This month’s Esquire (Middle East) magazine features a beautifully written article on West Indies Cricket by Paul Wilson entitled, “So What Happened?” In this piece the writer accurately discusses the history of West Indies Cricket and traces it to its current sorry state. He even provided an explicit exposé into a new film that celebrates the former fierce and victorious West Indies team which has now morphed into becoming one of the worst cricketing sides in the world.
As so many commentators have done before in eulogizing the glory days of West Indies cricket, so has Mr. Wilson. He began by highlighting the crucial Test Series against Australia in 1975-76 when the Aussies strike bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson paved the way for the Windies side to receive a humiliating 5-1 thrashing. This appalling defeat, Wilson believed, was the turning point for West Indies Cricket in the mid-70s. He writes, “With the psychological and physical impact of Lillee and Thomson fresh in his mind, Clive Lloyd resolved that the West Indies would do unto others what others had done unto them, only harder.”
The writer went on to highlight that after Lloyd had developed a well-oiled West Indian cricketing machine, they would lose only two test series in two decades. These were indeed the golden years of West Indies cricket which came to a crashing halt by the late-90s.
It is very refreshing to learn that a full length film has been made focusing mainly on the best years of West Indies cricket, celebrating the only uniting Caribbean force known to mankind. Fire in Babylon according to the writer is a film directed by Steven Riley that deals with the formation of the indomitable West Indies side of the late 70s and 80s. Wilson states that, “Fire in Babylon is a film rich in evocative archive footage and contemporary talking heads, and then there’s the music. As well as a soundtrack by with the likes of Marley and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, who emerged in parallel with this West Indies team, the film features live performances of reggae and mento (Jamaican folk music) songs about West Indies cricket.”
Fire in Babylon I believe would be an excellent film for cricket fans, especially West Indian fans many of whom are now accustomed to seeing their team viciously snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The article ends with some very blistering views from Mr. Michael Holding. One in particular that stands out for me is: “And I don’t think there is a good rapport between the West Indies Cricket Board and its players. My honest opinion is we have a few people involved in West Indies cricket right now because of what they think they can get from West Indies cricket, not what they think they can do for West Indies cricket, and that is wrong.”
I wonder when West Indies cricket will return to a semblance of its past glory. Poor sporting administration, fetid politics, lack of technical application on the field and a fractured relationship between the players association and the Board are certainly not helping in any way possible.