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Windies won, yes, we won! Best changes tune after 5-wkt win and a Brylcreem sandwich

Spflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflfllflflflflllllllllllll!

Oh, I beg your pardon; that was my last mouthful.

Even with a liberal coating of Brylcreem, hair doesn’t taste too good—although, given a choice, I’d take it any day over KFC. And cold turkey.

Photo: Oh gaddo! He did it…

And boy, am I ever glad I got rid of my maroon Richie Richardson hat and exchanged it for a simple white tam. I don’t think I would have survived it if I had really had to eat that as well.

Actually, I’m not going down without a fight. With Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope going guns after lunch and looking like they wanted to replicate their first innings heroics, I put in a call to Senior Investigative Reporter Mark Bassant, who had done such a good job with the Cabo Star and the Ocean ???. I figured that there had to be more to this extraordinary performance than met the eye.

Bassant was all business.

“And where is this game being played?” he enquired, brusquely.

“Why,” I responded, “at Headingley.”

“Sorry,” he shut me down, “call me when they get to Trent Bridge; I only do bridges.”

And that was that.

It’s nothing short of extraordinary, really it is. Holder’s men weren’t simply beaten at Edgbaston; they were annihilated.

Photo: West Indies’ Chadwick Walton (top) collides with Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad while attempting a run during a T20I match at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 30 March 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/ Jewel Samad)

They were, someone wrote, “mocked, pilloried, ridiculed. They were a disgraceful rabble, not fit to wear the maroon cap.”

I didn’t write those last 12 words. But I agreed wholeheartedly. And added a few of my own, saying smugly that “The 321-run lead that Joe Root allowed his side to build before calling a halt to his second innings at 490 for 9 is more than a bridge too far for Holder and his band of now dismayed men; they couldn’t get there without help from NASA.”

I listed the three things that President Cameron’s men—how dare anyone call this bunch “the West Indies”?—had going for them, confident in the knowledge that it was completely irrelevant.

But hindsight, they say, is the T20 version; it’s where the real action is. I know now that nothing is irrelevant in Test cricket. That explains its eternal appeal. That explains why, pronounced brain dead more than a decade ago, the oldest format continues to thrill even today.

Who would have thought that Jason Holder’s team of Caribbean schoolboys was capable of competing with Joe Root’s troops in the unfamiliar conditions of Headingley?

Perhaps Joel Garner but not I!

Photo: West Indies’ Shai Hope (right) hits a boundary during the second ODI match against India at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 25 June 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

Who would have thought that Shai Hope, with nary a century to his name and three boundaries and a mere 33 runs under his belt from the 63 balls he faced in the Edgbaston Test, would go where no batsman has gone before and score one in each innings at Headingley?

Perhaps Joel Garner but not I!

Who would have thought that Brathwaite, who had lived such a charmed life all day, would, after the defiantly masterful one in the first innings, come within a whisker of registering a second one at Headingley?

Perhaps Joel Garner but not I!

Who would have thought that, dismissed twice in just over two sessions at Edgbaston, Holder’s side would merit comparison with Don Bradman’s 1948 Invincibles, scoring over 300 runs in the fourth innings to win at Headingley?

Perhaps Joel Garner but not I!

Photo: West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel appeals for a decision.
(Copyright Cricketworld)

So, although one swallow does not a summer make, I’m prepared to say that Garner was right and I was wrong.

Although one swallow does not a summer make, I’m prepared to take my hat off to Brathwaite and Hope (S) and the fearless Jermaine Blackwood, whose approach reminded me of the young, unpolished Viv Richards.

Although one swallow does not a summer make, I’m prepared to give Holder’s men the title of “West Indies;” they’ve earned it.

However, I shan’t be betting that we will win the Third Test at Lord’s next month. Or, frankly, even seriously compete.

But I know the attitude of the British press will be far different from what it was after Headingley.

In fact, I can’t wait to read the British press tomorrow; I’m truly excited to see what they are saying about us now.

