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Rekindling the Fire: Why New Windies Could Become Old West Indies

A beleaguered West Indian team seem to be on the road to recovery, as their 2019 World Cup campaign shows.

Rohan Gopakumar | News18 Sports

Updated:June 7, 2019, 8:22 PM IST
Rekindling the Fire: Why New Windies Could Become Old West Indies
The new West Indies exudes a sense of confidence and strength on all fronts, which put them in them the running for the ICC World Cup 2019

Throughout the 70s and 80s, up until a humiliating first round exit in the 1987 World Cup, the West Indies were the undisputed overlords of World cricket. They seemed to produce a spate of cricket legends with no apparent effort. They were feared and respected, for whenever the lanky West Indians bowled, wickets flew or in the least, the unsuspecting batsman was caught off guard by lethal bouncers. And when they chose to wield the bat... it will suffice to say that whoever the opposition was, they were in for a thrashing, that is, until 1987 dawned.

Having cruised to victory in the 1975 and 1979 editions of the ICC World Cup, and missing the trophy by a small margin in 1983, legions of fans were deeply disappointed by a dismal show by the Windies in 1987. They seemed to have arrived at the Nadir. With another first round exit in 1992, it was evident to all that the mighty Caribbeans had hit a rough patch. During this period, they were still going fine in Test cricket.

However, the 90s and 2000s pulled the once-famed West Indian cricket scene into an abyss. A general economic decline and the West Indian Cricket Board's inefficient handling of cricket as one would to a childish past-time rather than as a full-fledged sport, damaged both the team's performance and its reputation. Despite having top notch players including the legendary Brian Lara in the batting line-up, the Windies never managed to find the success that had once been theirs.

Master stroke-makers such as Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle continued to spearhead the team, but a dearth of good bowling and inconsistent batting plagued the team, as a series of largely forgettable World Cup campaigns testify. The side managed to make its way into the semi-finals only once after 1979, when they did so in 1996. This is reflected in their current ICC rankings, for they are now eighth in ODIs, despite a good performance in the shorter T20 format.

However, all hope is not lost. The 2019 World Cup team fielded by the West Indies has already proven their mettle so far. The new West Indian side has power hitters like Andre Russell and Shimron Hetmeyer. A very capable Nicholas Pooran and a savage Chris Gayle could turn any game on its head. So far, they have lodged a colossal 400+ score against the Kiwis, ravaged the Pakistan team, restricted the Aussies to 79 for 5 in twenty overs (only to be saved Nathan Coulter Nile's 92) and a young bowling attack led by Oshane Thomas have returned to a string of lethal bouncers (the so-called 'chin music') reminiscent of 70s glory.

Despite suffering a narrow defeat in its last match against Australia (the resolution of the match being clouded by Gayle's controversial dismissal) the Windies are riding high on their recent good fortune, and if all goes well, we could be witness, after forty long years, to the return of the king.

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