For those who grew up watching the glorious days of West Indies cricket, their performance in the Barbados Test would have been hardly surprising. In the Seventies, the Windies would terrorise every team by wrecking their batting line-ups. After decades, when they bowled out England for a paltry 77 in the Barbados Test and then went on to pile up 415 for six, it made me wonder whether I had been transported to those days nearly three decades ago when I followed all West Indies matches closely and adored their supremacy in cricket.
There was a time when everyone spoke about West Indies players with awe. For many years now, we have only been hearing words of sympathy about West Indies cricket. They had slipped down the ranking in all formats of the game, and their few talented players played only in the T20 premier leagues around the world. For a team that is down in the dumps to rise and bowl out the mighty England team for a double-digit score and then pile up a huge total and win by a whopping 381 runs, revealed that they still haven’t lost the traits their predecessors displayed in the past.
So steep was West Indies’s fall from grace that their players have often been ridiculed and fans have snubbed them by refusing to go watch the team in action. It was during such a time that Jason Holder was appointed captain by the selection panel, headed by their former World Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd. Holder was just 23 years old when he took charge of a team with no star players. He was not bothered about criticism on whether he was worthy to lead the team and went about doing his job to win the hearts of everyone.
What impressed me most during my interaction with Holder was his polite behaviour. He has often been criticised as an ordinary cricketer not worthy to be the captain. For such a person to fight back and hit a double century in this Barbados Test while batting at No. 8, shows the depth of his fighting spirit.
West Indies are yet to discover their consistency but one must admit that there is still enormous talent in their country.
There was a time when the Caribbeans were the idols for youngsters, and top performers were compared to their legendary cricketers Viv Richards and Brian Lara. West Indies’ ability to produce performances like the one in Barbados proves that once again, they can become a team to reckon with.
Cricket needs a team like West Indies because their dashing skills are worth watching and it is a wonderful sight to see them dominate matches and then celebrate with their inimitable high-fives.