For long, one is advised to stamp one’s legacy in the field one excels in. To leave an everlasting mark, one that will resonate with each passing generation. The upcoming eras will set their future goals in an attempt to transcend the magical aura that has already been scripted. Success stories act as a motivation and an encouragement; the benchmark against which youngsters will base their hard work.
Yes, it inspires one to even fight against our own shortcomings and explore the hidden strengths within us. It challenges one to outdo the past so that it is our names that reverberate all around. It acts as stimuli to grow with each passing day, improving us in the process. However, a dark tale resides within these glory stories as well. Subtle but omnipresent. What if the history is so overpowering that it becomes impossible to replicate? What if the heroes of yesteryears have been highlighted as superhuman? How do you even go about recreating an Indus civilisation when all you have left are the ruins and the relics?
It has been an age-old phenomenon in West Indian cricket. The arrival of Sir Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge shattered the backbones of bowlers. The sight of Andy Robers and Joel Garner; Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall spelt venom. The nonchalance of their persona was buried in their aggressive streaks and together, they formed a cricket team that oozed out oomph and fire, all together.
Children back in West Indies had hoped to emulate them. Wouldn’t it have been a wonder to have walked in the footsteps of Richie Richardson? As the craze for cricket rapidly sky-rocketed, somewhere a dark cloud lurked as well.
The exit of these heroes brought with it a queer melancholy. They shall be missed but all anticipated the future that lay ahead. Who would be the next Richards? The next Marshall?
It remained an honour. An entry into the team whereby you were enlisted as the next superstar to watch out for. With the looming presence of the legends behind you and a mysterious future ahead, cricket in the islands could not have glittered brighter.
Years went on; the months slipped by. Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul captivated hearts but we all wanted more. The emergence of Chris Gayle was reminiscent of Richards but the battle between the shorter formats and the financial issues plaguing the nation went viral. Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy tried their mightiest to save West Indies the blues but the condition in the nation became murkier and uglier. From being a champion squad, they were being seen as easy walkovers- their non-qualification in the Champions Trophy further enhancing the sorry state of affairs.
Such has become the condition that a defeat has become a normal event in the calendar of a West Indian cricket enthusiast. Even the collapse against New Zealand in the first Test match in Wellington hardly caused flutters. Replete with inconsistencies and weaknesses, the critic watched in abject horror as one batsman soon followed another to the pavilion, to dwell there until further notice.
The top five were dismissed for 80. The other five went down after the addition of 54 more runs. It can be argued that against the perfect short balls of Neil Wagner, the West Indies hardly went in with a chance but the reality lies that they hardly even threatened to offer a fight.
Kraigg Braithwaite looked clueless against Wagner’s short ball. Even in his 70 ball stay, he kept top-edging and uncomfortably nudging the ball, eventually falling in a similar manner.
His opening partner Keiran Powell, the highest scorer in the innings with a brisk 42 in 79 deliveries, looked the only player who had the potential to take on the might of the Kiwi bowlers but a short length delivery that brushed against his bat handle to third slip by Trent Boult led to his demise.
It was not a bad start in any way. 75 runs by the opening batsmen in 26 overs had meant that the pitch had eased out and the threat had relatively subsided. Or so, it had seemed. With the middle order hardly offering any resistance, the next three wickets fell for just five runs and it was mayhem.
Three Test match old Shimron Hetmyer’s lack of footwork to a Wagner delivery left one and all confounded. As the ball nipped back in, the Guyana player refused to move his wrists away from the line of the delivery, the ball tamely nudged his gloves towards second slip. 79/3.
Much was expected from Shai Hope, who was coming into the tour with a series of impressive performances against his name but he too failed to latch onto his opportunity, giving Wagner a surprise wicket. Directed towards the leg-side, Hope pulled half-heartedly and with his dismissal, hopes of a high score crashed as well.
A debut game for the national jersey brings with it a culmination of the years of dreams dreamt and the toils toiled. It marks the beginning of a phase that can either launch one as a future star or eradicates one as quickly from memories; his efforts all forgotten in haste. It could have either been a moment that changed Sunil Ambris’ career forever but it remained one that ended with him in the record books, albeit for a reason he would not be proud of. In his very first delivery, he was up against Wagner’s short delivery that angled in across the right-hander. Looking to nudge the ball towards the on-side, he went deeper into his crease. The result? The bails fell to the ground and a moment that could have potentially created history ended with Ambris out hit wicket. The first player ever to get hit-wicket on his debut. That too for a golden duck.
On the bright side, things cannot be bleaker than this for the youngster, but unfortunately the same cannot entirely be said for the West Indies team.
Each innings failed resounds with the cries of Richards thwacking a ball out of the park and it will need more than one saviour to reconstruct the heydays of cricket in the country.