For years, West Indies pace great Michael Holding has been trying to convince people that West Indian kids have not gravitated towards basketball. West Indies’ win — albeit achieved in the last over — against three-time champions India in the under-19 World Cup final yesterday gave more impetus to the fact that cricket is still the heavyweight of sporting pursuits in the Caribbean and the worry is not natural talent, but administration.
To bowl out well-oiled India for 145 took some doing and Indian fans hoped for a repeat of the 1983 World Cup final at Lord’s where India defended 183 to end up winning convincingly. As if to prove fairytale wins are few and far between, the WI batsmen Keacy Carthy and Keemo Paul dug in after the fifth wicket and did not allow left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar’s three- wicket burst to affect them. That they eschewed a familiar, cavalier approach spoke volumes of their grit.
Sure, the Indian batting and fielding did not match up to expectations, but the fact that they stretched the game till the last over meant there was no disgrace in losing. Coach Rahul Dravid will not be dejected. After all, winning the trophy was not a priority for him. “Our goal should be to produce good cricketers who will go on and represent India for a long period or have successful first-class careers,” he said before the tournament. Dravid’s words are not surprising because as a player, he never neglected the processes in order to achieve success. This team should count themselves fortunate to have Dravid as mentor. He was a beneficiary of mentoring too and never lost an opportunity to soak in willow talk, be it from the Karnataka team’s manager Gundappa Viswanath during train journeys to Ranji Trophy games or whatever his seniors said in the dressing room.
The senior Indian team is set to have a full-time coach after the ICC World T20, but he won’t throw his hat in the ring for the post. Dravid knows he can contribute the maximum at the junior level and that’s where he belongs, at least for the moment.