As the dust settles on an absorbing and highly entertaining World T20 and the euphoria of a stunning West Indian triumph takes a back seat in the memory bank, the pundits of the game are wondering if the current team from the Caribbean has it in them to bring back the lost glory and triumphs of a highly distinguished past.
The annihilation of Australia in the semi final of the tournament reminded one of the hey days of the eighties and early nineties when West Indian teams routed opposition mercilessly.
Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard smashed sixes with gay abandon leaving the Aussies bruised and battered.
The bowlers followed suit with the often inconsistent Ravi Rampaul providing the sucker punch with a hostile opening burst that left the men from down under ducking for cover.
In the final clash it a scintillating rearguard action by Samuels that left all awestruck, the brunt of the attack was borne by Lasith Malinga regarded as a lethal bowler at the death overs in shorter formats of the game.
Samuels hit as many as five sixes in a two over blitz that turned the match on its head; the momentum carried on in the Sri Lankan chase as the hosts were choked for runs and caved in spectacularly against the Maroon brigade.
Former Pakistan players Moin Khan and Moshin Khan were clearly impressed by the West Indian resurgence, however, they feel that Darren Sammy’s men have a long road ahead of them and would have to be consistent for a sustained period across all formats of the game if they are to match the deeds of the past teams from the islands.
Moin Khan who toured West Indies twice with Pakistan, once as captain, recalls that the passion for cricket in the islands is second to none.
“The crowd there is always in a festive mood, they love fast bowlers hurling bouncers at the batsmen. The current team doesn’t possess the bowling prowess that we had to face in the nineties yet there is talent in their ranks. The win at the World T20 would go a long way in re-establishing them as a cricket powerhouse.”
On the other hand former test batsman, chief selector and national coach Mohsin Khan feels that there is a big gap between the present team and the one he faced while representing Pakistan in early eighties.
“The West Indian team of that era had an unbelievable supply line of fast bowlers, there were four in the playing eleven and four of the same quality cooled their heals on the team bench. In my opinion the pace quartet of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Sylvester Clarke and Malcolm Marshall was devastating.”
Mohsin remarked that the batting line-up of that era was equally efficient and had the ability of surmounting any challenge thrown at them.
“Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Gus Logie, Clive Lloyd and the one and only Vivian Richards were clearly the leading batsmen of that era. The West Indians were extremely lucky that all of them were part of one team”.
While Moin believes that not many players of the current line-up could have walked in to the teams of the glorious era, Mohsin thinks that Chris Gayle is the only one who would have found his way in the playing eleven of during that great era.
“I reckon Gayle is the only one who would have been part of the squad then. He is a special player with tremendous striking power, and he has been the linchpin in the present team.”
While the pundits think that there is work ahead yet for the West Indians, there is little doubt that the success of the maroon brigade brought joy and hope to millions of cricket fans in the islands and around the world.
Free spirited cricketers dancing to the gangnum style after thumping their opponents is a sight that gives a new dimension to the sport. Perhaps the need of the hour is a liberated West Indian, one that does it with style.