The hal­cyon years of the West In­dies

Sportstar - - STATISTICS FEATURE - ANANTH NARAYANAN

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

GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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