Why the under 19 World Cup win is special for West Indian cricket
If there was any doubt in people's mind about the relevance of West Indians in cricket, it would have been erased watching the celebrations of their U19 team after the World Cup victory. Cricket is not only about the straight drives, not only about the yorkers and bouncers, not only about a scintillating catch at the boundary, it is also about the entertainment the players bring on the field, it is how these batting, bowling and fielding skills are executed and no other nation in the world executes the hooks, drives and bouncers better than the West Indians.
There is something special about the Caribbean which makes them an integral part of cricket. Be it the swagger of Viv Richards, be it the intimidation of Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall, there is that Caribbean flavour which is different from all others. Even World cricket looks in better shape when West Indies remains a strong team, while when West Indians play well their set of skills on display makes for a great viewing.
U19 win a hope that West Indies has bright young talent
The apprehension in people’s mind about the presence of bright young talent in West Indian cricket is quite obvious. Barring Darren Bravo there hasn’t been any other young West Indian player in the last few years who has withstood the challenges around the world.
There was a time when West Indies was a factory of fast bowlers, that factory now seems defunct. It is disheartening to see young West Indian seamers bowling at 125 km/hr. Fans around the world want the West Indian bowlers to sprint in and deliver thunderbolts at the batsman.
Even the batting talent seems to have reduced in the Caribbeans. No longer are the bowlers afraid of a young West Indian hooking them belligerently on bowling short and driving them mercilessly when the ball is slightly fuller. That swagger combined with consistency was the X factor of West Indian batsman, that X factor seems to have vanished.
The U19 World Cup winning team of West Indies put forward some bright young talents, Alzarri Joseph reminded many of the Holding’s and Marshall’s with his display of brilliant fast bowling while in the batting department, Gidron Pope looked a belligerent striker of the cricket ball. Seeing some of these players, it seems like all is not lost in West Indian cricket, they still have the talent to play high-quality cricket.
Can the senior team take que
Not often do we have a scenario when youngsters can teach the seniors a lesson but the West Indian cricket finds itself in such a quandary. It is a lesson to learn for the senior West Indian team from the youngsters on how to play as a unit. It was the bonding between the young guns in the U19 tournament that played a big part in West Indies achieving the silverware.
There are players in the senior team who won’t admit but they do perhaps give preference to franchise cricket more than the national team. Maybe it’s time they start to ponder over how much a win with the national team can impact the game in the country.
West Indies needs to monitor the progress of these youngsters
Not everything will be rosy for these youngsters as they proceed ahead in their careers. Only Dinesh Ramdin is an established player from the team when the West Indies last reached the finals of the U19 World Cup in 2004. The success at U19 level is far easier to achieve than success later in the career.
There will be players from this U19 team who might not hone their skills enough to reach the next level, there will be players whose careers will be marred by injuries and there will be increased competition for all these players from those who develop their skills a little late in their careers. It will be up to the West Indian board to ensure that players keep their morale high and have the fire in the belly to represent the country.
The administrators have to ensure that there are enough monetary incentives for the youngsters so that they are not lured away by franchises around the world. It will be sad to see a promising young West Indian cricketer retire to play in the MCL. Administrators also have to ensure that the impasse that frequently keeps on developing between them and the players doesn't affect these youngsters mind. This U19 World Cup win can be a shot in the arm for West Indian cricket provided the energy and vibe it has generated is not thrown into trash.