There was a time way back towards the last quarter of the last century when the top dogs of the game were Australia and the West Indies, and their clashes were awaited and followed with bated breath by all those who loved the game of cricket.
After having won the first World Cup in 1975 beating Australia in the finals, the West Indies team went to Australia for a six Test series which was billed as the clash of the champions. However the Australians were so overwhelmingly superior that the West Indies just crumbled and lost that series 5-1.
The pace duo of Lillee and Thomson along with fabulous batting by Greg Chappell totally destroyed the West Indies to such an extent that they had to rethink how to get to the top again.
They played against India immediately after that series and discovered that a four pronged fast attack was the way to go and since then the West Indies have used spinners only to give a bit of rest to their quicker bowlers and to make sure that they stay on the right side of the over rate.
With more and more cricket being played and in different formats too, the fast bowlers realised that if they were to survive even a few years at the top they had to cut down on speed and so the West Indies bowlers were more likely to go full tilt in the first few overs and then focus on bowling a right line and length. No longer was the mantra blast the batsman out, but simply to stay the course.
That the ICC had also decided a few years earlier that the number of bouncers would be limited in an over handicapped them even more. They also did not find quality batsmen and in this century they became the whipping boys of international cricket losing even to Bangladesh, who had hardly won anything beyond the subcontinent.
Today the team looks as if there is a resurgence though the glory days are still far away, they are not the hopeless side they have been the last few years. They play Australia in the semi finals of the ICC World Twenty Twenty and the old rivalry will be great to see.
The Aussies too have had their ups and downs in the last five years after dominating world cricket for a decade and more. Since their cricket is a lot more organised and the Aussies are pretty combative in nature and not laid back and cool as the Windies, they have always been a threat and not taken lightly by any team.
They have not won this format of the game and so will go all out and so the Windies will have a real battle. The opening duo of Watson and Warner are dangerous and the West Indies would do well to have Sunil Narine at them before they settle down.
Hussey has been in form too, but the rest of the batsmen have struggled so the West Indies can pile on the pressure if they get early wickets. They still will have to bat well for even in their team apart from the Gayle-Charles combo and Marlon Samuels, they don’t have batsmen in form.
It may not be like the old days, but it is still a contest worth watching.
Professional Management Group