Kingston in Jamaica is a sprawling city, chaotic like all metropolises and like everywhere else in the Caribbean island, people bare their mind on a wide variety of topics without a pause. Cricket is one topic they never tire of speaking on and you can see the hurt and despair in their eyes at the pathetic state of the sport they love so much.
Its athletes, represented by the speed demon Usain Bolt, may have assuaged the pain of being reduced to the margins of Test cricket a bit. But the garrulous Black Man, who takes as much pride in the colour of his skin as in the legacy of its great cricketing past, must be for sure rejoicing at the stirring fightback its team put up to stall India’s victory march in the second Test.
I can visualize what the common refrain on the streets and shops of the city would be at the moment. “This man Chase, maan can bat, so maan he can bowl. He ain’t no Richards for sure maan, but what a fight he put up. The rest of the bunch, good for nothing maan but hope they are inspired enough now.”
The passion, intensity and knowledge of a West Indian fan perhaps remains unmatched anywhere in the cricketing world and I dare say even the Indians can’t compete with them in a verbal dual. That a sport which they dominated once is in shambles is a sore point with them. What makes their cricketing tradition so endearing--of bowlers spewing venom and of batsmen tearing the best of attacks apart--that even today there is no country in the world which does not wish a return of the West Indians to their full past glory.
That is the reason why their fifth day’s batting performance in the Kingston Test may have made even many Indians feel happy. Roston Chase is obviously no Richards, there can be none, but his resilience and grit in batting may have shown his team that they can withstand the Indian bowling onslaught.
Performances like this, that come against the trend of play and against heavy odds, can and have changed the course of a series. However, it has to be seen whether what transpired on the final day of the Test was an aberration or a turn-around that should deeply worry the Indians.
One thing it has done for sure, and that is stopping the Indians from being smug and complacent. They know they can’t let their guard down and take victory for granted.
The lack of any crowd presence at the two venues so far and the lackluster West Indian display till the last day of the second Test had provoked me to write that Test cricket is in tatters. The beauty of cricket is its uncertainty and it makes, at some stage or the other, all predictions look ridiculous.
It will be interesting to see whether this series will now see some fight from the West Indians or will it be business as usual. For the shrinking world of Test cricket to survive, the West Indians need to stand up and be counted.