The latest edition of World T20 has got us new Champions. The West Indies team was among the dark horses for the course though there were many who considered them to be favourites. The over haul of the side began with the welcoming back of Gayle into the main fold and the resurgence of newer T20 specialists in the past four years.
It was the Champions League 2009 when Trinidad and Tobago took the stage by storm to enter the finals. Since then the West Indian T20 stars have been among the most sought after ones in the Domestic Leagues worldwide. Few like Gayle, Pollard and Bravo have played almost everywhere from India to Australia, South Africa to England, Srilanka to Bangladesh. The Calypos have been traversing the world with raised stocks in the recent times. This victory adds crown to their value.
While this cannot be called as the resurgence of West Indies cricket, it is surely a step in the right direction. Still an ugly face off continues between the Board WICB and the player association WIPA. The egos at the top are bloated and it has been hurting the side in past few years. A win at this stage provides them a breather.
It has been 33 long years since West Indies won World Cup in any format. However the difference between the previous champions and the current one is starling in every possible manner. The current lot is a complete rehaul of how the Calypsos were presumed earlier.
The previous era was an era of classicism. They had classic orthodox legends that have left their mark in the game so strongly. Clive Lloyd’s side was a complete package of classic batting and fiery bowling. The recently released and much sought after documentary “Fire in Babylon” is ascertains their supremacy in the Seventies and Eighties.
The squad opened by one of the greatest opening pair in Greenidhge and Haynes had in itself some classy batsmen like Kallicharan and Clive llyod. They had a man of destruction in Richards but then is n’t he an All Time great respected for his batting powers? Colin King, Murray, Dujon added weight to their batting.
Bowling was led by a battery of pacers in Marshall, Roberts, Garner, Holding and Croft. Each of them was a master in his own right and they terrorized the opponents everywhere they bowled. No wonder this bowling attack is christened to be all time best in Cricket. They were well supported by Richards himself and never needed a spinner’s job given the completeness of their pace attack.
However one grey area in their armour was the lack of a quality spinner in their ranks. Though they did not need the spinner’s service much, still this is a blot in their armour that will stay. Compared to the Australian attack around the turn of the millennium (another one for the all time best in McGrath, Lee, Gillespie and Warne) or the Pakistan attack of late eighties and early nineties (Akram, Younis, Imran, Qadir/Mushtaqs) the Windies lacked a spinner of quality like Warne or Qadir or Mushtaqs.
Until 1995 when they lost the crown to the Australians they had a bowling attack to gloat over. Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, Patterson were not far behind their predecessors and made life difficult for most sides. However the dreath of quality batsman apart from one Legend in Lara and another warrior in Chanderpaul, they lacked a batsman of respect in their line up. Sarwan wasonly other name than the two and rest just made numbers. Their bowling lacked its potency since the pair of Ambrose and Walsh left the scene and no wonder they became the whipping boys in the circuit.
The resurgence this time has been a complete mutation of their previous self. The bowling today is led by a phalanx of medium pace all rounders and battery of mystery spinners. A pacer of repute is lacking and it is the spinners who are winning matches for the side.
In Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree they have two spinners who weave a web around the batsmen. Their armoury is filled with mystery balls and they are difficult to put away with. Even the test side has two good spinners in Bishoo and Shillingford. Bishoo was a star in his debut World Cup last year and Shillingford is slowly making names.
The batting too is a total change from the past. Gayle is a man unseen before. He is a complete destruction in one bat put together. Samuels, Bravo, Pollard are all flamboyant and hitters of terrific strength. The classic textbook style is completely replaced by the new version which is brave, attacking and destructive. The current squad of champions are more suited for the coloured clothing and most of them will be founded out in quality test bowling.
Another major change has been the face of pace bowling. While the previous generations symbolized West Indies with ferocious pace bowlers the current one are all medium pacers of gentle nature. Bravo, Pollard, Sammy and Russell are no way half as quick as their ancestors. They are all medium pace all rounders. The side is blessed with a group of such players which worked in their favour in Lanka.
Rampaul and Edwards are two remaining quicks but neither do they or the others like Roach and Taylor have the class of Marshall or Ambrose era. They are more reliant on their spinners to win matches than the pacers. The bowling facet is now lit with a quick bowler with few medium pacers to take the shine of the ball before spin sets in.
Even the pitches in the Caribbean have undergone a sea change from being quick and hard to spin friendly dust bowls. The last few years in West Indies tours have shown pitches favouring the slow bowlers and pitches that were sluggish and batting friendly. Gone are those days of having the opposition batsmen’s head in peril.
The previous era was lit with classicism, pace, aggression and orthodoxy. The current one is destructive, guile and spin and gentleness and unorthodox methods. The calypso remains but the fierce fights have been replaced with Gangnams. This is complete Mutation of the sides. While most teams have adhered to their tradition like aggression of Asutralia, Pace of South Africa, spin and batmen of India, bowling strength of Pakistan the West Indies have gone a complete makeover.
They may still be clogging to make good in tests. They may still lose matches at the outset. They may still receive whitewashes. They may still be the whipping boys. But they have taken a right step forward for resurgence with their mutated variant from the past era.
Probably Genetics may add a new Mutation to the list. This time it is “Calypso Mutation”. However the joy of watching the Calypso remains unaltered. Long Live the Calypso Kings!!!