by Stephen Vagg/The Roar
In the 1980s the West Indies weren’t just the best team in the world – they were the scariest.
That never ending supply of fast bowlers; those brutal, swaggering batsmen. The incredible fielding; their ability to bail themselves out of any situation, no matter how dire.
They didn’t just beat teams, they destroyed them. They caused captains to retire in tears and flee to apartheid South Africa. They sent players regularly to hospital and they induced nervous breakdowns.
As the 1990s went on, the team gradually became more mortal and was toppled as world champs by Australia in 1995. The decline continued gradually, though any team with Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara was always going to be competitive.
Then in the late 90s the depression hit – and it’s never ended. The West Indies have been consistently crap for almost 20 years – you have to go back to before World War Two to find an era like it in their history.
They remain a world power in Twenty20 cricket but that’s it. Apart from the odd session, they never look like they’re in with a remote chance of beating us, either here or in their own backyard.
Every series victory we have over them feels like nothing. I don’t think any serious observer gives them a chance in hell this summer.
This is why it’s such a shame we are getting a second rate West Indies squad. They’ve left out a bunch of their most experienced and/or famous players to use a lot of kids. Maybe these kids will be stars of the future – but considering the Windies track record over the past two decades, I doubt it.
Why not pick the stars? I read press reports about players being selfish and having poor attitudes and being one day players rather than Test ones. Who really cares? This is international Test cricket, not a GPS private school.
If the West Indies are going to lose, I wish they’d at least lose entertainingly – and that would mean playing their best possible side.
For no real reason other than to vent some of my spleen at having to watch a sub-standard series over the Christmas break, this is the team I wish we were playing.
- Chris Gayle
36 years old, erratic as hell, but anyone who averages 42 after 103 Tests has class, just as anyone who has a strip club in his own house is always going to be entertaining.
No matter what form trough Gayle finds himself in, every time he comes out to bat you still find yourself asking “is this going to be one of those days?”
He’s wasted playing Big Bash. I don’t care who he’s annoyed at the WICB, and whose daughter or girlfriend is dancing in his house, Predator should be in the Test team.
- Kraigg Braithwaite
A promising batsman who should be allowed to develop with some old heads around him as opposed to being a prematurely senior player.
- Darren Bravo
Sheer class, the leader of the West Indies batting but could do with a little less pressure on his shoulders.
- Jermaine Blackwood
See Braithwate, Kragg. These two and Bravo do offer genuine hope for the future.
- Shiv Chanderpaul
Marlon Samuels has had his moments and offers a useful spin option but I can’t see how you could go past the legend that is Shiv. I get that he’s old, weezy, decrepit, looks as though he’s losing it, etc but he still averages over 50 in Tests – something, say, Mike Gatting never did when he came out here in 94-95.
There’s nothing wrong with youth but you don’t have to go all youth – and he still wants to play. The new kids aren’t matching him. If he sucked in the tour games, he sucks, you drop him, you can put in Samuels, but Shiv should be here.
- Kieron Pollard
Don’t laugh. We’ve all seen plenty of him in Twenty20 cricket, and he’s only played 27 first class games – but his record there is pretty good, and he knows how to win. Maybe he’d be atrocious but I’d love to see him play a Test and he always says he wants to play one.
It would add at least some interest to this contest, i.e. to see whether Pollard would choke or not? I would play Holder only – and I repeat only – if Pollard isn’t available. (I know he’s injured now but that doesn’t stop me wishing he was picked in the first place)
- Dwayne Bravo
An old school West Indies calypso legend from the Collis King school: bouncers, blondes and boundaries. He has delivered some great performances and has a decent-ish Test record. He and Pollard would counter balance each other nicely. He should be playing.
- Denesh Ramdin
Good keeper, solid record. I have no idea if there’s any more brilliant keepers out there in the Windies but Ramdin does a decent enough job.
- Jerome Taylor
On his day a devastating player and if only he had more support he might turn into a great.
- Kemar Roach
Roach is a good-ish fast bowler who, like Taylor, could have been more with better totals to bowl to.
- Devendra Bishoo
Bishoo’s Test average isn’t that impressive (38 compared to a first class average of 26) but he does have the capability to win matches with the ball, which is something the Windies badly need.
Yes I am aware four of my West Indies XI aren’t in the squad and one of them is injured, but you don’t get more fascinating enigmas than Gayle, or bigger mysteries than Pollard – which would at least make it an interesting contest.
As it is, this year’s Frank Worrell Trophy is liable to be a slaughter that’s only for the benefit of players’ averages and/or making the Big Bash look better.
Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of GrenadaSports.
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grenadiansports