“Unbelievable, Unbelievable 37 years to beat Australia in Australia. The young, inexperienced team can stand tall today. WestIndies cricket can stand tall today.” Brian Lara was jubilant in the comm box with Tears in his eyes. Is this the revival of West Indian Cricket? Australia Vs West Indies, 2nd Test has proved the worth of Test Cricket. The longest format of cricket has gotten a new life with the quality contest between the Aussies and Windies.
Decline of West Indian Cricket
From the 1970s through the early 1990s, the West Indies cricket team was a powerhouse, with an array of world-class players who struck fear into opponents. In the early 2000s, West Indian cricket lost its legendary bowlers and some batters from where its decline began. Internal administrative problems, including issues related to governance, selection policies, and disputes between players and cricket boards, have hindered the smooth functioning of West Indies cricket.
The lack of structural development and the increasing popularity of the NBA also affected West Indian Cricket. The rise of T20 cricket has shifted the focus of players and fans towards shorter formats, potentially affecting the development of skills needed for longer formats. Many top West Indian players opted for lucrative contracts in overseas T20 leagues, leading to their absence from the national team. This drain of talent weakened the overall strength of the squad, which could only be saved by the Revival of West Indian Cricket.
A Victory in Australia After 28 Years
Defeating Australia in Australia is always a dream come true. Australia beat Pakistan in the test series a few before this series. The young, energetic, and agile team of West Indies managed to mark history after almost four decades on the evening of Jan 28, 2024. Carribeans managed to win the 2nd Test by eight runs due to the excellent performance of Shamar Joseph, who picked seven wickets in the fourth innings of the match to write his name in history on The Gabba Record Board. It is the first positive step in the revival of West Indian Cricket.
West Indies elected to bat first and went on to score 311 runs. It was due to the brilliant batting displays from Kavem Hodge, Joshua De Silva, and Kevin Sinclair, who scored 71,79, and 50 runs, respectively. A cameo of 32 runs from Alzarri Joseph helped West Indies to cross the milestone of 300 runs in the first innings. Mitchell Starc was the pick of bowlers in the first innings; he grabbed 4 wickets. He was accompanied by Josh Hazelwood and Nathan Lyon, who took 2 wickets each.
Australia’s start to their first innings was not very good. Kangaroo Eleven lost 5 wickets for 54 runs only due to the sheer brilliance of Kemar Roach. Australia returned with a great fight from Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, and The Skipper Pat Cummins. They scored 75,65 and 64 runs respectively. With this fightback from the lower order, Australia gave a surprise by declaring their innings at 289/9. Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph led the bowling attack with their absolute display of good line, length, and pace.
Kemar Roach bagged 3 wickets, and Alzarri Joseph topped the Tally with 4 wickets to his name. The plan of early declaration by Pat Cummins worked in favor of Australia as they managed to get the wicket of Tagenarine Chanderpaul before the end of play on Day 2. The Test was evenly poised for both teams. Second Innings for West Indies didn’t turn out well as they managed to score only 193 runs with some contributions from Kirk McKenzie (41), Alick Athanze (35), Kavem Hodge (29), and Justin Greaves (33).
Shamar Joseph was retired hurt by the Toe Crusher from Mitchell Starc. Josh Hazelwood and Nathan Lyon got 3 wickets each for Australia, restricting their target to 216 runs only. Considering Australia’s target and team, it was evident that Aussies were the favorites for this match. But nobody knew that a youngster with a crushed toe would do a miracle no one is going to imagine.
Australia were cruising to Victory as they were 113/2, but then Came Shamar Joseph, who took two back-to-back wickets from Cameron Green and Travis Head to make the game enjoyable for everyone. After that, Shamar Joseph became unplayable, and due to his brilliance with the ball, he made history that no one could ever imagine. Joseph took 7 wickets for 68 to restrict Australia to 207 and win it for West Indies by 8 runs.
How can it become the Revival of West Indian Cricket?
The first step has been taken for the revival of West Indian Cricket. The young and exciting team has done what many legendary players could not do in their careers. It shows that the thrust of winning will surely increase in this team. West Indies will now focus more on the longer format. The young players in the country, as well as the young fans, will find motivation from this victory. The current and upcoming cricketers will try and work hard so that West Indian Cricket can survive.
West Indian Cricket has recently suffered from internal and regional politics. No talent shortage exists, but a lack of consistent opportunities is the main reason behind their decline. The lack of opportunities is directed towards the regional politics. When people from one region come into power, they do not allow players from another region to play. This victory will motivate them to play a balanced squad of players from all regions. So, the Revival of West Indian Cricket will take place in the near future.
This win was not only celebrated by the West Indies, but the Australian camp congratulated them with wide-open arms in the dressing room. The way Adam Gilchrist’s side hugged Lara at the winning moment and the gesture from Pat Cummins and the Whole Australian Team to join the WestIndies team in their dressing room, exchanging shirts, was simply a fantastic display of sportsman spirit. It will be a great lesson for the upcoming players that Test Cricket is the most respected version. We hope the full Revival of West Indian Cricket will be completed in the next few years.