Do International Footballers Get Paid For Playing For Their Country Finally A New Dawn For The West Indies?

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Finally A New Dawn For The West Indies?

Ignoring the controversy surrounding India’s decision to call off the Test match needing 86 off 90 balls, their counterparts were steadily improving. Since losing the series 2-1 against Australia in 1995, West Indies have fallen from the top spot in world cricket. Players like Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall and Sir Viv Richards (to name a few) retired in a 5-year period that destroyed a young team over a long period of time.

But are we about to witness a renaissance of one of the most exciting sides, historically, in world cricket?

First, here’s a comparison of West Indies’ performance in the Test series before and after Australia’s loss:

1980-1994: 29 played, 20 wins, 9 draws, 0 losses

1995-present: 50 played, 13 wins, 7 draws, 30 losses

Note: Just a glance at these stats highlights what a fantastic team West Indies were in the 80s and early 90s. A possible future article could be their comparison and the exploits of the Australian team that wrested from them the ‘greatest cricketing side in the world’.

Now, let’s further examine the subsequent West Indies team’s performance:

1995-2003: 25 played, 10 wins, 2 draws, 13 losses

2004-present: 25 played, 3 wins, 5 draws, 17 losses

When you consider that these 3 wins came against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and an England team still reeling from the Pietersen-Moores debacle, it adds up to a stunning collapse of a great cricketing nation.

This barren spell for the Windies also includes whitewashes against South Africa, Australia and England and a 2-0 defeat at home to Bangladesh in 2009.

However, a side suddenly sprouted into life under Darren Sammy’s captaincy and boasted a number of exciting young talents alongside some more experienced campaigners. Of course, we have been down this road before with the West Indies. Who can forget Dwayne Smith and his 93-ball century on Test debut against South Africa. One of the most naturally gifted batsmen in terms of ability to see and hit the ball, Smith averaged 16.22 in 77 ODIs for the West Indies.

Note: For comparison, Brett Lee has taken 349 wickets at an average of 16.25 in 201 ODIs. I know who I have on my side.

Even today we are treated to the occasional hilarious innings of Kieron Pollard – a man who was bid $750,000 by 4 IPL franchises (I wonder?) for cricketing or marketing reasons. However, Pollard has so far scored just 4 50s in 42 ODIs and has a T20 average of 12.33. Hardly the kind of stuff that keeps fast bowlers up at night.

But, now the Windies have introduced young players who are starting to perform consistently for them instead of holding their place in the team on untapped potential. Among them is Darren Bravo, teammate Dwayne’s half-brother, who has drawn comparisons to none other than the great Brian Lara (incidentally, his second cousin). For a left-handed batsman who plays in a similar style to the Trinidadian legend, that is commendable considering his failure to score a century in Tests or ODIs so far. Furthermore, one only needs to look at the number of Brazilian and Argentinian footballers labeled as the next Pele or Maradona to put this pressure on a youngster. However, averaging 40 and 33 in respective form is an encouraging start for a 22-year-old who still has time on his hands.

Kemar Roach is another who was brought into the team at the age of 19 and has impressed critics. Capable of bowling as fast as 93mph, Roach made his international debut in a T20 match against Australia in 2008 and had previously played only 4 first-class matches. Finishing with match-best figures of 2/29 gave an indication of his immense potential. So far, Roach has averaged under 30 with the ball in all forms of cricket. Even more impressive, he led an inexperienced Windies attack in Australia in 2009, hailed as a future star by Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell. Roach also became Man of the Series the following year in Sri Lanka – a country known for providing slow and dusty pitches unsuitable for fast bowlers. A hat-trick against the Netherlands at this year’s World Cup helped him move to a career-best figure of 6/27.

Both Devendra Bishoo and Kirk Edwards have recently become regulars in both formats. Bishu. A leg-spinner, he has impressed many with his aggressive style of bowling and is regarded as one of the Windies’ primary wicket-takers. His post-match interviews are even more interesting! Edwards recently scored a 110 against India on his Test debut to help keep the match tied: showed great determination and grit in his innings.

Add to these young players the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul (who, at 36, is still going strong with a recent century against India), Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Saravan, and there is a core group of players to make an exciting fresh start. Caribbean.

Despite this, questions still linger around the team. Former captain Chris Gayle’s long-running dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board has long overshadowed his recent performances (which can be summarized here). Indeed, the saga underscores the lack of professionalism still inherent in Windies’ administration since the 2009 pay disputes.

Moreover, there are still question marks surrounding captain Darren Sammy’s suitability for a place in the squad. The captain has failed to justify his selection as an all-rounder and Kemar Roach’s series of poor performances with the bat has overshadowed his mediocre success with the ball. However, in a recent interview with Cricinfo, Sammy highlighted his determination to build professional ethics, high fitness levels and greater exposure to young talent to take his team forward.

Sammy has stated his aim to reach the top 5 with the West Indies by 2015. After years of selecting only the best players for the captaincy, perhaps the English approach of prioritizing leadership skills over talent (Hussain, Atherton, Vaughan and Cook in ODIs) may prove to be the right way to steer this proud cricketing nation in the right direction.

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