It’s tempting to think of the West Indies’ dramatic victory in the World T20 championship as the beginning of a new era for Caribbean cricket, coming as it does in tandem with the West Indies women’s victory and on the heels of a fine triumph in the Under-19 World Cup.
It certainly sent a strong message to the West Indies Cricket Board, which has been at loggerheads with the team and kept senior players out of the Test and One-Day International arena.
Victory is clearly a magnet: The chief of the board, Dave Cameron, has agreed to meet with the players after the IPL in May and promised to address their concerns, there are hopes domestic cricket will get a financial fillip, sponsors will queue up and youngsters will gravitate towards the game instead of basketball and baseball.
A strong West Indies team is in the interests of the game. Over the years, their cricketers have been the ultimate entertainers, and there’s enough sign that Carlos Brathwaite — he of the four successive sixes — and his ilk are capable of carrying forward that tradition. It has the potential of redressing the financial power imbalance in the global game, dominated by India, Australia and England.
That the team was spurred by an inadvisable comment by commentator Mark Nicholas about it being “short of brains” suggests that West Indies cricketers still have some pride after all; it brought back memories of the thrashing handed out to Tony Greig’s Englishmen decades ago after similarly offensive comments.
It’s good to retain some perspective. Before the beginning of 2016, West Indies, once the powerhouse of world cricket, had lost seven Tests in the last 10 they played and lost as many ODIs.
Longer forms of the game, especially Test cricket, demand technique, application and sheer bloody-mindedness that the team has simply not displayed in recent years.
No one is predicting a return to the days of Garry Sobers and Viv Richards, but a beginning has been made. It would be a pity to waste the afterglow of the event; administrators and players need to bury the hatchet and work for the good of the game.