April 26, 2013

The Windwards cricket team – Savouring the victory

Fri Apr 26, 2013

Our heartiest congratulations go out to the Windward Islands cricket team for their wonderful achievement in winning the 2013 West Indies 50-over championship. Not even the inclement weather could stop them from defeating the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) in Barbados, last Sunday night.{{more}}

In more ways than one, it was a victory to savour. In the first place, it helped to lift the cloud of sorrow that had enveloped the islands, following the rains earlier that weekend which resulted in the crash of a vehicle taking Dominica’s national footballers to the airport on their way to the 2013 Windward Islands football championships in St Vincent. Two members of the team died as a result and the team itself never made it to the championships.

Then, one must remember that the Windwards, despite their obvious talents, are never touted highly by the regional media for success in such championships. The spotlight had always been on the fancied teams from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and even Barbados. But, having qualified for the semi-finals, the Windwards proceeded to trounce Jamaica on the way to victory over the CCC, itself considered an “underdog”, who dumped the top-rated T&T in the other semi-final.

It was the first victory for the Windwards at the regional level for a dozen years, since its last triumph in 2001. The Windwards, and their northern neighbours from the Leeward Islands are at a distinct disadvantage where competing at the regional level is concerned. The Caribbean Sea, which divides them physically, creates a host of related problems as well. These include the challenges of having to overcome insularity and the extra financial burden incurred in preparing teams for such regional ventures. There are also less favourable conditions for meaningful sponsorship, compared with teams coming from countries with much larger economies.

In spite of all these factors, the Windwards have produced a whole range of talented cricketers, beginning with our own Charles Ollivierrre, more than a century ago, the first Caribbean cricketer to play in professional first-class cricket in England. However, cricketers from the small islands were never given equal opportunity for representation at the West Indies level. Among those who suffered were the late Alfie Roberts, the first “small islander” to play Test cricket for the West Indies, Mike Findlay and Irvine Shillingford. A host of others were selected only sporadically.

But the Windwards have shouldered on, weathering the storms. Many times their performances have not always matched their obvious ability and a host of administrative and organisational challenges are yet to be successfully surmounted. These, however, in no way detract from the sweet taste of victory, a victory richly deserved, even without their inspirational captain, Darren Sammy, who is plying his trade in the Indian Professional League.

As we salute stand-in captain Liam Sebastien and his victorious squad, let us wish them further success in their endeavour to take the regional first-class championship, the semi-finals and finals of which will be played in early May.