucrative sports like Basketball and Baseball. The invasion of American sports has further damaged the popularity of cricket.

Instead of wasting money in the name of globalization, ICC should try to lift the standard of current Test playing nations. It is not only the West Indies but even Zimbabwe’s performance is disappointing. Money is also a big factor in Zimbabwe cricket. What is the use of spreading the game into other countries when some of the present teams are struggling hard to survive?

ICC must realize that the shattering defeats of West Indies are not only West Indies woe but in a way, it also doesn’t augur well for the game of cricket. Currently, West Indies is the only team to play a five-test match series either in Australia or England. It speaks volume on the importance of this team. Perhaps, it is high time that the ICC starts some serious thinking and takes some radical measures to boast up the game of cricket, which is the only game to be played in each and every Caribbean Island, thereby uniting different nations to formulate a common team called the  
'
West Indies’

Yet another feather in the cap of Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh is now 5th on all time leading run getters!
By Vimal Kumar

The fourth Test between Australia and West Indies was the 121th Test of the Aussie Captain Steve Waugh. After missing the third Test due to injury, Steve Waugh not only made a glorious century against the West Indians at MCG but in the process, he became the 5th all time leading run-getters in Test cricket by replacing the master-blaster Vivan Richards.

Of late, he is not as consistent as before but still he is one of the best batsmen in contemporary cricket. For long, Steve Waugh has been the “crisis-man” for Australia. There has been an umpteenth time, when Waugh has either saved a Test match from precarious situations or has won the Test from hopeless situations.

In 1984-85, Steve Waugh started his career against the touring Indians. Initially, he was vulnerable against the short-pitched deliveries but he worked exceedingly hard to fine-tune this aspect of his batting. And he succeeded in his effort. Australia won the much-vaunted Frank Warrell Trophy in 1995, when it defeated West Indies in their backyard. Steve Waugh, along with his brother Mark was the key factor in winning the Trophy. Steve Waugh scored a double-century in that series and thus enhanced his reputation as a better player of fast bowling.

Bob Simpson-one of the most astute thinkers of the game, rates Steve Waugh very highly because of his ability to play fast and spin bowling with equal adroitness. Steve Waugh has also performed reasonably decent on the turning-tracks of sub-continent, where many of the ‘foreign players’ have struggled over the years.

One of the reasons for Steve’s lack of hype in media is due to his comparison with his twin-brother Mark Waugh. Steve may not have the silken grace of his brother Mark, but his credentials, as a great batsman has never been in doubt. Needless to say, Steve is one of the most admired and tough cricketers around the world.

Steve Waugh is now aiming to enter the ‘10000 club’ because he has already scored more than 8500 runs with an enviable average of 50 plus. It won’t take too many Tests for Steve to surpass Javed Miandad’s 8832 runs and Graham Gooch’s 8900 runs. Coming tour of India may be his last tour as a player, so he is determined to leave a solid stamp on Indian tracks and this is certainly not good news for Indian bowlers! 

Player Nation Centuries Matches Innings Runs Not Out Average Highest Score
Sunil Gavaskar India 34 125 214 10122 16 51.12 236 n.o.
Don Bradman Australian 29 52 80 6996 10 99.94 334
Allan Border Australian 27 156 265 11174 44 50.56 205
Gary Sobers West Indies 26 93 160 8032 21 57.78 365 n.o.
Sachin Tendulkar India 24 79 125 6416 13 57.29 217
S. Waugh Australian 24 132 209 8684 39 51.08 200
Greg Chappell Australian 24 87 151 7110 19 53.86 247 n.o.
Vivian Richards West Indies 24 121 182 8540 12 50.24 291
Javed Maindad Pakistan 23 124 189 8832 21 52.57 280 n.o

 McGrath: Every Captain’s choice 
By Ruchika Khanna

Glenn McGrath did what he is doing best at. Ripping the oppositions batting line up apart. His spell of 6-17 in the first innings and 4-10  was nothing short of breathtaking and to add to that he took Lara’s wicket in both the innings as well. West Indies which were sitting comfortably on 45-2 in the first innings were doomed soon after that, as they crashed to 82 all out, with last 7 wickets falling for just 17 runs. And the chief destroyer was but of course the big man McGrath, who returned with the excellent figures of 6-17 in overs. Ask him which wicket he thought was the most prized one and he would reply without a wink, Brian Lara. He has dismissed Lara 11 times in test matches and claims to have a mental edge over the great batsman.

