How did the West Indies develop such a dominant team?

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philohk

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I grew up with them being the undisputed world champs - they dominated for 20 years - and I've often wondered how a non-unitary collection of islands with such a small population (of Test-playing nations, larger only than New Zealand at a current level of about 6 million) produced such an outstanding team. On their decline, Wiki mentions not moving into the era of professionalism coupled with economic decline, but that doesn't really explain how such a great pool of players came from such a limited population over a sustained period. Does anyone have any better knowledge, or know of any specific books/writers on it?
 

Gough

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Michael Manley's History of West Indian Cricket.
 

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Cricket was their #1 sport. Everyone played from young ages informally - beach, street. Talented athletes funneling towards one main sport.

US culture and cable tv started creeping in late 80s/early 90s. Basketball and soccer followed and eroded cricket's hold. Add in the same issues all countries are dealing with (video games, sedentary lifestyle) and the numbers of quality athletes moving through their system dwindled.

No money to throw at the problem either.
 

Damon_3388

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It was simply an anomaly.

Given the population of the respective nations making up the West Indies, IMO the current situation is "the norm", and what we saw from the mid-70s to the mid-90s was an outlier, a coming together of a golden generation in the perfect set of circumstances.

Also, I've never understood the idea that watching the success of a previous generation is miraculously going to breed talent, skill and work rate in the next generation. I think people expect it to just happen for the Windies again, because it did before, but I doubt it will.
 

Holden Hillbilly

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The money in 20/20 cricket is 10 times that of tests.

Plus big money in college basketball, soccer etc.

Many of the best athletes will not play first class cricket.

In the UK many african/west indian athletes are playing rugby union and soccer instead of long form cricket.
 

Bomberboyokay

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Cricket got professional in the other countries. That was always going to hurt the fake and broadly impoverished country of West Indies.
 

thejockey

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The doco and book mentioned are well worth a look and read

Clive Lloyd played a huge role in it . He managed to galvanise players from the different islands normally at odds with each other into a unit focussed and driven to team success.
Viv carried it on and then end of 20 years of high level talent coming through naturally stopped

People talk about there pace quartet but what's amazing is they had 4-5 waiting in the wings who couldn't get a game and that was through that same period of dominance
More then likely wont be seen again
 

gtrxuone

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The great Clive LLoyd and World Series Cricket.Prior to WSC as Derek Murray said in an interview. The Windies provided the entertainment and the other sides won.
 

philohk

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Thanks all, some interesting responses! I've grabbed Fire in Babylon and will see about the book, though I have a massive reading backlog at the moment...
 

DaRick

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The emergence of soccer/basketball have been mentioned as factors in the West Indian fall from grace, but I would also point out that, according to Gideon Haigh, by the mid-1990's cricketing facilities at nurseries like Wolmer's, which produced Jeff Dujon, were falling into disrepair and games there were supervised by PE teachers rather than actual cricketing coaches. Plus there was too much emphasis on participation rather than nurturing elite talent (not unlike MILO Cricket).

That and people were hardly attending many Test matches, the facilities at many grounds were somewhat ramshackle and the West Indies lacked the financial resources to redress the situation. There were also issues like inter-island rivalry, FC cricket being expensive due to air travel and actually paying players a living wage as fewer of them played county cricket in England. All in all a very different situation from their golden era.

Back in their prime, the West Indies were also ahead of everyone else when it came to fielding practices, training, bowling in partnerships etc. However, their quicks (Marshall aside) never really mastered reverse swing and countries like Australia/South Africa overtook them in fielding practices.

Even if players with the talent of Holding/Garner/Marshall/Roberts/Ambrose/Walsh/Richards/Richardson/Greenidge/Haynes/Dujon emerged today, I doubt they would be quite as dominant as a unit due to the issues described above.
 
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Andrew Mc

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People keep claiming basketball is a factor, but can anyone name a West Indian basketball player who is actually worth a sh*t? Buddy Held? Roy Hibbert? Who else?

Could be though that they play it socially/as kids instead of cricket? Thus they lose the grass roots development?
 

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ioppolo

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People keep claiming basketball is a factor, but can anyone name a West Indian basketball player who is actually worth a sh*t? Buddy Hield? Roy Hibbert? Who else?
Tim Duncan technically
 

The_Reaper

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The great generations of West Indian cricketers all played professionally for Packer/County Cricket. This developed their games. Now this doesn't happen and the gap between West Indian domestic cricket and international cricket is too vast too overcome.
 

