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West Indies was once a pride of cricket. The best of teams cowered before their deadly pacers like Webley Hall and Charlie Griffith and record breaking off spinners Lance Gibbs of the sixties. With half a decade of lean period, the team swung back into action under Lloyd with awesome players like Andy Roberts, Holding, Wayne, Croft, Clark and Marshall (died of cancer). It held total sway over the crick world of seventies with two World Cups to their credit and continued the terror into eighties. West Indies is presently in complete disarray. The things that started to slide for West Indies in the early nineties have reached their abysmal depths by the end of the decade of the last century proving the prophetic saying of that great cricketer Malcom Marshall, "Every things seems to be going down the drain…"

If this team, once a magnificent pack,  has to restore its lost glory, the selectors and the captain, specially the current one, Brian Lara, have to act concertedly and in the best interest of cricket . Otherwise the coming generation of cricket lovers would only read in history ….." Once upon a time there was a team of West Indies……"

West Indies: What a shame!

By Ruchika Khanna       

West Indies arrived in Australia after their disastrous trip to England, where they were demolished to say the least. They were bowled out twice under 100 runs in 5 test matches. This is a far cry from the great West Indian team, which used to crush the opposition relentlessly and now they are at the receiving end.  The West Indies team of the 80’s was a revelation in itself and such teams come only once in a lifetime. To be able to achieve those heights is not easy for any team but to fall down so low is an altogether different thing. Everybody is stunned with the kind of level they have fallen down to.

They started off in Australia, exactly from where they had left. They were humiliated and badly crushed in the first test match. Lara, their only batting hope failed in both innings.  There has been widespread criticism of their constant decline, so much so that Colin Croft, the former West Indian great has asked them to go back midway to avoid further humiliation. There have been calls from all quarters for them to go back but Adams, the West Indian captain is still hopeful of a revival.  Well, it is a sad situation and the one, which needs a lot of thinking and may be some time off from cricket. Though there can be many theories behind this downfall, but one thing, which is more apparent than anything else is the lack of talent. No matter how talented Lara is but no team can succeed on one man’s laurels. Even Lara has been in an awful form to say the least. Even a six-month lay off has not brought him back the kind of batting, he had become reminiscent with. He now looks a pale shadow of what he used to be and that is a big blow to his team.

Apart from Lara and to some extent Chanderpaul, none of the West Indian batsmen have the technique or the talent to face fast bowling. Their bowling also revolves around Walsh, who is 38 and on his last legs now. Besides him, the others have come and gone. None of them could even come close to the oldies Ambrose and Walsh. It is so strange that the West Indian selectors have not been able to fine one good pacer from the land where babies used to be born with a cricket ball in their hands. Well, literally. No one is trying to say that their bowlers are bad. Mclean, Dillon and Black are very talented but they miss the firepower, which is so essential. And who will justify the selection of someone like Nagamootoo, who is as good as a college level cricketer.

Without being rude, one can call their batting line-up absolutely awful. Even someone like Adams, who is the captain of the team, has made zero contribution in the last few matches. In fact his presence in the team is questionable. Players like Campbell, Ganga, Sarwan, and what not have found a place in the team and they have delivered nothing. May be some one like Sarwan needs experience but where is Ricardo Powell, who created quite a sensation during his presence at the Sahara cup. Is West Indies trying to tell the whole world that he is not good enough to be in the test team and is only good for the one dayers? If that is the theory then it is absolute rubbish. They don’t have 11 decent players to represent in any form of international cricket and they cannot afford to be so choosy in their selection.    

Fielding has been on the downward path for a long time and less said the better about it.

Well what one fails to see is that the fall of West Indies is a big loss for cricket. It has been a tremendous contributor to this great game and one of the biggest reasons why cricket became so popular. There is a lot of sorting out to be done and even if that means not playing for another year or so, so be it. That kind of break can do wonders, as constant cricket doesn’t give anyone the time to think about what’s going wrong. Especially in the case of West Indies, who have been completely shattered ! Whatever the decision would be, one can only hope for something positive out of it. Because cricket without West Indies would indeed become poorer.

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Carribean Tragedy
The one time wonder
By Sanjeeb Mukherjee

If you ask any avid cricket lover particularly a fan of the West Indian cricket, as to what ails the once most feared team in the world. He or she will very definitely say that West Indian players are all one time wonders. And this precisely summarizes the present state of West Indies cricket team.

Every member of the team be for that matter the indomitable Brain Lara have just become one time wonders. A look back at the performance of the team in the past six months will justify this claim. Starting from the home tour of the Windies against first the Zimbabweans. Considered to be the minnows of world cricket the Zimbabweans very easily could have upset the once mighty Windies had it not been for the old warhorse of Ambrose and Walsh. The same happened during the home series against Pakistan.

The West Indian batsmen like Adrian Griffith, Campbell and Ricardo Powell were inconsistent in their performance throughout the series. One match these players would play a scintillating knock to fade out in the very next, a trend, which continued in the very next, a trend which continued in the present English tour.

Except for the batting of Captain Jimmy Adam’s coupled with the superb bowling of Walsh and Ambrose the Pakis could have easily triumphed. Brain Lara the only of the recognized face in WI batting line up was grossly missed during the series.

Nevertheless the Windies won the series and went to England with their tails up along with the added advantage of inclusion of Brain Lara in the team. The series of England started on a explosive note for the Windies with Walsh again showing the world that why he is regarding as one of the best pace bowlers in the history of cricket to skittle out the English batsmen. West Indies won the match comfortably while England just managed to scrap through the second to level the series one all. The third test ended in a draw, but it marked the return of Brain Lara into big scores. The knock of 105 that he played showed the class that can only come from Lara’s bat.

Then came the fourth test at Headingly which again showed ‘why WI players particularly their batsmen are called one – one time wonders. In the second innings none of the batsmen except for the newcomer Ramnaresh Sarwan could stand-up against the pace of Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick. You could never expect Lara to perform always. West Indies was all out for a mere 61 to give the English team a one-match lead. While the fifth and final test is to began shortly the West Indian cricket authorities have to give a serious thought to their team composition and evaluate the performance of the new players. Every win in the West Indian cricket history of past six months can be attributed to the fearsome duo of Walsh and Ambrose, who at the ripe age of 35 plus showed exemplary accurate line and length and were regularly picking up wickets throughout the series. Infact in between them Walsh and Ambrose captured nearly 90 percent of the English wickets that felt. None of the other pace bowlers like Reon King, Franklyn Rose or Nixon Mclean could match the class of Walsh or Ambrose. As a matter of fact the new West Indian pace bowlers are being only included in the test squad to give rest to Walsh and Ambrose from their bowling spells. The second test was lost by West Indies just because of one over by Franklyn Rose where he gave as many as 13 runs to turn the tide in favour of England.

The batsmen too failed to bring about consistency in their performance. Now the big question that is being asked by every West Indian cricket fan what will happen to the West Indian bowling after the likes of Ambrose and Walsh retire from the scene. So much so that Sir Vivian Richards has even asked Curtly Ambrose to defer his retirement plans for the benefit of West Indian cricket. Same can be said about their batting also in the absence of Lara there is not one single batsman who can shoulder the responsibility of carrying the team’s batting. The opening and middle is particularly very weak giving the opposition a chance to exploit it. Though the new players have ample talent but they have been not able to show them. Sooner or later the West Indies cricket team has to come out of the shadows of Walsh, Ambrose and Lara to regain its past glory. For that present Captain Jimmy Adams is the right man to lead. His body language in the field shows grit and determination, which is the only silver lining of the mighty Carribean team.  

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