Take them home, Jason!
A spoof conversation between the Wisden and Frank Worrell trophies suggests it's high time these traditional symbols of supremacy stay in the Caribbean far more often than they have in the last three decades.
The Wisden Trophy (silverware which England and West Indies have been playing for in Test cricket since 1963) and the Frank Worrell Trophy (instituted for Australia v West Indies Tests at the end of the epic 1960-61 series) met the other day in Manchester. Let's call them Wisden and Frank.
"Hello Frank, nice to meet you. Welcome to England and I wish you a happy first trip. Pity you decided to come during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Wisden, realising on time that it cannot extend a hand, hence a fist bump.
"I'm delighted to be here and witness the bio-secure Test series. I was getting a bit bored in Melbourne. Not many visitors come to see me on Jolimont Street. Also, Cricket Australia has cut a lot of their staff, so less people ask me how I'm doing," Frank remarked.
"True, that," Wisden exclaimed, adding, "I'm hoping to travel back to the West Indies where I was before this series after Jason Holder's boys won the previous one."
"You must," Frank insisted. "After all, no West Indies captain has held you aloft as a series-winning leader on English soil since Sir Vivian Richards did in 1988 and that's a long time ago."
Wisden shrugged its shoulders and wondered what could be the reason for such a long wait. Frank pulled out his little record book and pointed to page 54, which showed that West Indies started surrendering honours on English soil in 2000 despite having Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose in that side. "That's right," said Wisden. "You know, Frank, I don't have to refer to any record book for a confirmation of me remaining the property of the West Indies from 1973 to 2000. Though I should sound neutral, I loved being lifted by the likes of Sir Garry Sobers (in 1966), Rohan Kanhai in 1973 — all before Clive Lloyd didn't let go of me from 1976 to 1984. Then, Viv came along and held me with pride after his farewell Test at The Oval in 1991. While wishing him all the best I sought his permission to tell him he ought to have gone out with a series win and not 2-2 considering the ammunition he had. He took it well, kissed me and left. Viv, as you know, ended up not losing a Test series as captain and he never figured in a losing Test series against England...what a man!"
Taking a sip of wine, Frank decided to reveal how much he knew about his counterpart: "I presume you've not enjoyed living in England for several years and you would have longed for an extended time in the Caribbean. I too enjoy the weather in the West Indies. Australia is a beautiful country but nothing like the sight of those swaying palm trees and those exotic beaches.
"The Australians have made me their property for too long. This is my 25th year there and I really want a change."
Wisden cheered up Frank: "You have to be patient. I see a refreshing change in West Indies cricket and that could benefit both of us." Nodding in agreement, Wisden remarked: "I know patience pays. Thanks to the leadership of Clive and Alvin Kallicharran (both led in 1978-79 due to World Series Cricket-related issues ), I returned to the West Indies after 10 years in 1978 and I lived there for a while especially during the Allan Border era until Mark Taylor took me back Down Under in 1995."
Meanwhile, Frank and Wisden realised they had missed out on some excitement on the field and decided to watch the England bowlers stretch every sinew to bowl out the West Indies in their quest to square things up in the series scoreline. Test over, England win. "Don't know where I will be next week — England or West Indies, but you know I would like to be back in paradise," said Wisden, reaching out for the sanitiser before heading to the West Indies dressing room to hand a note to their skipper Jason Holder. Frank was curious about its contents. "No problem in sharing it with you, Frank. It's just a list of items to stress how long it's been since the West Indies won a Test series in England. I am hoping this note will provide some motivation to Jason and his team. Let me read it out to you: "Dear Jason, It's 32 years since West Indies won a series in England. Please consider how the world was like in 1988 and let this spur you to victory in the third and final Test starting on Friday. Also, don't let England know I sent this to you.
So here goes...
# Sachin Tendulkar, world cricket's most enduring cricketer ever, hadn't even played a first-class game when the Windies beat England 4-0 in 1988.
# Your coach Phil Simmons was in his first year of Test cricket.
# David Gower, that ultra-elegant English batsman was still playing Test cricket. Now, he seems to have finished his long commentary career.
# Malcolm Marshall, who passed away 21 years ago, was still menacing with a ball in his hand.
# Michael Holding, now a veteran television commentator, was still playing county cricket for Derbyshire.
Jason, you may not have been born in 1988 but I feel you were born to lead the West Indies and I am looking forward to residing in the West Indies for a while. For that to happen, your side will have to win the series. All the best."
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello
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