Watch Out World, The West Indies Are Back
A week ago the World Twenty20 championships concluded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and had two powerful teams clash for T20 cricket supremacy. The heavily favored host team riding the batting of Captain Mahela Jayawardene and bowling of Ajantha Mendis and the ever conspicuous Lasith Malinga faced off against a young offensive West Indies team.
Two rain shortened matches in the group stage saw the West Indies get off to a sluggish start, but they picked it up in the Super Eight and avenged their rain shortened group stage loss, crushing the Aussies by 74 runs, bowling them “all out” and scoring over 200 runs in the process. The West Indies would not likely repeat this batting clinic against Sri Lanka and would need to bowl very well to come out victorious.
The “Windies” put up 137 runs thanks in large part to Marlon Samuels’ victimization of the usually strong Malinga for five 6s. The bowlers then took over lead by Sunil Narine and St. Lucian captain Darren Sammy bowling Sri Lanka “all out” for 101 runs, capturing the title and improving their T20 ranking to 2nd in the world.
With this victory, the West Indies have moved back into the conversation when it comes to the top international cricket sides. They are continuing to chase the glory years in the 1970s and 1980s when they were considered the kings of cricket. The West Indies are comprised of 15 parts (including 10 independent nations and 3 British dependencies along with the U.S. Virgin Islands and St Maarten). In the 70s and 80s, the West Indies were considered the unofficial world champions as they won both the 1975 and 1979 world cups and lost in the final of the 1983 world cup. In test matches, they were nearly unbeatable winning or drawing every test series which they played from their loss to New Zealand in March of 1980 through the end of the decade. This powerhouse team can be compared to the Soviet Union in hockey during the 80s and early 90s as they were a collection of strong hockey nations, though brought together under far different circumstances and opposed by very few other teams (one of which was Canada, of course). However, the Soviet Union never put together a streak the likes of 27 consecutive tests without defeat as the West Indies did in the first half of the 1980s.
In the 90s and beyond, other nations began to surpass the “Windies” as many of the dominant side retired and other professional and potentially lucrative sports such as baseball and soccer began to soak up the region’s finest athletes, while cricket remained an amateur game. It is only recently that the West Indies have climbed back into contention.
They still hold lower ranks in Test and One-day cricket but their T20 victory is likely the start of a strong resurgence. With many of their players, including Sammy, Samuels, Narine and Chris Gayle in their 20s and early 30s and a strong base of younger talent, the future looks very bright for the West Indies and I would look for them to dominate T20 and likely be a favorite for the 2014 World Cup in Bangladesh. Their fast bowling, powerful bats and high energy make WI cricket a pleasure to watch and follow.
In an era where cricket is as competitive as ever with as many as 8 or 9 nations vying for the top spot in the world, I predict that last Sunday’s dancing and partying will be a common sight in the years to come.