Gough

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The emergence of soccer/basketball have been mentioned as factors in the West Indian fall from grace, but I would also point out that, according to Gideon Haigh, by the mid-1990's cricketing facilities at nurseries like Wolmer's, which produced Jeff Dujon, were falling into disrepair and games there were supervised by PE teachers rather than actual cricketing coaches. Plus there was too much emphasis on participation rather than nurturing elite talent (not unlike MILO Cricket).

That and people were hardly attending many Test matches, the facilities at many grounds were somewhat ramshackle and the West Indies lacked the financial resources to redress the situation. There were also issues like inter-island rivalry, FC cricket being expensive due to air travel and actually paying players a living wage as fewer of them played county cricket in England. All in all a very different situation from their golden era.

Back in their prime, the West Indies were also ahead of everyone else when it came to fielding practices, training, bowling in partnerships etc. However, their quicks (Marshall aside) never really mastered reverse swing and countries like Australia/South Africa overtook them in fielding practices.

Even if players with the talent of Holding/Garner/Marshall/Roberts/Ambrose/Walsh/Richards/Richardson/Greenidge/Haynes/Dujon emerged today, I doubt they would be quite as dominant as a unit due to the issues described above.
Interesting you talk about their training, I remember watching them before the Tests here in the late 80s early 90s, towards the end of their reign, and it was noticeable how much less together they were compared to the Simmo/AB/Alcott/ drilled Australian team. They'd enter the field in dribs and drabs, in different gear, do a few laps and some stretches then head out the back to net. Our lads would come on together, run a couple of laps, do stretches and fielding drills, they just looked more professional. The Windies looked slack.
 

DaRick

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Interesting you talk about their training, I remember watching them before the Tests here in the late 80s early 90s, towards the end of their reign, and it was noticeable how much less together they were compared to the Simmo/AB/Alcott/ drilled Australian team. They'd enter the field in dribs and drabs, in different gear, do a few laps and some stretches then head out the back to net. Our lads would come on together, run a couple of laps, do stretches and fielding drills, they just looked more professional. The Windies looked slack.

Good insight from someone who actually remembers their dominant era (I was about 5 when we finally beat them). :thumbsu:

One thing that interests me is that it took about a decade of West Indian decline before another side actually defeated them in a series, whereas in our case it took less than 2 years and progressed to the point where after 4 years we were losing by an innings at home repeatedly.

I wonder why they managed to maintain their dominance for so much longer? No South Africa? Australia coming out of its nadir? Fewer Test series being played? No being worn down by the constant grind of modern-day cricket?
 

Damon_3388

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The great generations of West Indian cricketers all played professionally for Packer/County Cricket. This developed their games. Now this doesn't happen and the gap between West Indian domestic cricket and international cricket is too vast too overcome.

A lot of them also played county cricket in England too.
 

Carl Hooper

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People keep claiming basketball is a factor, but can anyone name a West Indian basketball player who is actually worth a sh*t? Buddy Hield? Roy Hibbert? Who else?
images


and just becsuse they aren't making it to the NBA it doesn't mean the kids aren't playing it in the street lmaoo a lot of the kids in the Windies are poor and cant make it to U.S schools ..



it's also just the way it goes... look at Australia from late 90s to early 2000s. they had batsman and bowling stocks that never seemed to run dry.. now they are a pretty average cricket nation compared to then. it's not always the money and training. sometimes you just get lucky.
 

Gough

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and just becsuse they aren't making it to the NBA it doesn't mean the kids aren't playing it in the street lmaoo a lot of the kids in the Windies are poor and cant make it to U.S schools ..



it's also just the way it goes... look at Australia from late 90s to early 2000s. they had batsman and bowling stocks that never seemed to run dry.. now they are a pretty average cricket nation compared to then. it's not always the money and training. sometimes you just get lucky.
It's certainly fair to say both the CWI and CA were mistaken in their assumption that four or five once in a generation players and the odd once in a lifetime player would just continue to be produced all the time.
 

Carl Hooper

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It's certainly fair to say both the CWI and CA were mistaken in their assumption that four or five once in a generation players and the odd once in a lifetime player would just continue to be produced all the time.
*and the fans were mistaken
 

Damon_3388

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Ewing retired 15 years ago, just like Curtly Ambrose...

and just becsuse they aren't making it to the NBA it doesn't mean the kids aren't playing it in the street lmaoo a lot of the kids in the Windies are poor and cant make it to U.S schools ..
Talented athletes get fully paid scholarships to US schools. It's never about whether you can afford to go to school, it's about whether you (and your family) can resist the pro dollars while you learn the game and get an education.
 

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