Playing to the beat of the Calypso had long become non-existent. Thereafter, defeats began to outnumber victories on a consistent basis, especially over the last decade.
What followed was sheer embarrassment for the West Indies. After missing the main round of last year’s T20 World Cup, the once-cricketing giants will not be seen in this year’s ODI World Cup either. And both of these are competitions the Windies have won twice each. Precisely, the failure to make the 50-over World Cup underlined that cricket in the Caribbean is at its nadir. In the World Cup qualifiers, they first lost to Zimbabwe and then making it worse, couldn’t defend a humongous 375-run target against associates Netherlands.
Their absence couldn’t have been more painful, particularly for those who have witnessed the unbeatable teams of the 70s and 80s led by the legendary Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.
Surprisingly, the Windies were extremely inconsistent in the ODI format even when the likes of Brian Lara, Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo were at their peaks. They did win the Champions Trophy in 2004 and finished runners-up in the 2006 edition of the tournament, but those were like flashes in the pan.
In fact, after the 1996 edition of the showpiece, the Windies could never reach the last-four stage of the 50-over World Cup.
“The West Indies cricket administration has shown little appetite for partnering with the ICC (International Cricket Council) to develop a strategy for ‘resurrection’ of Windies cricket. Instead, it seems to lurch from one situation to another that each time threatens the total demise of Windies cricket.
“The premier players of the country also cannot be excused from the leadership role that they must play if Windies cricket is to begin to reverse the current on-field trends,” former Australia head coach John Buchanan told The Telegraph.
“I wonder what a ‘1975 version’ of Clive Lloyd would have done today with a talented group of players that needs leadership, a direction and clear purpose for what they do on-field as well as off. Are the current crop of players inspiring young boys and girls to want to play for their island nation and then go on to represent their country?” Buchanan pointed out.
Members of the victorious West Indies team with the 1979 Cup. File photo
THE ‘WINDIES FEEL’
In the age of globalisation, are the current crop of cricketers, like Nicholas Pooran, still passionate about the West Indies? Do they have the same “Windies feel” that their predecessors used to?
“The world has changed so much. So, in today’s age, a cricketer will be putting his own interests and that of his family above everything else and would be keen to play the lucrative T20 leagues across the world,” Windies selector Roland Butcher, also the fi rst-ever black cricketer to represent England, said.
“This is a problem which not just the Windies, but even the other cricket Boards are facing. We might as well see South Africa missing some of their regulars for the New Zealand Tests next February as they clash with the SA20 (the franchise-based T20 league in South Africa).
Buchanan also blamed the ICC for “showing little leadership” and not being active in helping Windies cricket revive. “If they (ICC) have a vision of taking cricket to the world, then a key component of that is a vibrant and successful cricket system across the islands of the West Indies.
“On the surface, it has sat by and watched Windies cricket implode. Why has it not used its immense resources to partner with Windies cricket to develop coaching systems throughout all countries in the Caribbean? Why has it not also helped set up legacy systems for curators, groundstaff, umpires and all the various support roles that national and international teams demand?
“Why has it waited for the Caribbean T20 league, richly subsidised by IPL teams and private ownership, to take the lead?” Buchanan questioned.
Can Windies cricket be revived? “One important answer lies in leadership — ICC, Windies cricket administration, and players past and present. Put egos and differences to one side,” advised Buchanan.
“West Indies has a very proud cricket history and tradition. It’s not too late to re-unite.”
1987: Group-stage exit
1992: League-stage exit
1999: Group-stage exit
2003: Group-stage exit
2007: Super-8s exit
2019: League-stage exit
2023: Failed to qualify