A West Indies revival? Don't count on it!

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 16, 2012 20:09 hrs
West Indies beat Sri Lanka to win World Twenty20

There are many thinking that the recent West Indies victory in the T20 World Cup will revive the Caribbean nation. But that is merely wishful thinking for the Windies have been performing abysmally for too long now.

More than a decade of inconsistency cannot be wished away by one tournament win, especially since the T20 is the most unpredictable of the three formats and sometimes resembles a lottery.

Take India for example. We won four out of five of our WC T20 matches to become No. 2 in the ICC T20 rankings only to be kicked out. We had just one off day and you really can’t blame MS Dhoni for it. The Aussies have the biggest weakness for spin and especially on Sri Lankan soil.

On any other day any one of R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh would have been too much for the Aussies. But on that day all of them drew a blank. That was a freakish match.

Coming back to the Windies, when's the last time they won an ODI or Test series against a Top 5 team? That happened way back in 2009, when they beat England 1-0 on home soil in a 5-match Test series.

In 2008, they beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in ODIs.

In 2007, they beat England 2-1 in ODIs.

In 2006, they beat India 4-1 in ODIs.

In 2004, they won the ICC Champions Trophy.

In 2002, they beat India in ODI series both at home and away.

In 2001, they won the Coca Cola Cup that featured India.

In 2000, they beat Pakistan 1-0 in Tests.

In between they have got thrashed by all the top sides and won most of their matches against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and struggled against these weak sides too. Either that or they have won one-off T20 internationals against top sides or curtailed ODI series.

That does not make very much pretty reading.

The truth is that the West Indies post-2000 has just come out with one good quality match- winning series every 1-2 years, playing abysmal cricket in between. After drawing blank in 2010 and 2011, by the law of averages they were on to something big in 2012 and the T20 WC fit the bill.

Going by their track record, their next big win is now 1-2 years away!

The problem is that the cricketing world simply does not play enough international T20s and ODIs and Tests still rule the roost. That's where the Windies will continue to struggle.

The Caribbean team has a lot of attacking batsmen and have found a world class spinner in the form of Sunil Narine, but their pace attack still has a long way to go to be anywhere near the best in the world or even near the menacing status that their own team had in the 1970s and 1980s.

It's the biggest mystery how the team which had a battery of fast bowlers to scare the rest of the world for decades once, now cannot even produce a single quick who can be as menacing as a Dale Steyn.

In fact at the time of writing this article, there was just one West Indies bowler in the list of the ICC Top 25 Test bowlers. It's very difficult to win consistently with such a weak bowling attack.

Cricket is steadily losing popularity in the West Indies and one good tournament will not change that. For interest to be revived, they will have to start playing on a more consistent basis. That is simply not happening in the ODI scene while in Tests, it is ranked seventh, which is their best rankings in ages!

Both India and England used the T20 WC wins as launch pads to dominate the scene in all three forms of the game. West Indies simply doesn't have the firepower to do a similar thing. That way their victory is more like Pakistan’s T20 WC in 2009: A more of a flash in the pan kind of thing.

The West Indies Cricket Board could use this opportunity to launch a new programme to revive cricket in the Caribbean nation. Just hoping that the T20 WC win will do the trick will simply not work.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/

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