News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 13, 2019: Tomorrow, Friday, June 14th, the West Indies cricket team will face England in their fourth World Cup match of the 2019 tourney.
So far, the Windies has won their first match over Pakistan; lost to Australia by 16 runs and tied with South Africa 0-0, after rain washed out that match on June 10th.
But tomorrow’s match will be a big test for the team in the competition to date as it faces one of its own – Barbados-born Jofra Archer – a late inclusion in England’s squad, after qualifying on residency in March.
Some of the West Indies legends are hopeful the team can achieve glory again; but having seen the decline in the team’s majesty from 2009, they remain cautiously optimistic while giving some advice for long term revival.
Curtly Ambrose, who was part of the team’s bowlers who dominated cricket into the 2000’s and who took 630 international wickets between 1988-2000, including 24 in World Cups, says “it’s (been) really sad to see West Indies cricket the way it is.”
“We were so accustomed to being No. 1 in the world and being the team that everyone wants to beat,” he added. “To see the decline as a former cricketer is very hard to take.”
Joel Garner, the legendary 6ft, 8in fast bowler who took eight of his 146 ODI wickets in the 1979 World Cup, arguably the most one-sided ever, says “it’s important that the money goes back into cricket.”
“If we want to have the future of cricket, then you invest the money you make back into the grassroots level,” Garner said. “That is where the next set of cricketers are coming from.”
Shiv Chanderpaul, the former Windies skipper whose ODI run tally for the West Indies is only bettered by Brian Lara and Chris Gayle, is, however, confident that the administration has turned a corner.
“We do not have the money that is being pushed into cricket that another board might have,” he says. “But we’ve done a lot in the last few years. I used to do everything on my own without any money, no contracts, nothing. I had to find my own money if I had to travel. Now the countries in the Caribbean all have contracted players, the local boys all have contracts. That means all the boys are going to play in regional tournaments.”
He also feels that the Board must utilize former players. “We have a lot of guys with experience in the Caribbean. We need a team of them to go out and work with young players to help them understand their cricket, because there is a lot of talent,” the former skipper added.
Still some improvement is beginning to show in the West Indies’ results.
A 2-1 victory in the three-match Test series against England in January and February was followed by a 2-2 draw with World No. 1 team in the subsequent ODI series. And their win over Pakistan in the first World Cup match and the close win in the second match against the Aussies has made new believers out of many and reinvigorated fans.
Tomorrow’s match at The Rose Bowl Cricket Ground in Hampshire, England will determine if the Windies odds improve.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The above article is an adaptation of Betway’s Adam Drury’s interview with three West Indies legends.