Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Straight Bat: Goodbye West Indies, defeated by history

Cricket has moved on but West Indies has stood still

Update : 28 Jun 2019, 08:13 PM

My earliest cricket memory is that of watching West Indies play Pakistan in Dhaka in 1959.  Wisden remembers the match: “Fazal, the Pakistan captain, converted the second Test at Dacca into a personal triumph, with twelve wickets for 100 runs, and though Hall threatened to equal this performance... “

Fazal, I remember, standing near the dressing room with a crowd leading a chant of “Pakistan Zindabad" after the victory. And I remember, Wes Hall the legend, streaming in, and hurling balls of grenade masked as leather. If Fazal had guile, Hall had pace.

In that phase, West Indies had Sobers and Kanhai, Hall and Gilchrist, and the team spirit itself. Matches were more innocent and less technical and commercial. Many were not always fit but all had a “sense of cricket”… hand me down colonial values spawned by mad dogs, and Englishmen.

In that inexact age, West Indies could dominate. They would continue to do so for a while, cheered on by bloodless English cricket writers full of hyperbole, and racism whose own life’s were desperately boring, seeing in West Indies the eternal vacation land of their fantasies.

Media treated them like current South Asian media, where in a damp land, cricket is the new religion without divinity. It is not cricket’s fault but of the fans' unfulfilled self needs.

However, cricket has moved on but West Indies has stood still. Nothing was more obvious than that when India inflicted one of the most humiliating defeats on the once most admired team.

Now and then

Compare this 1959 note with WI’s last match:  

“The Indian portion of the tour was one long tale of success. India's cause was scarcely helped by repeated captaincy problems. The team had four leaders during the series, and not once did the eleven men chosen actually take the field. Nevertheless, Gilchrist and Hall established their superiority over the Indian batsmen from the start of the series, and never relaxed their grip.

For the most part, India had neither the batting strength nor the power of attack to subject, or even contain, the West Indies...the West Indies batsmen held the upper hand throughout the series.”

Left outs of history

West Indies is beginning to resemble the left outs of history, those who cannot adjust with time and change. The style they show suits the 60s, the age of high flying flamboyance, Marxist speeches during the day, and hard drinking and wrenching at night are over.

There was bravado and flash, but in today’s world, it is the number cruncher, and the market specialist who rule. The heroes are exact, precise and with all their arrogance will not name themselves “Lord of the Universe.”  It is not childish but yesterday’s brand. It is time to put such people, and style to rest.

India rules because it is mixing both worlds, and WI is losing because it cannot get out of their old world.

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