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A triumph to savour

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Such is the power of the Internet that people have become used to finding information with the click of a button.

However, older followers of the glorious game of cricket remember a time when the Wisden Cricketers' Almanac, published annually in England by John Wisden & Co, was considered the 'Bible' of cricket.

For people all over the world, The Cricketers' Almanac was the ultimate source of information for all things cricket.

Hence the pride experienced by Caribbean people — even as the political independence movement was sweeping the region — when in 1963 the publishers of the Wisden Cricketers Almanac offered a trophy to be played for in Test cricket between England and West Indies.

The first presentation of the Wisden Trophy to the victorious West Indies team which toured England in 1963 commemorated the 100th edition of the Cricketers' Almanac.

Recognition of the West Indies team in that fashion was in no way accidental. It reflected the great respect with which the Caribbean team and their wonderfully gifted players were regarded at the time.

Indeed, that team led by the legendary Sir Frank Worrell had, in the minds of many, partnered with their hosts Australia to “save” Test cricket in the famous 'Tied Test' series two years earlier.

After victory in 1963, West Indies successfully defended the Wisden Trophy in 1966 before losing out to the English in 1968, and again in '69.

But after the West Indies side led by Mr Rohan Kanhai shocked England in 1973 by retaking the trophy on tour of that country, a period of unprecedented Caribbean cricket dominance ensued.

It would take 27 years for England to reclaim the Wisden Trophy — in 2000 — even as West Indies cricket fortunes slumped to new lows.

Only once, for just a few months in 2009, have West Indies held the trophy since that defeat in 2000.

When the English arrived in the Caribbean last month, there was very little expectation that the home team could have won.

To be fair, England had just trounced Sri Lanka in that country while the West Indies had lost badly in Bangladesh.

Credit is due to the West Indies captain Mr Jason Holder and his team, as well as the coaching/management staff, that they have completely outplayed England in the first two Tests of the Sandals Home Series in Barbados and Antigua.

Incredibly, West Indies have reclaimed the coveted Wisden Trophy with a Test still to be played — starting today in St Lucia.

The decision of the 22-year-old fast bowler Mr Alzarri Joseph to play the second Test, shortly after hearing that his cancer-stricken mother had died, speaks to the wonderful spirit within the team.

It's been said, and justifiably so, that two Test wins over England, no matter how convincing, 'do not a summer make'. That's true. But there can be no denying that this has been a wonderful performance, fully deserving of sustained applause.

A slow over rate ban means Mr Holder will not play in St Lucia. That may well negatively affect the West Indies' ambition to beat England 3-0.

Regardless, Caribbean cricket lovers will long treasure this triumph.