Photo: West Indies’ fans cheer during the third of four T20I matches between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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68 comments

  1. The Leeds win was OUTSTANDING…the batting line-up can look quite formidable:

    Brathwaite
    Hope
    Bravo j
    Chase
    Blackwood

    I am not at all sure that the present bowling line-up can.consistently take 20 wickets to win tests for WI even aainst Zimbabwe and Bangladesh:

    Holder
    Gabriel
    Roach
    Cummings
    Bishoo
    Joseph

  2. When politics and naked insularity entered,West Indian cricket left.

  3. They needed to be publicly shamed, shame

  4. Read this article… and tell me what’s the difference then and now… 20 years later… tell me!
    Rewind to 1998: When Lara led a players’ strike | Cricket | ESPN Cricinfo
    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/605998.html

  5. Poor Geoff..while he did not make it as a ‘black face’ he still made it as a;’yellow” since the West Indies put all that egg of the faces of the cricket journalists..Arise Sir ,”Glooflee Broycrott”.

  6. WEST INDIAN PRIDE. Let me say up front that since Brian Lara stopped playing test cricket I am a fair weather W.I. cricket fan. The reason for same is that I believe the bunch of losers who came after were more interested in financial rewards than in the history and pride of West Indian cricket. Not knowing their history, to them the three W’s meant the World Wide Web. I think this all changed when they won the second test against England earlier this week. Here is the reason why. When Geoff Boycott made his racist and asinine remark that he would have a better chance of being knighted if he blackened up his face because, knighthoods were handed out like confetti to West Indian players the current West Indian cricketers understood this insult. The players who were knighted not only stood for excellence but understood what West Indian cricket meant to people who populated these small dots in the Caribbean Sea. They bestowed the pride of place for the small islands in the international community. I posit that for the first time in a very long time the current W.I. cricketers understood what Frank Worrell. Vivian Richards, Garfield Sobers et al stood for; the pride and dignity they gave to West Indians – moving the small dots in the Caribbean Sea from the margins of the rest of the world to universal recognition. I would like to believe that Boycott’s insult was so loud and clear that it not only motivated these current players but forced then to reassess the depths to which WI cricket and its heroes have fallen and what the cricketing world think of them. How else can one explain an abysmal performance in the first test match to an outstanding performance in the second. Now that Usain Bolt has retired, WI cricketers have to take up the baton, rise to the challenge and continue to keep the West Indian flag flying. We must never return to the periphery of world recognition. Neither can we have the men and women, through their blood, sweat and tears, made us proud to be West Indians and whose efforts must not be belittled by lesser mortals who believe that they are entitled to white privilege. Let us hope that this victory was not a flash in the pan but the renaissance of another golden age of WI cricket. And that is my thought provoking opinion on West Indies cricket.

    • You’re assuming among other things that they read Geoff Boycott’s criticism. It is possible the young team has just adapted to the English conditions in the 2nd test. Let’s see what happens in 3rd test.

    • I nearly stopped reading at the first sentence. Only out of respect for Colin that I continued reading till the end—if he tagged me it’s worth the read.
      “Even a broken watch gets the time right twice a day” and we all know for a fact that WI cricket is broken. But the men and women who play on the teams have pride and skill and fight. And that’s what we saw.
      You’re blaming money over that for the demise of WI cricket? What is the factual basis of that? EVERYYYYYY cricketer I’ve ever interviewed says that the WI call up is the pinnacle of their career. I caution you against doubting that. But money is important to anyone. Look at the guys and girls who play in maroon—look at their beginnings. They want a system of things that puts the most distance between that beginning and themselves at the end of their career.
      You count the few Sirs with the black faces. Players count the hundreds of names that’s donned maroon floppy hats that died poor. To those men the letters before the name are way less important than the 000’s behind the numbers on the cheques.
      England was just given a gentle reminder of why they had to get the systems in place that have made them a top Test nation in the first [or is that second place, seeing as they invented the MF game anyway? Lol]…so that they would never get white washed by black faces from the Colonies ever again.

