It seems amazing to us that there will be cricket fans, more than just a handful of young sprites, who will not remember the West Indies being anything but a bunch of no-hopers. It is 12 years since King Curt retired and more than 11 since King Courtney bowed out. Of course, the great West Indians are familiar to us all via any number of sources, inter alia, youtube, Fire in Babylon and Mikey Holding on the television, but for anyone as fresh-faced as parsley, they’ve always been crap, even when the batting was headed by a certain left-hander from Trinidad. In the last six years, not even an Octogenarian Shivnarine Chanderpaul could prevent them being no better than crap (look, they never defeated England in the 2000s, no matter what the history books say).
But in 2012, after years of false dawns and more in-fighting than in the 51allout bathroom queue the morning after The Night Of Free Gin, the boys are back. Back with a capital B! Hurrah!
Who to thank? The United Nations Peace Envoy who settled the seemingly ceaseless battle between Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board? The man who inspired Marlon Samuels resurgence, Nasser Hussain? As deserving as these might be, the answer surely is the captain. Roll Over, Frank Worrell and tell Clive Lloyd the score: superstar DJ Sammy is the most unlikely of West Indian heroes, severely limited in skill, but overflowing in leadership ability (and possibly, crucially, luck).
Yes, okay, they lost 2-0 to Australia at home, but they drew both the ODIs and the T20s. Their tour of England, despite two defeats, contained several highlights (not least Dinesh Ramdin’s century, Sammy’s century and Tino Best’s almost-century). Home again, they then thumped New Zealand (to be fair, who doesn’t?) and as the year’s end came nearer, they overcame Bangladesh away from home – albeit they lost the ODI series 3-2.
Their general upswing in fortune can be attributed to more than one performer. Kieran Powell, Samuels and Chanderpaul each scored three Test hundreds. Kemar Roach led the bowling with 39 wickets at 22, with Tino Best somehow delivering a return of 18 at 16.27. Narsingh Deonarine did well too, taking 15 wickets cheaply.
However, we can’t solely talk about Test cricket. Not this year. Not when they danced – literally – through to World T20 success. Just to refresh your memories, here are a few extracts from our live blog on 7th October 2012:
14.59 – Nichael Bluth
“This is possibly the biggest shambles I’ve ever seen.”
15.15 – James Knight
“They’re all terrified of getting out to such an extent that they dug themselves into a huge hole and now no one has any timing or confidence or anything. There is absolutely no way they win from here.”
17.44 – Nichael Bluth
“Kieron Pollard: World T20 winner
Johnson Charles: World T20 winner
Darren Sammy: World T20 winning captain
We live in ridiculous times.”
Yes, it is ridiculous, but the West Indies are back! Cherish it, whilst the dawn is still bright and before it fades.