From Sriram Veera, another statement of yearning for a West Indian cricket resurgence:
The locals, both in Trinidad and Antigua, have a resigned look when talking about cricket. It’s sad, and to say as much is almost condescending. It feels wrong, especially when one is from a generation that grew up in awe of them, to write about West Indies cricket in words of pity. Reality can be cruel. More proof came through the mail this morning: Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth skipping the Test series to be ready for sterner trials in England. Wise decision, of course, but it reflects the state of West Indies cricket in some ways.
This type of story comes once every few months, and the format has almost hardened into genre. First, begin with a general lament of the current state of affairs. Second, remember how it used to be. Third, face the fork: either look at current players and offer either guarded optimism (in the past, Gayle, Sarwan, Chanderpaul, Jerome Taylor; now, Pollard, Bravo(s), Roach) or resigned defeat.
Not having watched the West Indies greats (other than in polemical documentaries, i.e. Fire in Babylon), I can’t say I completely identify with prevailing sentiment. I suspect this malaise is more felt by a previous generation, and its source isn’t merely the facts on the ground — namely, the string of Test losses and mediocre players — but nostalgia. There’s also a sense of human limits: a feeling that men grow old, they leave the realm of action and the next generation does not always take its place.
That may be the most difficult element of the West Indies storyline: it runs counter to the progressive vision of history of constant improvement and a trend-line always-on-the-up. The vision of decline on display frightens older folk, but it also serves as a cautionary tale for those in the 20s (especially us Americans, currently facing the limits of power). More hardened folk would look at the West Indies’ run from 1975-1995 and say, “Such great feats are to be admired, but never repeated,” and accept history’s judgment that the small archipelago enjoyed an anomalous run.
But the fears remain: what if India cannot sustain its own brilliant run? What if we turn into Australia, now in the midst of severe infighting? What if the talent dries up? Who will fill the ranks of the next generation? Looking at the West Indies now is like studying Ancient Rome and wondering, What if our own grand works will be reduced to dust?