Since Sir Vivian Richards, one of the West Indies all time cricketing legends, turned 60 four days ago, many people look back, full of nostalgia, and wonder whether the West Indies will ever be as formidable and dominant as they were throughout the 1980s.
Known through the period as the ‘Calypso Cricketers’, the West Indies were a force to be reckoned with and dominated just about every country who challenged them.
Michael Holding, one of the West Indies most dangerous bowling specialists during this unbeatable age, said: “Groups of fans changed the atmosphere in the ground – some said for the worse – but it brought a fervour and was fabulous for us as a team.”
The team, which will forever be looked upon as the ‘dream team’ of West Indies cricket, included such names as Captain Clive Lloyd, pace bowling duo, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, along with batting specialists Gordon Greenidge and Viv Ricards, who in 1985 succeeded Lloyd as Captain of the team.
They made headlines after becoming the first team in test cricket history to whitewash another side on their home soil. They accomplished this feat in 1984 with a 5-0 thrashing of England. To prove this was not a onetime occurrence, the West Indies ‘blackwashed’ England, which was the name given to them after their achievement in 1984, in front of their loyal home fans a year later.
During this glorious and golden age, the West Indies showed the world just how assertive they were, winning 10 out of 11 test series, spanning from 1980 till 1986, which is even more impressive considering the fact that the test series they didn’t was actually a 1-1 draw against Australia in 1981-1982.
With the ruthless attitude they took into every game during 1980-1986, they achieved a record of being undefeated in 27 test matches, which remains unmatched by any other team since.
West Indian fast bowler, Colin Croft, mentioned how privileged he felt to be representing his nation. “I was proud that people could meet me on the street, on the buses and somebody walks up to you and says ‘Why thank you. Because you’ve represented us well” he said.
Unfortunately what goes up must come down, and this proved to be the case for the West Indies towards the end of the decade. Since then they have never been able to find that passion and love for the game, the ‘Calypso Cricketers’ had.
With the age of modernisation upon us, it seems a new breed of cricketers have been born, one that is more concerned about the money and fame, than representing their country.
Joel Garner, another ‘dream team’ member, who was also part of a long lineup of West Indies old school pace bowlers, summed up the new school of players as undisciplined.
With the introduction of shorter versions of the game, more and more West Indian cricketers are being lured to earn quick and easy money, instead of putting on the all whites and playing in the classic test matches for their nation.
Garner, who is disgusted with the attitude of modern day players, said: “We have a lot of players with a lot of talent, but the problem is they do not like to work hard. The only way you become better is by practicing the trade you like. Self-discipline more so than team discipline.”
With these wise words ringing in the ears of current players, West Indies can only pray for the good old times to come back.