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Home ArticlesSportsWICB The Origins of West Indies Cricket – Part 1

The Origins of West Indies Cricket – Part 1

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Carey Christian CaribDirect

Staff Writer - Carey Christian

The West Indies Cricket Team has gone through many changes throughout the decades since its creation in 1928. The Caribbean eleven has gone from a young team, unable to win a game to becoming world champions and one of the greatest teams in the history of cricket. In recent years, however, the West Indies has seen a mighty fall from grace.  The team that gave us the class of the three W’s (Worrell, Walcott and Weekes), the mastery of Sir Garfield Sobers, the genius of Sir Vivian Richards, destructive pace and accuracy of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, the batting prowess of Brian Lara and even today,  the magnificent belligerence of  Christopher Gayle. These names and many more have made a lasting impact and show how the West Indies has contributed to the game cricket. Today, West Indies is under threat from many quarters: mainly higher paying sports such as Football (Soccer) and Basketball, as well as what many see as players not being able to cope with the pace of the game.  20/20 has attempted to revive the popularity of the game with some success, particularly after the introduction of several Caribbean tournaments.  However, cricket at least in its test match phase is on the decline in the Caribbean and among the international Caribbean diaspora. Will the Game survive?  Does it have a future and why is it falling short of expectations?  Does our new generation of cricketers know the origins of West Indies Cricket and what it means to play for the team which hosted many of the greats listed earlier?  Caribbean commentators and academics have argued that the new breed of West Indies cricketers lack the pride and passion for the game that those before have shown especially during the 1970s and 80s.  Others have attacked the

West Indies Cricket Board as a ‘board of men with a colonial mentality’ or to paraphrase the words of Trinidadian comedian Paul Keens –Douglas “a bunch of accountants who have no idea about cricket.”  Harsh words but to many, these criticism seem fair. As much as it may be seen as a cliché the phrase ‘the only way you know where you are going is if you understand the past’ is important. Cricket in the Caribbean goes as far back as the plantations when whites played matches amongst themselves and even plantations had a team. Slaves were made to bowl to plantocrats to help improve the skills of the masters. After the abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of legal enslavement, both the white landowning class and the former enslaved alike enjoyed the game. In 1927 the West Indies Cricket Board of Control was created with the task of managing the world’s first multi-racial team although the team was majority white players. It was from hereon the West Indies slowly began to develop as a mature side. It slowly moved from being a white dominated team, becoming more African and Indian orientated with one of its greatest triumphs of beating England for the first time at Lord’s on the 29th June 1950. However, despite the change in the racial demographics it was not until the 1960-1961 Test against Australia when the series experienced the first ever tied test match, that the West Indies saw its first captain of African descent. Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell, born in

Sir Garfield Sobers

Barbados in 1924, led a West Indies team which had now seen a complete change in its racial structure. In the words of former opening batsman Allan Rae,  “graceful, poised and dignified,  Worrell embodied all that was noble and deeply attractive in the West Indian character: articulate, sensitive and West Indian to the core, he gave substance to the view that unity should be the hallmark of the region and its cricket team. He transformed a bunch of talented and individual players into a unified team.”  Worrell also came out of Barbadian society that believed in excellence through education. This led him to taking up a degree in Administration at the University of Manchester. The Windies continued to make great strides in cricket, but their dominance of the game came in the 70s and 80s taking cricket to new heights never before seen in the history of the sport.

 

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