Since at least the mid-1990s, a depressing cycle has emerged in cricket coverage: the West Indies will do badly in yet another tour (or at home), Tony Cozier will unleash yet a polemic against everybody involved, the older among us reflect on how the mighty have fallen.
Then, the West Indians will do something note-worthy. They’ll win the Champions Trophy, or decimate the English batting order the way they used to, or they’ll fight the Australians and still lose all their Test matches. Someone will then write a column about the resurrection is around the corner. Heads will raise.
The routine’s getting tired. So what if they’re awful now? Some teams rise, others fall. In the last ten years, for instance, we’ve seen India slowly rise to the top, and though they don’t dominate as much as the West Indies did, they’re clearly much better than they used to be.
The more interesting question is: where cricket talent comes from? Some have pointed to the Australia, whose team has been consistently good for a very long stretch, despite team turnover. But it’s tough to isolate any variable: is it a good cricket administration? Or a particular “cricketing culture” (which India has in droves)? Is it paying athletes enough money (which can’t be true, since the West Indians have earned plenty from the IPL and Twenty20)?
Maybe there’s just a time and place for these things. India’s Golden Four — Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar — were all born in the early 1970s, maturing when India won the World Cup in 1983. Once they’re all gone, will India stay as good as they are?