Hammer. Smash. Knock-out. Repeat.
That has been the pattern in the ongoing test series between India and the West Indies and it really has been a poor watch. I am no expert on West Indian cricket but it is clear that there is a clear gulf between the two sides. Forget the politics between WIPA and WICB, I don’t think the result would be different even if their best players (Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell etc.) did play test cricket.
Everybody knows West Indies are Champions at white-ball cricket. The Under-19 World Cup and T20 game (both men and women) have been owned by them this year. Limited overs cricket is fast, furious and dictated by the power and athleticism of the participants. But red ball cricket is a different game. It tests skill and application and requires the patience to wear down the other side before taking advantage. It requires bowlers to have plans to get defensive batsman out as well as the stamina to execute those plans.
India have done that well in this series. Kohli and Rahul have scored big hundreds. Ashwin has scored runs and taken wickets for fun. The bowlers are gelling well together. The fielders are taking their catches. The batsmen are scoring runs. I don’t want to take credit away from the Indians but they have simply not been challenged.
One only needs to watch Fire in Babylon to see the awe the great West Indian teams once inspired. Four fast bowlers breathing fire. A barrage of supersonic bouncers. Viv Richards, Gordon Grenidge and Clive Lloyd. Batsmen who would destroy attacks. Successive World Cup wins. Fifteen years without losing a test series. Greatness. World domination.
Lara, Chanderpaul, Hooper, Walsh and Ambrose gamely carried the West Indian flag for a while but it has been over 20 years since the West Indies were a real force to reckon with in test cricket.No matter what the BCCI says about revenue and protecting the little nations, it’s now time for a two tier test structure. The West Indies should be relegated to the second tier and be made to earn their right to play top tier test cricket. Other nations like Ireland, Afghanistan, the Netherlands and Nepal need to be given a shot at playing against them. That is the only way test cricket will retain meaning – by making it a matter of pride to be playing in the top tier of the game.
A hundred against the West Indies was once something to be cherished – ask Sunil Gavaskar. Now Ravichandran Ashwin has three tons against the Windies.
The current series is just not test cricket.