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The Wisden Trophy returns

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England_West_Indies_Test_CricketIt was almost 8 decades ago that England faced the West Indies team for the latter’s first Test at the Mecca of cricket. In the match and the series, England demolished the Windies in all the departments and went on to win the series 3-0. In each of the three matches, England had to bat just once and that was more than enough to win the game. 

As the years went by, many series between these two heavyweight sides went down as well. Till 1973/74, these two sides played 16 series between them where England got the better of the Windies 7 times whereas West Indies managed to clinch 5 series and 3 went down as draw. After the 1959/60 England’s tour to West Indies, the series got a name and a trophy to play for; The Wisden Trophy. The great change came in and after the 1976 series, where the West Indies team thrashed the Englishmen and ended their dominance over them by winning the series 5-0 and hence announcing the arrival of new powerhouse in the world.

After the 1976 series the West Indies were unassailable and showed their dominance to the world. They were considered undefeatable and didn’t lose a series against the England till 2000. We all know West Indies have produced some of the greatest cricketers of all time, such as Greenidge, Haynes, Richards, Lloyd, Roberts, Lara, Marshall, Garner, Croft, Ambrose, Walsh and more. The names can just roll off the tongue but now, the greatness can’t. 

 

There was an immense pleasure in watching the Windies over the years. The team which made every other team’s life miserable and became a nightmare for them started to decline after some time. Over the past decade or so, the cricket pundits and the Windies supporters were pained by the painful decline of their team.

 

After the great show that was put up by the West Indies side since 1976, many teams were afraid of facing this side. The rivalry between England and West Indies, one of the oldest and most ferocious rivalries of all time, became even fiercer. Both teams have locked horns in almost 150 Tests, out of which West Indies got the better of England 54 times and England triumphed 49 times. The last time these two teams faced off against each other, when England toured West Indies in 2015, the series was drawn1-1. 

In modern day cricket, if no records are set or broken during a bilateral series, then that series is considered to be more or less just a formality. Nowadays the standards of bilateral series have gone so high that with every series a new milestone is achieved and then it is like a race between the other cricketers to reach there first. 

When we talk about setting records in a bilateral series, we must take a look at some records set by these two heavyweights. The 89 years of cricket has witnessed many ups & downs and saw many records being set and broken till now. Curtly Ambrose has taken the most wickets, with 164 wickets in 34 matches. The record for most runs is again with one of the greatest players that the world has seen- Sir Gary Sobers of Barbados scored 3214 runs in 36 matches. He also holds the record for the most hundreds in the Wisden Trophy: 10 centuries during his time of play. 

 

There is one match between England and West Indies, played in 2004, which is still very much alive in the hearts of every cricket fan. Though the match was drawn, there was something which took the match and the level of cricket to another height. A guy named Brian Charles Lara scored an unbeaten 400* which took the entire cricket fraternity by shock. The marathon innings included 43 fours, which is a record in its own. 13 years down the line, the record which was set by Lara is still intact and far from many other greats of the game. 

 

The last time we saw West Indies winning a Test series was back in 2014 when Bangladesh visited the Caribbean. Since then, the West Indies have played 8 series with 7 different oppositions but never managed to win a series. This team is not far from becoming the team with the most series losses. The decline is having an adverse effect on the spectators as well. The Caribbean, which was once known for its happening crowds in the stadia, is now witnessing empty stands and no support for home team. 

It is commonly believed that Test cricket in the Caribbean is on the verge of dying. The 2017 edition of the Wisden Trophy which kicks off with the day/night Test at Birmingham might prove a turning point for West Indies cricket. The West Indies team has always shown dominance when it comes to competing with the British team and this time Jason Holder’s side would be hoping to repeat the same. But the current form of the Windies takes them away from the thought of upsetting the mighty hosts and will be considered as the underdogs and raises a question: Can they? 

 

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Yatin Singh is a graduate of Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, studied B.A (H) Journalism. Yatin,...

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