Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Fantastico Duo of West Indians I grew up Adoring

The Fantastico Duo of West Indians I grew up adoring

West Indians were always fun to watch with their flashy techniques and likable nature off the field. They seemed fun loving guys and never seemed to sledge or bad mouth the opposition. In this post I will write about a batsman who played with the typical Caribbean flair and another who was the exact opposite of that style. Yet, both were Fantastico players who had a great impact on me while I grew up.

Richie Richardson

Richie Richardson was beginning to come to the end of his glittering career by the time I had started understanding and watching cricket with regularity. But I was instantaneously hooked to Richie’s uncomplicated style of play where his only intention was to attack the opposition bowler.

He was especially good against fast bowling and he feasted against the strong Australian team by scoring 9 test centuries against them in Australia. He also wore the wide brimmed maroon floppy hat instead of the helmet in a show of extreme confidence in his abilities and bravado.

He became the captain of the West Indian side in the early 1990’s and led them to 11 wins in the 24 tests that he captained. His final ODI appearance came in the 1996 World Cup semi-final where the West Indians committed hara-kiri and lost to the Australians despite being in the position to win the game. They had also lost to Kenya in the group stage and he eventually gave up.

He has been conferred with the title of ‘Sir’ and he has served as the manager of the West Indies team and is also on the ICC’s Elite Panel of Match Referees.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

In a West Indian side that was filled with batsmen who possessed flamboyant techniques and enhanced follow-throughs, Shiv came across as an unique oddity. His crab like stance where he stood almost facing the square leg umpire fooled many a bowler to believe that he could be a walking wicket but he managed to score runs by the bucketful and could stay at the crease for long periods of time.

That he played for over 20 years and finished with a test match average of over 50 while scoring 11867 runs speaks volumes for this under-rated batsman. He showed that there is a world beyond techniques and that if one has the confidence in what he is doing then the success will come automatically. In a West Indies side that became gradually weaker, he was their pillar of strength and the only shining light in their middle order.

He was also a very handy ODI player who scored runs relatively quickly and an ODI century off just 69 balls against the Australians scored in 2003 showed that he could bat aggressively if he wanted.

In the later part of his career he was routinely snubbed by the selectors and he finally announced his retirement from International cricket last week. I still feel that he could have had a much better impact in the weak middle order that West Indies have and he could have played for some more time.

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