On Target
February 13, 2009
Savour the moment, but…

The region smiled last Saturday afternoon, as unfolding before their eyes – the West Indies’ destruction of England in the first test match in Jamaica.

The uncontrollable joy that reverberated across the Caribbean rewound the days of the late 70s to early 90s, when the West Indies topped world Cricket, and were the Masters of the sport, with teams like England reduced to commoners.{{more}}

Yes, the West Indies won convincingly, bowling out England for paltry 51, in their second innings, winning by an innings and 23 runs. It was the West Indies’ first win over the English in nine years, which spanned 17 test matches, so one can understand the ecstasy.

It was also the first time since 2006 that the West Indies has gone without a loss in three test matches on the trot.

More so, the regional team in the last year or so has been able to eke out a win over countries ranked above them. First it was South Africa, then Sri Lanka, and now England.

It was also sweet revenge for the regional team, which five years ago at that same Sabina venue, capitulated to their lowest total in test history, 47, against England.

Their previous victory came nine years ago at Birmingham, when they won by 242 runs.

This was West Indies’ first Test win at Sabina Park, since they beat Bangladesh by an innings and 99 runs five years ago.

Already, some persons are quick to think that this win is the beginning of better days that are coming for the once potent regional team.

“It is definitely the turning point, but we can’t say how big it will be,” Gayle told reporters last Saturday in his hometown.

But I beg to differ with those who are gluttoning on a one-off meal of success.

However, Coach John Dyson was more prudent in his assessment of the victory, stating that he was not quite prepared to refer to the victory as a turning point.

Mr. Gayle must understand that goodly saying: “One sunny day maketh not the Summer”.

Similar sentiments were expressed almost six years ago when the West Indies successfully chased down 417 against Australia in Antigua and Barbuda, and when Brian Lara almost single-handedly whipped the Aussies in Barbados in 1999.

A mirroring situation occurred 15 years ago, when Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh obliterated the same England in Trinidad and Tobago, only for the West Indies to be humiliated in the next test in Barbados.

It is vivid memory for me, as it was my first live viewing of test cricket.

One could well become deflated by the end of the next test, which starts today in Antigua, as the West Indies might again be back to their consistent inconsistency.

The same Taylor, who bowled so well last Saturday, and looked the days of Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall Croft and company, could become just an ordinary bowler in the up-coming tests.

That is just the nature of the West Indies teams for the past decade.

In the West Indies tour of South Africa of 2007- 2008, they won the first test, but faltered badly in the next two, and lost the series.

As it seems, it is probably which side of the bed the players wake on that determines their performances in a match.

But one has to put this current series into perspective, as England is not enjoying the best of times, too, as their off the field battles must have surely affected their journey to these parts.

England, like the West Indies, is a weak unit, with the former more consistent, and with a higher ranking of fifth on the test table, to the West Indies’ seventh.

But take the win for what it is worth and relish the unfamiliar territory as long as it lasts.

Until the West Indies can put together, over time, convincing wins, real fight, and good to great performances, then we will just be warming cold soup every time a victory like last Saturday’s comes our way.

But the thought of reclamation and rejuvenation of West Indies Cricket is not being helped by the current regional competition, which is the first examination for the region’s best cricketers.

Teams are still being bowled out for under 100 consistently and matches are finished in three days, so there lie the tempered celebrations and caution.

There, however, will be no celebrations until the “Mound” is removed from the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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