It’s not easy being an England supporter at the best of times. We have a team that loses more than it wins, falling participation levels, and a board that’s about as popular as someone breaking windies in an elevator. It could be worse, however. At least we’re not the Windies.
Normally I back the underdog in sporting contests. Everyone likes a giant killing now and again. This time, however, I just feel bad for the vanquished. World cricket needs a healthy and vibrant West Indies team; therefore it was painful to watch them succumb in embarrassing fashion to Ireland.
Of course, we shouldn’t take anything away from the Irish. They’re making a habit of embarrassing the big boys. They’ve now beaten a test-playing nation at a World Cup four times: Pakistan, Bangladesh, England and now the two time champions, the Windies.
Everyone knows that you can’t take the Irish lightly; they’re determined, play with good spirit, and have quite a few dangerous hitters (as aficionados of county cricket know only too well): Middlesex’s Paul Stirling is one of the meatiest strikers of a ball on the English circuit, Niall O’Brien has thirty scores of fifty plus in List A matches, and we all know about Ed Joyce’s class. No wonder Will Porterfield didn’t see Ireland as underdogs going into the the game.
Having said that, the West Indies side they just beat bear no resemblance to the mighty teams that won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979. Those teams boasted the likes of Greenidge, Haynes, Sir Viv, Lloyd, Kallicharran, Holding, Garner and Roberts. The current vintage has to make do with Dinesh Ramdin and Andre Russell. It’s so sad to see.
It’s really hard to know where West Indies cricket goes from here. I’ve heard suggestions they’ll eventually quit test cricket and focus exclusively on T20s. It would be a crying shame if that happened.
I used to look forward to England’s tests in the West Indies more than any other tour. The cricket was spicy, the carnival atmospheres unique, and the Windies had so many great players worth watching:
There was Richie Richardson in his sunhat, Carl Hooper making the most stylish half-century imaginable, Curtly Ambrose’s grin, and Jeff Dujon taking thunderbolts behind the stumps with consummate grace and skill.
Of course, the time difference was also pretty convenient: get home from work, crack open a few tins and watch the last session. It would be absolutely tragic if all this disappeared from the game for good.
I’m by no means expert on West Indies cricket, and I don’t really understand all the politics – if you can shed some light in the comments section please do so – but it’s clear that something has to be done. The current side look short on talent (with a few exceptions of course) and not particularly motivated either. Heaven forbid, but will they actually qualify for the quarter-finals?
In Other News …
The other thing I quickly wanted to talk about today is the IPL auction. It was very interesting to learn that Kevin Pietersen will be playing alongside Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that dressing room. I imagine the conversations might go something like this:
KP: I hate the ECB.
Ravi: I hate the selectors.
Morgan: I hate the media.
David Warner: I hate pommie b*****ds full stop.
In other, other news, I thoroughly recommend this article I found in Friday’s Guardian. An old friend from school flagged it up on Facebook. It discusses the overly blokey Channel 9 commentary team and makes a few interesting observations about cricket on free-to-air TV.
Interestingly the Aussies have done whatever they can to make cricket accessible to as many people as possible, and as a result cricket remains very much part of their heritage. I was going to say ‘culture’ rather than ‘heritage’, but I think we all know that the words ‘Australia’ and ‘culture’ don’t necessarily mix. Ahem.