Debunking the myths about the West Indies
Thu, Oct 18, '12
The all-conquering West Indies sides of the 1970s and 1980s are probably the most eulogised in the history of cricket. Supremely talented, charismatic and entertaining, the team’s records – going over a decade without losing a Test series, for example – speak for themselves. Even more evocative are the stories of fans, players, and commentators, of chin music, the calypso atmosphere, and tyros with nicknames like Big Bird and Whispering Death. Anybody watching the film Fire in Babylon gets just a hint of the admiration cricket lovers have for Sir Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Gary Sobers, and many more legends of the game.
For fans of my generation, further exploring the West Indies’ marvellous history only emphasises the gulf between the team that won the first two World Cups and that which has represented the islands in recent years. Despite Brian Lara’s record Test innings of 400 not out in 2004, the past two decades have been a period of steady decline, characterised by selection inconsistencies, falling crowds, sponsorship disputes, and simple mediocrity.
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