The special thing about this magnificent fast bowler is his ability to take the wicket of the best batsman in the opposition team. Whether it was that beauty that got rid of Lara in the 99’ World cup or the ripper from which he got the little maestro Tendulkar out in the same tournament as well.  Even in the one off test, which was held in Delhi in 1997, he removed Tendulkar for a duck. Its this part of his bowling which makes him truly magnificent. Add to that he is a miser, when it comes to giving runs. His average is in the top bracket and strike rate is also superb. He is just 8 short of 300 wickets, which would be perfectly symbolic of his amazing talent. Not only in tests but in one dayers as well, he has been very consistent and helped Australia in winning matches.

His approach to the stumps is simple as he has a smooth action and a flowing run-up. He is tall, which gives him that extra bit to get bounce of the pitch. His strength is his line and length as he keeps probing on that off-stump. His line is so immaculate that it tests the patience of the batsman and makes him do something silly. 

Like all the Australians, he also takes pride in playing for his country and is a great contributor. His presence in the team is a big motivating factor. Australian team has never relied on Individual brilliance and to have that kind of standing in the team is absolutely incredible. After the emergence of Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar, the media and public went berserk about the pace sensations. McGrath on the other hand just went about doing his job quietly and in no time he is close to the 300-test wickets mark. Infact he is just 4 short. He has taken 183 wickets in 121 One-day internationals.

He is a magnificent bowler, someone the captain can always count on at the time of crisis.  He has been a tremendous asset to his team and like old wine; even he is getting better with age. One only hopes that this trend continues so that we can enjoy the class and talent of this man for a long time to come.

 West Indies Australia Curtain Raiser  
S.Zeyaur Rahman

One of the greatest rivalries in the history of Test Cricket is all set to be renewed, when West  Indies meet Australia at the Gaba. It is infact a telling commentary on the poverty of the present  that for everything great, we have to refer to the past. A heavily demoralized and depleted Caribbean side will perhaps have its proud past as its only inspiration at the beginning of the series and most probably, its only consolation at the end of it.     

The memories of the W trio playing music with their willows, the dynamo Richards on a song too  high pitched for the Aussie liking are some of the legacies of this rivalry. And who can forget  the fearsome quartet making every batting artist dance to their tune! But alas its a part of the  past, dead and buried, except in memory.  

Even before their days of unparalleled dominance began, the West Indian side never presented such a dismal and pathetic picture. Their only beacon of hope, Brian Lara is but a shadow of himself. With him the depth, the strength and the class of  the West Indian batting begins and - ends. The only person who can hold a candle to him is the Captain Jimmy Adams. But that would not be enough as he has the unenviable task of rekindling and  resuscitating a side, which is groping in  darkness.  

In direct contrast to the fortunes of their Caribbean counterparts, the Australian team is riding on an unprecedented high. The undisputed Champions of world cricket are getting almost everything right. The bench strength of the Kangaroos is an indication of their awesome strength, which has players like Blewett, Hayden, Slater and Bevan struggling for a place. The West Indians are yet to find a replacement for Richards or Richardson and on the other hand  there is a series of talented youngsters only too eager to walk into the shoes of Border, Taylor and Waugh.   

A white wash is not a remote possibility. But then the series cannot be allowed to be a  massacre of the innocent. It comes at a crucial hour, when the credibility of the game is in question, where the existence of the game is at stake. And anything that can restore the glory of  the game is a sterling performance by its finest exponents. And God be thanked, that there is no dearth of stars in either sides.   

The magic mark of 500 will be a huge inspiration for Walsh. It is not just another jewel in the crown, but a gift to the game itself. It was in Australia, some ten years ago, that the Lara saga began with an epic 277 and a new star in the galaxy was announced. Nothing excites McGrath  more than Lara on the other end. The Lara-McGrath duel has all the potential to bring back all the distracted viewers back to the game. When the masters lead, the troupe invariably follows. 

The battle lines are drawn. Odds are heavily in favour of Australia. Will the one-man army of Lara stand between Australia and victory or will the one-man demolition squad of McGrath spell the doom? Not to forget that there are other stars waiting for their share of glory, their own place under the sun. So all said and done, we expect the West Indian side to prove not only a befitting inheritors of their past but also a worthy contributor to the future. 

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