The halcyon years of the West Indies
This is a nostalgic look into the powerhouse that the West Indies were and a wistful reminder of how those gentle giants strode around the world as invincible gladiators.
Recently, many of us who had watched Test matches during the late 19■0s and the ’90s shed a silent tear to see the depths to which West Indian cricket had sunk, especially in Test cricket. Although West Indies, despite the absence of many of their ‘mercenary’ stars, redeemed themselves in the Oneday International series, the fall in Test cricket was tough to digest. Another innings would not have prevented an innings defeat at Rajkot. They started well at Hyderabad but fell off inexplicably.
I decided to revisit the scene of the West Indian halcyon years between the 1970s and the turn of the century. This is with a view to bring to light the type of dominance that the West Indies exerted during the middle period in these years. Maybe a nostalgic look into the powerhouse that the West Indies were and a wistful reminder of how those gentle giants strode around the world as invincible gladiators. In addition, for those younger viewers to Test cricket, it is a peek into the heights that were reached by the Caribbean giants.
I have earlier looked at the powerhouse that West Indian bowling was in those years. This time, just to get clarity, I decided to include the batsmen, too the heady combination of matchwinners, which led West Indies to those 15 years of unparalleled greatness.
Andy Roberts played his first Test for the West Indies at Bridgetown on March 6, 1974 against England (Test No. 734). Courtney Walsh played his last Test at Kingston on April 19, 2001 against South Africa (Test No. 1,544). The West Indies played 226 Tests during these 27 years and this is the period I intend looking into.
The career summaries of the eight pace bowlers who played during these years are given in the table to the left Let me draw a timeline of the eight pace bowlers and seven top batsmen who played during these three decades. However, I will make it clear that this article is primarily about the West Indian bowling strengths and the batsman, Brian Lara included, only play a secondary
Fearful foursome: When (left to right) Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner were at their peak, the West Indies ruled the cricket world.