This is serious domination!
That India haven't lost a Test series to Windies since 2002 reflects the one-sidedness to a rivalry that was hitherto ruled by the men from the Caribbean
Nothing lasts forever.' It's a mid-day headline I won't forget since that emerged from my first interaction with Sir Vivian Richards in April 1997. The West Indies had then surrendered their second Sir Frank Worrell Trophy on the trot to the Australians and a disappointed Richards put West Indies's decline down to a time cycle.
The West Indians under Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara had managed to beat Sachin Tendulkar's India 1-0 in the Caribbean, but they were not whipping the rest of the world like they used to. The back-to-back series losses to Australia didn't give rise to a revival and the West Indies have yet to regain the 1961-instituted trophy which they last took home in 1992-93.
India v West Indies Test contests have become one-sided as well, a far cry from what was witnessed in the 1980s. The West Indies won nine games across series held in the 1982-83, 1983-84, 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons and lost only one of the 19 Tests played. Current head coach Ravi Shastri will remember that solitary Test at Chennai in 1988 when debutant leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani claimed 16 wickets and Kapil Dev slammed a whirlwind 124-ball 109, his second hundred at Chennai in 16 months.
In the 1990s, the West Indies could beat India in only a couple of Tests (as against India's one among eight Tests) and in the 2000s, India beat them four times and lost twice in 12 Tests. No Test against West Indies has ended in defeat for India since Jamaica 2002.
India have truly dominated the current decade – 11 wins and not even a single defeat. Statistically, this is a bigger achievement than the domination Clive Lloyd and the Viv Richards-led teams enjoyed against India in 1980s.
The West Indies benefited in no small measure from their feared fast bowling attacks then. Pace was the cornerstone of their success, but they couldn't have ruled the world without their more than just powerful batting exploits. It is this department that has caused West Indies latest series disappointment and while I say this, one must not forget to splash kudos on the Indian bowling. The unstoppable Jasprit Bumrah will inspire a generation of fast bowlers and Mohammed Shami along with Ishant Sharma wanted to be in the forefront as well with no free lunches offered to the West Indies batsmen.
The West Indian batting statistics made for horrific reading. Among those players who played both Tests, Jason Holder topped the batting averages with 26.00 and after Shamarh Brooks (161 balls), the skipper faced the most number of deliveries – 157. Clearly, application and crease occupation is an issue with this West Indies team and while they must be sick and tired of being compared to players from the golden era, there is no hiding from the fact that there is work to be done, heads to be put down and runs to be scored even if they come in a trickle. Probably, they need a determined, tough-as-nails player like Larry Gomes was in that great team led by Lloyd.
Michael Holding once related an incident that took place in the West Indies's first game of the 1976 tour of England where Tony Greig made that infamous comment of wanting to make them grovel. West Indies were playing Surrey at the Oval in a three-day warm-up game less than a month before the Test series kicked off at Nottingham. Surrey captain John Edrich set the visitors a 240-run target and captain Clive Lloyd instructed his team not to go for it which left the proud West Indians in the crowd livid. "Clive Lloyd said to the team, 'Gentlemen, we are not chasing this target. We are preparing for a Test series… go out there, get yourselves acclimatised and bat,' " Holding told SBS News. The game ended in a draw with the West Indies 97 for three in 38.3 overs. Three months later, Lloyd's batsmen scored a total of 869 runs on the same ground to beat England in the fifth and final Test by 231 runs and the series was clinched 3-0.
Two hundred and ninety one runs in one innings came from the broad Stuart Surridge bat of Richards. And before that near-triple century came a sequence of scores that read 232, 63, 4, 135, 66 and 38. The West Indies crowd that arrived from Brixton were not enraged this time, as they were in May earlier that year.
Richards, who still looks fit enough to walk out to bat for the West Indies – chewing gum, swagger and all – said on television after Sunday's Jamaica Test that he is trying hard to be positive over West Indies's situation. He indicated that it won't be easy for the next team that tours the Caribbean. One, he believes that this team can do better and two, he knows what a strong opposition India were. Contrary to belief, the current players do want to do well and that starts from the captain Holder, who believes the leadership role has transformed him from a boy to a man.
Meanwhile, many West Indies supporters would like to share Richards' optimism in the midst of gloom. After all, nothing lasts forever. Not even a bad spell.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper
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