Still a feather in our cap
By Andi Thornhill | Wed, November 28, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Some may say it’s only Bangladesh but the West Indies still deserve maximum credit for winning the two-Test cricket series in style.
Having recently been crowned World Twenty20 champions, their confidence will be boosted even more by this triumph.
The culture of winning is very important because we recognize there have been long periods in the past 15 years when it was easier to expect the West Indies would lose even against weaker opposition.
This was the case because it is difficult to get out of a mental rut, especially if you find yourself consistently with your back against the wall.
The upside is that sometimes you need just an opportunity to break the shackles and you take it to build self-esteem and the rest, as is said, could be history.
The triumph against Bangladesh may not fall exactly in that context but it could well represent what appears to be a steady West Indies resurgence as a team to respect, if not fear just yet.
What is certain is that we have made incremental gains under the leadership of coach Ottis Gibson and captain Darren Sammy. Neither, as pointed out before, won any plaudits from a critical public in the initial steps of their respective journeys.
They had to fight collectively to earn respect and the confidence of supporters but it seems that their stewardship is paying off to the region’s advantage.
Cricket is still regarded as the No. 1 sport and as a result it creates a lot of pride across the board when the team win or perform to our expectations which are usually very high.
As a matter of fact, this is the first time in 19 years that the West Indies have won two Tests in successive series. It was back in the 1992-93 period that we beat Australia 2-1 and Pakistan 2-0.
So, we have to understand where we have come from to appreciate some of the fruits of success we are reaping now.
We were once in a mould of self-doubt that was compounded by all the other off-the-field problems between the board and the players’ representatives. This would have impacted on performance in the middle.
However, I thought that we started to see some light on our tour of India last year when we were commendable against hosts who are usually difficult to play against in their own backyard.
Then, but for some critical slips at crucial times we should have beaten Australia earlier this year at home. We may have been less convincing against England away from home but even then we were no push-overs.
The T20 title earned us our first major championship since 2004 and yet again those who wanted to depreciate the effort because of the format should understand the feeling you get having won silverware after a long drought.
Therefore, the team left for Bangladesh in a buoyant frame of mind and we saw it in the way they performed in the two Tests individually and collectively.
Who can take away anything from Kieran Powell’s two hundreds in the first Test? The continued inspirational performances of Marlon Samuels in his second coming? The grit of the tigerish Shivnarine Chanderpaul and his appetite for big scores? The extraordinary enthusiasm and wicket-taking ability of Tino Best on slow pitches? Fidel Edwards’ 12th five-wicket haul in Test cricket? And, yes, the good leadership of Sammy?
Lest we forget, too, there were times in the series when Bangladesh had their moments and West Indian fans were about to throw their hands in the air, so it wasn’t necessarily one-way traffic.
Honestly, who expected a West Indies triumph in the first Test with what appeared to be so little time for an outright result until the devastating intervention of Best?
In this respect, the team must be fully credited for showing killer instinct, intensity and maintaining pressure on the opposition.
We can recall many instances when the shoe was on the other foot and we crumbled.
Who can forget when we had three wickets in hand and one run to get but still lost, inexplicably, to South Africa at Kensington Oval?
The point I’m making is that we ought to savour whatever success we are getting at the moment because there were times when the hard road to travel in international cricket was turning into Mount Everest and we seemed destined to fail.
Success against Bangladesh can’t negate that we have started to approach the summit with greater surety than in the past and that we are now better equipped as a unit to compete and possibly conquer greater challenges that lie ahead.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.
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