EDITORIAL: Cricket, glorious cricket!

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For a very long time, too long, if you ask us, not many West Indians would describe a game of West Indies cricket as something glorious. To the contrary, for many of us, a game of West Indies cricket was something akin to Chinese water torture – a slow motion drip, drip of ineptitude and lackadaisical play. It was a recurring nightmare of failed dreams and dashed hopes. In fact, since the glorious days of the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties, there was not much to shout about when it came to West Indies cricket.
And all cricketing purists and lovers of the game felt more than a twinge of sadness at this calamitous decline. For example, after the dreadful abdication of the West Indies at Edgbaston in the first Test, the great Geoff Boycott remarked that this was “The worst team that I have seen in over fifty years. It is just sad to see a once-proud cricket team lower than any I have ever seen before … It is quite painful to watch!” Of course, many called on Boycott to retract his impolitic remarks, and he did. But in our opinion, he was speaking that which was manifest!
Interestingly, one of our very own heroes, Sir Curtly Ambrose echoed Boycott’s assessment of West Indies cricket when he said, “I talked with Sir Viv and Sir Andy at length, before and during the Test, about how we used to dominate world cricket. About our pride and passion. That’s what’s lacking!” And he was not done. He noted ruefully that, “It does hurt, and it has reached a point where it is very embarrassing … So far, it has been
pathetic!”
Michael Vaughn, a former England Test captain, was equally morose with his post-mortem after our demoralising defeat last week. Said he, “I really fear that this series could be one of the saddest for Test cricket. Every time that they have come here, they seem to have gotten worse!”
Indeed, in the last several years, in the “game of glorious uncertainties and shifting fortunes,” long-suffering and disillusioned West Indies fans became increasingly certain of one thing – no matter how close we were to a victory, the West Indies team would find a way to lose.  We always found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It was disheartening, to say the least. No honking of horns in the Kingston, Bridgetown, St. John’s and the other West Indian capitals! No hi-fiving in the bars! No excited water-cooler chatter in the offices! No heroes for the playground kids to emulate!  Indeed, there are teenagers among us who have only known of the West Indies as road kill. For their entire lives, they have only known of the West Indies as perennial losers.
 Imagine what this legacy of losing does to the psyche of an aspiring young boy or girl? They are liable to grow up with a serious inferiority complex and a defeatist outlook on life. After all, we agree with the great CLR James’ conclusion that cricket is a metaphor for life! This constant losing is not good!
But that was then, and this is now! We here at OBSERVER media see a light at the end of the tunnel, and we suspect that the downward trajectory of West Indies cricket is about to change. Of course, one victory does not a trend make, but we certainly hope that Tuesday’s solid five-wicket win by the West Indies over England in the second Test at Headingley will be the beginning of the West Indies and a winning way. In other words, the West Indies cricket team finding some momentum and getting its groove back. It has been a long time coming! With the series now tied at one game a-piece, the stage is set for a most dramatic and intriguing finale at Lord’s next week.
Can we (sigh) dare to believe? Can the West Indies really snag a Test series from England after a nearly two-decade-long drought? Or was this win a fluke, and the West Indies will stay true to form and revert to their bumbling and losing ways?  To the ‘Doubting Thomases’ we say, “Oh ye of little faith!” We submit that this is the team, under the seemingly visionary leadership of coach Stuart Law and the captaincy of Jason Holder, that will return the West Indies to the halcyon days of cricket, glorious cricket! Forget Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy. With impressive youngsters, like the aptly named, Shai Hope, who had two glorious knocks of 147 and 118, Kraigg Brathwaite’s 134, and Jason Blackwood’s solid 49 and 41, and with the admirable wicket hauls by Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Roston Chase, the future bodes well for West Indies cricket. Especially with our championship under-19 squad dutifully grooming itself to eventually man the crease and take the field.
Many of us will not be there at the cricketing mecca next week, but it is a good bet that every West Indian in the Diaspora, from Manchester to Nottinghill to Leicester, will be there, and rooting for our boys! Work will occasionally come to a halt in many quarters here in the islands as folks tune in to what promises to be an epic contest between the experienced Englishmen and the youthful exuberance, pride and raw talent of our boys. We are true believers that our boys will prevail! Where is Tantie Merle when we need her? And what about Papi to blow the bugle? No doubt they will be watching from the pavilion of the Great Beyond as cricket, glorious cricket returns to the West Indies! Stay tuned!
 We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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