Yes, It died long back. But, every time I see a West Indies collapse and the repercussions of ‘The Fall of Giants’ does the round in a vehement bout of passion and cricketing folklore.
As India trounced the Windies in their backyard in the ongoing series, I withstood a gamut of emotions and cricketing history that’s embedded in a sorry state of affairs. Yes, I am particularly impressed with the way India has scored a thumping victory under the KK leadership – Kohli and Kumble. But at the same time, I see how devastated Cricket stands in the islands of the Caribbean.
Yes, I keep reinstating that I believe in legacy. Legacy is an opportunity to keep your glory days alive and withstand the sheer passion – as an individual and as a country to relive the memories of astounding feats and exploits of a superpower. Sadly, West Indies have lost both. I am not ready to believe that the current crop of players and administration don’t know their history – 2 big men were part of the mighty West Indies, way back then and I can see their heads sever in shame. Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh. Apparently, the last test match was played on Viv Richards turf – his expression of agony and reparation was inconveniently visible in his statement to Telegraph after the Indian victory.
Let’s have a massive throwback. In the 60s and 70s, England and Australia were pepping up with some serious fast bowling. Fast bowling with real pace. I vividly remember couple of videos from the fast bowling machines of the era and it will gives you a riveting display of what the batsman had to encounter those days. West Indies stuck venom with their ‘Fearsome Foursome’ and fast bowling was never the same gain. Spells from Jeff Thomson and Michael Holding will make the fast bowlers of our generation look like kindergarten – with all due respect, we must admit that quality fast bowling has seen dispersing decline over the years.
A mere look at the West Indies line up in the 70s and 80s will tell us why they were masters of the game. The bandwagon opens up with Haynes and Greenidge, you luckily dismiss them and you will see Llyod and Viv Richards follow through. Jeff Dujon could keep and bat as well, that makes him an allrounder. The bowling department is handled by Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall. A god send team with phenomenal abilities. A team that could post imposing totals, chase herculean scores and take 20 wickets in a test match consistently. Individual brilliance, yes. But, it was a menacing team that ran havoc for more than 15 years in world cricket. Remember, I am not even talking about the Sobers era, phew!
Even in the days of Lara led Windies, they still possessed a valuable team but never had the steel to win matches or even come close to what their predecessors achieved in 2 decades.
The decline of West Indies is largely attributed to multiple factors. Legacy needs to be nourished and bought up by able hands. West Indies came a cropper as they decided to bask in their undisputed glory but failed to build an empire on their imperious past. Plus, their problems with the administration and governance have only multiplied. Despite former greats like Clive Llyod, Richie Richardson and Joel Garner at the helm, motivation levels have been a pale shadow of what the West Indies were known for.
‘Fire in Babylon’, the docu-drama on the mighty West Indies story is a revelation. When the world was battling issues on racism and dominance in a paranoia of diverse communities, West Indies and Cricket were a lethal combination. Their dominance over the game came from 2 factors – discrimination and passion. It tells a poignant story of perhaps the greatest fall from glory in any team sport in the world. It’s a pity that West Indies now only have their T20 victories and IPL exploits to rave about.
I am not sure if West Indies will ever redeem even a semblance of their glory days. But their story and subsequent fall from grace is a lesson for other teams. Times change, teams change, game changes but passion can never die. Passion is human and sports is all about human resilience. Yes, we like our teams to win but we equally admire a team that goes down fighting like a wounded lion hungry for glory.