Why the current squad isn’t as bad as you might think
Instead of pining for the past when the West Indies were the kings of Calypso cricket, perhaps it’s time to realize that sunny days were the exception rather than the rule.
The Windies are forever burdened with high expectations due to an exceptional time when they were the undisputed champions on the international cricket stage.
But times are changing. The times have changed.
And when you’re talking about a geographical group of distinct Caribbean nations playing together under the same flag, with a collective population of around 6.5 million, it’s no wonder they haven’t been able to regularly rival the might of the greatest cricketing nations.
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At first they struggled, after World War II they achieved respectability, they dominated the world landscape for a few decades, and for the past 30 years they struggled.
The current team have come back to average more than they have let down the legends of the past.
Like Sir Donald Bradman’s outlier test average of 99.94, the success of the mid-1970s Windies over a 20-year period is the exception to the rule, not what one should expect. an entity that attempts to unite the politics and agendas of 15 independents. nations.
The Windies – divided into six territories representing Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward and Windward Islands groups – have modest resources compared to India’s power, Australia, England and many full cricketing member countries.
Uniting everyone to succeed is extremely difficult, according to former Windies batsman Brendan Nash, who played 21 Tests from 2008 to 2011 after starting his top-class career in Queensland.
“I came from a slightly different angle than where I came into this environment so quickly, which added another level of complexity when you’re trying to get all these nations playing under the same cover.” , Nash said. the roar.
“I wouldn’t say there was a divide, but not the understanding of how to get the best out of certain players from some of the smaller islands. It was very individual at times, like they were doing their thing because that’s all they knew.
“I saw that as one of the biggest challenges – how do you unite everyone and get them on the same page, trying to have a clear focus on how we do things, a mantra.”
Nash said comparisons to teams of champions of yesteryear were mentioned a lot in his day and he wished he had more legends from the past passing on their knowledge.
He added that the Windies suffered from an ongoing resource problem due to a lack of funding for infrastructure for children to play cricket and to have strong routes to the top.
“You have to remember it’s a different environment when you’re talking about third world countries and what might be given to young players in Australia is not available to them.
“They come from a much poorer background and I was seeing players testing for the national team who didn’t have their own equipment because they didn’t have the money,” he said. “They traveled on a bus for two and a half hours to the test matches, it was an eye-opening experience.”
And then there’s the problem of T20 leagues pushing players away from the top-class path to Test cricket with lucrative contracts.
“I really hope the Windies regain some sort of status in the Testing arena,” Nash said. “I think West Indies cricket fans need a good performance (against Australia).
“They have guys now who are at the peak of their careers and they will definitely be challenged in Australia, but you never know with the West Indies. I will encourage them.
Eras of varying success
As they approach the 100th anniversary of their first Test later this decade, West Indies cricket can be broken down into four distinct eras from their humble origins in the 19th century to the present day.
Before World War II: the first team was selected in 1886 to tour the United States and Canada, but it was an all-white team filled with wealthy expatriate British fans. They played their first official Tests in England in 1928 and, before the war, won four of their 22 games, drawing six times.
After the Second World War : with Frank Worrell finally becoming the first full-time black captain in 1960 (incidentally beginning his tenure with the famous Brisbane tie test), the Windies punched well above their weight.
Worrell’s record of nine wins and just three losses in 15 Tests paved the way for Sir Garfield Sobers to be the greatest all-rounder in cricketing history, at a time when the Windies won worldwide respect for their skills, athleticism and sportsmanship.
In the three decades leading up to the historic 1975-76 tour of Australia, they won 45, lost 36 and drew 54, as well as the historic tie, for a success rate of 33%.
1976-95: After being hammered from pillar to pillar by the thunderbolts of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in a 5-1 series rout, captain Clive Lloyd decided to adopt Australia’s intimidating tactics.
Lloyd, who suffered a broken jaw against Thomson, trusted an armada of fast bowlers including Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall to fight fire with fire.
Along with Lloyd, they also had a golden generation of hitters led by one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century in Sir Viv Richards, along with fly-half Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge, and a little later Richie Richardson.
Richards succeeding Lloyd as captain in the mid-1980s and then Richardson in 1991 did not end their dominance. In that two-decade span, their only series defeat was a controversial 1-0 loss to New Zealand amid accusations of biased refereeing.
They went 74-24-57 in their 155 Tests with a success rate of 47.7%, mostly under Lloyd (61), Richards (50) and Richardson (23), collecting the 1975 ODI World Cup trophies and 1979 along the way.
1995-now: Which brings us to the post-glory days era. Just 57 wins from 246 Tests at a rate of 23.17% since Steve Waugh’s 200 wins to land Australia’s victory in Jamaica marked the end of the Windies’ reign in 1995.
In the decade before Brian Lara retired at the 2007 World Cup, as the last legends of the 1990s retired – Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Carl Hooper – the decline was steep. They have won 21% of games under Lara, Hooper, Walsh, Jimmy Adams and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Then Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo brought hope but were lured away from Test by the riches of the T20 leagues and from 2007 to 2015 they only won 15 of 72 Tests to continue downhill.
But over the past seven years the Windies have, without much fanfare, begun to regain respectability, first under Jason Holder and recently with Kraigg Braithwaite as skipper.
They have won 17 of 57 Tests with an improved success rate of 29.82% and they enter this two-game mission in Australia having beaten England 1-0 in three games and Bangladesh 2-0 in a sweep in the Caribbean earlier this year.
Braithwaite told reporters in Perth on Tuesday his side were determined to show they could mix it up with the best of Test cricket over the next fortnight.
“Obviously we were great in the past,” Brathwaite said.
“We always use it as motivation. We’re still aiming to get there, but it’s a process.
“We started this process, in the coming years if we still have younger guys in the group who still prioritize red ball cricket.
“Once we do that and stick together as a group, I think we can improve and reach those great levels.”