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Expect bumper year for Windies

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Even though there is still a month left in 2012, this has been a wonderful year for West Indies cricket. This year, West Indies won its fourth, some argue its most exciting world championship ever, to go with World Cup 1975, defending in 1979, before winning another cricket crown in 2004.  
It has been a very long time since September 2004, when West Indies won the Champions Trophy in England, that West Indies could savour starting the succeeding year as world champions. What a show!  
This year started with the entire world anticipating, salivating, as to who would feature and what would be the realities of London Olympics. To all, that event was also a truly magnificent spectacle!
West Indies, led by coach Ottis Gibson and captain Darren Sammy, after starting relatively badly against Australia, has emerged as one of this year’s most exciting teams, winning the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 (T20) Championship in Sri Lanka, along the way. This has indeed been a very good year!
Having already beaten Bangladesh in Tests, still battling those erstwhile hosts now in 50 overs and T20s to close out the year, West Indies could look forward to a short break before 2013 starts, with more cricket and opportunities to elevate the team and the region back to full international leadership.
Fortune continues to follow West Indies too, for even the cricket gods have smiled on its scheduling. With the possible tours and tournaments of 2013, West Indies could feel that they have won the lottery.
They start 2013 with a short 50-overs tour of Australia in February, followed by Zimbabwe touring West Indies later in February and March, then possibly India and Sri Lanka playing a three-team limited overs tournament in West Indies, with Pakistan touring West Indies in June and July.
Sandwiched between those tours and tournaments would be regional tournaments—T20, Four-Day and 50-overs—and, internationally, the final Champions Trophy ever, in England’s summer.  
All that West Indies needs to do would be to win that tournament in England too, to be holders of two championships at one time. What odds would anyone have gotten for that one year ago?
Sammy has already suggested that he and his team have definite intentions to make sure that West Indies climbs the ladders of both 50-overs and Test cricket, to be at or near the apex in the near future. With that schedule, they have every opportunity to make some headway a reality.
In Tests, West Indies languishes at No 7, only ahead of Zimbabwe and New Zealand. In 50-overs rankings, West Indies also stands at No 7. Very interestingly, West Indies is still only No 2 in T20s!
Ratings are one thing, being world champions is another altogether. It is not always that highest-ranking person or team that wins a competition, but no one can ever replace the tag of “world champion.”  
As Bob Beamon suggested at Mexico 1968 Olympics, after winning that long jump competition with an unbelievable world record leap of 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches: “Someone will eventually break this record some day, but no one can take away the gold medal that I received here today.”  
Beamon was not wrong. Little did he know that his world record, along with lifelong legacy, would last for nearly 23 years, until another American, Mike Powell, bettered that jump in IAAF World Athletics Championship, Tokyo 1991, with his own – 29 feet, 4 1/2 inches!
Who knows? Even as we see small, slow but sure germinations of Sammy’s team that that team could not be starting and presenting, its own legacy for years to come. 
Few expected that West Indies would have been such a powerful, world-beating cricketing force for the 20 years that followed that first success in 1975. Winning always breeds greater winners!        
With the present longer game rankings, Sammy’s team has a tremendous assignment ahead of them to that “promised land”, to be rated and known as world champions in all three formats of the game. 
Nothing ventured, nothing gained! As things stand, we all hope that West Indies will only get better.
Without any disrespect, West Indies should beat Zimbabwe in all games of that tour—two Tests, several ODIs and T20s.  
In recent years, ever after re-emerging from its own self-imposed exile, Zimbabwe has been quite stagnant while West Indies have been upwardly mobile. Moreover, that tour could prepare West Indies for even more difficult assignments.
Sri Lanka had said that they may prefer to play in West Indies in ICC scheduled timeframe—Future Tours Programme—but not Tests, preferably in 50-overs games. While that schedule is not yet fully available, the tri-team series could include crowd pullers India, always a boon for West Indies cricket. 
Then comes the unpredictable, mercurial Pakistanis, who on their day, not unlike West Indies, could produce such unbelievable cricket that they are always a good team to either play against or to watch.
This year presented a smorgasbord of sport. For West Indies cricket, 2013 could be much better!


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