Look what we have come to!

Saturday, May 05, 2012    

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We ask your forgiveness as we dwell in a bit of nostalgia, but we believe it is necessary at this time, given the scathing comments in the English press on the eve of the West Indies tour of England.

It's not that we are deeply offended by what is being said by the cricket scribes in Britain. We are, though, very unhappy that we have so mismanaged West Indies cricket that one newspaper columnist could boldly comment that had the Olympics gone to Paris, the West Indies would probably have been given only two Tests, and that the West Indies "are, in truth, beneficiaries of a quirk in the schedule".

That the West Indies cricket team has come to this sad pass is indeed heart-rending. However, it represents the cyclical nature of competitive sports, for we remember well the days when the team reigned supreme, when those who would dare face them on the pitch would be dispatched with clinical efficiency and humbled into silence.

England, for example, suffered two humiliating whitewashes in the five-Test series in 1984 in England and in 1986 in the West Indies.

In the 1984 series, the West Indies won the first Test at Edgbaston by an innings and 180 runs.

The second Test, at Lord's, saw England scoring 286 in the first innings with Messrs Chris Broad and Graeme Fowler sharing an opening partnership of 101.

In reply, the West Indies put up 245 runs, giving England a 41-run lead which they capitalised on by scoring 300 for nine in their second innings.

English hopes soared as the West Indies had a target of 342 to win, with England having the best part of a day to bowl out the visitors.

However, Messrs Gordon Greenidge and Larry Gomes went to the wicket determined not to yield, and in what one writer aptly described as "a remarkable exhibition of batting", the West Indies knocked off the score in a mere 66 overs, losing only one wicket. Mr Greenidge scored a massive 214 not out, while Mr Gomes made an unbeaten 92, handing England a crushing nine-wicket defeat.

The remainder of the series was sweet music to the West Indians, as they took the third Test at Headingley by eight wickets; the fourth Test at Old Trafford by an innings and 64 runs; and the fifth and final Test at The Oval by 172 runs.

Cricket historians tell us that that tour turned out to be the fifth five-Test whitewash in history, but even more significant, it was the first to occur in England.

Two years later, when the West Indies rubbed salt into the English team's wounds during the home series, West Indian pride was at its peak and remained elevated when the West Indies won the 1988 series in England 4-0.

Since then, the West Indies have managed to win only four of the 11 Test series between both teams, with England inflicting an embarrassing whitewash on the regional team in the 2004 four-Test series in England. But even more important for the Caribbean people, the game that gave the West Indies a 1-0 victory in the 2009 Test series saw the regional team crushing the Englishmen by an innings and 23 runs at Sabina Park.

That we are about to embark on a three-Test series in England without some of our best players speaks volumes about the management, or lack thereof, of our cricket. It is a very depressing state of affairs that has been dragging for too long and it needs to be fixed now. Caribbean pride is at stake.





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