The music of the calypso is so sweet to the ear; so are the West Indies team on cricket field. A team that is a mixture of different countries from a common culture, West Indies have a great tradition in the cricketing annals. Their side of 1970-80s are rated as the best side to play the game ever. However the maladministration and mismanagement from the Board and some insensibility from the players have marred the game in the region. Yet the side produces some Legends like Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul over the years when the side was not in great form.
West Indies’ loss has been Indian Premier League’s gain. The fabulous West Indians are adding to the glory of IPL by leaps and bounds. The reluctance of the Board to give in to the players and vice versa means that quite a few champions who must have been troubling the Australians right now are enjoying the glitz in India.
The first two big names of West Indies cricket are two of the most sought after T20 players. Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard have time and again proved why they are in the radar for every T20 side and franchisee. Infact, the two with Dwayne Bravo play T20s all round the globe. The latest addition to the list of West Indies stars have been Kevin Cooper. He has added depth to the strong Rajasthan Royals side this season.
Chris Gayle is among the first names one would like to zero in on for his T20 side. He has been in trouble with the administration for a long time, thanks to his unyielding ego and an equal one from the opposite side. But Gayle is a force to reckon with in 22 yards. He was initially with Kolkatta Knight Riders but did not make much of the news with the passionate side. However after a snub in the IPL Auctions 2010, a freak injury to Dirk Nannes landed him for Bangalore and since then they had a cloud nine period. Runs flowed never ending from his bat and he ended up winning the Orange Cap for the most run scored by miles. He was the only player to crack two centuries in single edition of IPL and the only time he failed was in the final when Ashwin trapped him in the first over and ended the chances of Mallya’s side. Gayle can be handy with his off spin. The bludgeoning sixes and a cool smile aftermath symbolizes the man. Dhoni may be cool under pressure but Gayle appears as the coolest man in the field. He never lets way for emotions to be shown. After all, is it not the privilege of the bowlers who get whacked by the burly Left hander.
If Gayle was destructive, Dwayne Bravo is clinical as ever. A highly utility player, Bravo can hit some out of the park and his medium pace is as sharp as his batting. Initially with the Mumbai side, Bravo could not get many chances thanks to the presence of his fellow Trinidadian. Chennai took him up at the base price and today he is the integral part of Chennai’s starting XI. His medium pace is providing excellent support to Ashwin and his phalanx of spinners in Dhoni’s armoury. Bravo is adding depth to the Chennai’s power packed hitting and one need not be surprised if he could deliver again for the Defending Champions, are they to make it to the Knock outs.
The biggest gain of IPL has been Mumbai’s Kieron Pollard. In 2009, the inaugural Champions League announced the arrival of a big hitting giant for Trinidad and he was immediately snapped by Mumbai for a huge sum in the following auction. What a debut season he had. Mumbai until 2009 was faltering to deceive. But Pollard’s presence in the XI lifted the side. He can bat and bat big. Those sixes are just carved out of his bat with unusual niche. His bowling in the middle overs has been crucial. He time and again comes with a breakthrough for the richest IPL side with his gentle medium pace. That he is the second name in the batting and bowling cards of this IPL is a evidence of his abilities. If not for anything, Pollard can walk into a side for his fielding alone. The level of commitment he shows in the field is amazing to say the least. He is known for his athletic ground fielding and is quite an incredible catcher in the outfield. Jonty Rhodes will be a proud fielding coach of this man. Mumbai is served on three grounds by this huge man.
Kevin Cooper adds to the list of Calypso kings in IPL. Like his senior Pollard, CLT20 2011 was his launch pad in India and he is among the smartest buys of IPL auction 2012. Rajasthan Royals are served dually with is his hard hitting abilities lower down the order and penetrating bowling. He is the find of this IPL. Cooper is similar to Pollard on all grounds. He hits the ball high and long back into the stands, chips in some useful wickets with his medium pace and is an excellent ground fielder.
Another new name in IPL this season is Sunil Narine. He did have an ordinary outing on his IPL debut but the man is still remembered here for his spells in CLT20 2011. Narine specializes with his mystery ball to go with his leg spin and is a very economical bowler. Last time Chennai found the hard way to get across him in CLT20. Mind you, Chennai boasts of some incredible batsmen for the sub continental conditions and spin bowling in Raina, Dhoni and Hussey. As and when he gets his chance, Narine is sure to rock for Kolkatta.
Other names from the West Indies are Jerome Taylor who was terrific for Pune last season in their failed campaign, Fidel Edwards was giving a big boost to Deccan when they won the Championship in 2009. Marlon Samuels is now a solid middle order batsman for Pune and we need no introduction on his ability. Andre Russell is yet to play for the power packed Delhi but he is another of those never ending stream of hard hitting, pace bowling all rounders from the far West. Bharath despite all the talent failed to have a great IPL and he can correct in future. Darren Bravo when he joins Deccan is likely to boost their weak batting. Sarwan played a few matches but he has been more a test batsman.
Given the wealth of the rock stars, it is really a sad thing that West Indies side is struggling in International arena while their players are integral part of many domestic teams. The shabby administration filled with selfish people is here to blame for the poor performance of the side. But for a tournament like IPL where performers are recognized West Indian stars feel at home. No wonder that quite a few of them chose IPL over the Team West Indies. Sri Lankans, South Africans have all been integral part of many an IPL side. Australians and Kiwis have added depth too. But the ones who bring glamour and variety to the IPL sides have been the Calypso Kings! Truly the Rock Stars of Indian Premier League!!!