Sunday, May 18, 2008

A classic hopefully revived

In my minds eye, in the old days, there was nothing quite like a West Indies-Australia test series (not even the Ashes came close). The West Indies were, well, the West Indies with all their power, athleticism and cricketing bravado, and the Australians, in their style, came the closest to matching them in all of those departments. Both teams had fast bowlers, aggressive batsmen that loved to hook, great catchers in the slip and gully, and most importantly an attitude to cricket that breathed aggression and style in equal measure. Watching an Australia-West Indies test was to be exposed to a different world of cricket than the one I was used to in India. Those days have long gone of course. The last West Indies-Australia test series that carried some of the flavor of the old-days was the 1999 epic. Since then, Australia have beaten up the West Indies, reveling in handing out the beatings that the West Indies handed out to them in a couple of lop-sided series in the 1980s. (Of course, the real history of West Indies-Australia test cricket has seen quite a few lopsided series and terribly uncompetitive cricket; but no matter, for we are speaking of legends and mythology here, underwritten by some factual content). So, this test series that is fast approaching doesn't quite have the buzz that series of years gone by might have had. But there is hope. The West Indies could perhaps, put together a fast bowling attack in Taylor, Powell and Edwards that has speed, aggression and attitude. And perhaps the tiny chinks that were noticed in the Aussie armour over the last summer by the Indians might be exposed again. If that happens, the series could be competitive, and we might have a great advertisement for test cricket on our hands. One can only hope.

Incidentally, somewhere out there is a great DVD of the 1995 tests between these two, when Australia finally wrested the world's test crown from the Windies. A better display of test cricket would be hard to find; check it out, some of the cricket in there will leave you breathless.


Blogger John said...

Oh that would be super. But if the Windies batsmen put up a bit of a fight, the recent history of Caribbean pitches indicates a borathon. Choice between a some high scoring draws and a whitewash.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Straight Point said...

the character of wi cricket brain will come out in the preparation of pithces...whether they want to see them moving forward or will they blink at first opportunity...

in that way this is going to be interesting without even first ball being bowled in the series...

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Cricket Bets said...

I have that dvd of the 1995 classic :-) and you've just inspired me to pull it out the closet again. I'll tell my wife who to thank when she can't drag me away from the television!!

I don't share you optimism for this year though. I agree that Finally West Indies seem to be getting back a fast paced attack that they can be proud of, but i still think the Australians will be too strong for them. Expect a couple of draws too with the pitches out there!

7:59 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I think worry about the pitches is justified, and I join you in hoping that the WICB will do its best to make sure that they have something for their own attack (Interesting article on the failure to make spinners part of the attacking mix on Cricinfo today, BTW). I think the worry will be that they'll think it'll be more of an advantage for the Aussies than their own bowling attack. But if they have a chance, thats where it lies. IMO. The WI batting does look dodgy, and in the end, that might guide pitch preparation more than anything else. Fingers crossed, hoping for good test cricket.

8:35 AM  
Blogger mukulkesavan said...

Nice. It's hard for a fan over thirty to find his bearings in a Test world where the West Indies don't count. Like a compass that doesn't show north. Is it just me or does your reference to the DVD sound vaguely elegiac?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Mukul: Indeed, one of the most disorienting things about modern test cricket is to see the words "West Indies" in print, and to realize they don't convey the same sense of cricketing power that they used to. I hadn't realized my mentioning of that that great series sounded elegaic, but its possible; I'm worried about test cricket surviving the arrival of the T20 beast.

BTW, I wrote a review of Men in White and sent it off to No response from them!

1:38 PM  
Blogger mukulkesavan said...

If Penguin does a paperback, I'll fix those 'blemishes'! 776. I'm brooding about that one.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous scorpicity said...

Who knows with Hayden not likely to make it for the first one, Windies may just be inspired to pull a fast one.


Am adding you to my roll

3:39 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Mukul: :) But yes, do try and get a paperback version out. I'll be happy to do another close read to pick up any other 'blemishes'!

Scorp: Thanks! And yes, I agree, a tiny weakness introduced. The WI can use all they can get.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Homer said...

I would not put it down as tiny Samir.. Australia does not have a slip cordon going into this game..And I hope they regret it by the time this test is over and done


12:50 PM  

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