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Missing: The joy called West Indies

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Desperate times require desperate measures. From whatever I have read about Fire in Babylon, it seems like one of those last ditch efforts to revive and resuscitate the once glorious West Indian Cricket.

Not that I mind it really. What I really mind is the fact that West Indies Cricket has fallen into kind of rut where the talent pipeline looks so dry. It is almost like a serene lake perched atop the Himalayas and rich in minerals running dry due to effects of global warming, leaving a true Cricket fan thirsty for more! So like the effects of global warming, this one also looks like an effort that will generate more buzz than inspire action!

What it means to a real cricket aficionado is hard to put down in words. When the mind’s eye closes itself and the grainy image of a Michael Holding whispering to the crease runs across, one knows what we have been robbed of, by the tide of time or apathy of administration. Put your blame where you like, but it is not easy to live with the fact that the West Indies of yore is neither a force to reckon with nor the minnows that we can totally ignore. That is the real pain.

For every time a team visits those magic islands, one is greeted by the serene islands inhabited by the folks who know their Cricket, know how to enjoy the good life, sway to the delightful beats of calypso and reminisce the olden days of West Indies Cricket like it happened just the last night. The visiting teams came to West Indies with an intention to test themselves against a side that played like there was no tomorrow, ran in to scare with ball or walked up to the crease to intimidate.

Forget being challenged, the visiting teams hardly think West Indies to be a challenge anymore. In good ole’ days, a batsman transformed himself into a great batsman if he withstood the barrage of the West Indian pace quartet- a la Gavaskar. It was one frontier which every Cricketer worth his salt wanted to conquer. If you came out of a West Indies tour with your reputation intact, you as a bowler or a batsman could walk with your held high.

How things have changed in last couple of decades can be judged by the fact that Sachin Tendulkar decides to skip the test series, and so does Yuvraj Singh, who desperately needs to secure the test spot! West Indies now has become a ‘what’s the point’ kind of a tour for the players who get their adrenaline rushing the moment they think of visiting Australia, England, or South Africa.

The pride of the West Indian fan has taken a beating with the kind of players who have played in recent times, who have looked as interested in beating the opposition as Mr. Manmohan looks to be in fixing the corruption in India! The administrators have done no good either with their shabby treatment of players over the years. There has hardly been a good West Indian player in recent times who hasn’t had a run in with the West Indian Cricket Board.

Despite all that seems to be wrong with West Indian Cricket, every time Chris Gayle waves from the gallery one hopes that one day things will be back like those good old days. Every time one watches the highlights of Lara dispatching McGrath through cover and Darren Bravo does the encore, one grimaces with the thoughts of ‘what if’.

Sometimes I feel that if god had decided to play Cricket, he would have played it like they played in West Indies- with pure gay abandon, earthy yet refined, determined to win but sporting as always. Like one doesn’t grudge the God, one doesn’t the West Indies. Then I wonder why he has chosen to look the other way from this beautiful nation. Or from this beautiful game for that matter.


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