    • Cricket has always and will always have fair weather fans… also fans who think they know what’s best for WI cricket without knowing fully, what goes on behind the scenes… I remember when Lara got booed in Jamaica… the ’99 series… that was after we get 5 in we MC from SA… yes even Lara + Walsh + Amby got whitewashed… but after Jamaica… in that same series… Lara produced the greatest test match innings ever… 153*… and people were back to loving him again… The late great Tony Cozier put it aptly… “The Prodigal son, turn Messiah”
      The problem existed then… and it still exists now.. Then it was Pat Rousseau… now it’s Dave ‘idiot’ Cameron

    • Come on now, that’s a totally untrue statement to say that many of current players post Lara were more interested in money & don’t know WI history

      That’s plays into to already disproven talking points WICB/CWI have peddled for years

      Clearly you forgot the amount of times Lara fought with WICB just like modern players & how many people outside of Trinidad actually used to boo Lara at Caribbean venues

      If T20 leagues was around in Lara’s time he would not have played 100 test

      • Earl Best

        Hillary Beckles says in one of his books that the Age of the Mercenary in West Indies cricket coincided with the advent and rise of Brian Charles Lara. It’s hard not to agree.

        Within his first year as captain, he kept almost the whole team holed up in a London hotel until the Board agreed to raise their pay.

        BCL was a wonderful cricketer, without a doubt one of the best batsmen to watch in full flow. But make no mistake, he didn’t come cheap.

        And nobody who has observed him-even from afar-can disagree with Colin’s assertion about the choices he would have made had he had the option.

    • Earl Best

      So you should have stopped while you were ahead. A lot of what you say is valid but the business of the “renaissance of another golden age” blah-blah is over the top. Way over the top…even if we somehow contrive to beat England by the same margin of our First Test cutarse.

      One swallow or even two swallows do not a summer make.

      We have, in case you haven’t been following, “turned the corner” so many times now that there can be no doubt that we’re going around in circles!

    • Last night the Jamaicans booed Gayle, I couldn’t believe it. You show respect for his achievements, I can’t bat or bowl to save my life, much less to run, having a permanent disability….. I only read it because Colin tagged me. I am one of the few who is not celebrating this victory, as I believe for me to enjoy West Indian cricket again, wicb needs to be gutted and rebuilt without the involvement of egos and narcissistic personalities, to ensure the sport grows in a healthy and holistic way. That the fans, bandwagonists included, are appreciated and treated with respect, not like farm animals waiting to be let in at supper time when the bell rings. And lastly, who are we to judge players for going where the money is? Are any of us going to dip into our pockets and say “here’s a little something to help with your bills”. To be great requires talent, and a whole heap of money to train, purchase good quality equipment…. Players are human too. Instead of spreading racial comments and attacking the players, put up or shut up. I have shut up because I do not have the financial resources to put up. God help wicb if I ever do!

  7. Only fans who have started following WI Cricket yesterday will get all hyped over the Win yesterday.
    Remember 1999 vs Australia, 2003 World Record Chase, 2004 Champions Trophy, WI beating South Africa in a Test? Even just recently, WI beating England at Home, WI Beating Pakistan in UAE?

    What does those matches have in common?

    They all came on the backdrop of one or 2 great individual performance while the rest of the team were as usual failures……

    Lara and Shiv, Ambrose and Walsh has shown me as amazing as one may be, Great individual performances don’t win you Test often.
    Had England gotten Kraigg or Hope in either of those 4 Innings cheaply WI would of lost that Test.

    Barath Debut Ton, Ganga back to back hundreds against Australia, Kirk Edwards back to back hundreds, Powell back to back hundreds, remember those?

    Yea Yesterday was an incredible win but I’ve seen this all too often to even get hyped anymore…..

    All well for those who are hyped though but I’ll give them some time and see how they progress…..

    And yes, the win came despite of Holder poor Captaincy.

  8. a job well done…..just be consistent

  9. https://twitter.com/murgersb/status/902595756665786368

    “Buzzing after that #EngvWI Test. Let’s enjoy it but remember WI structural problems highlighted after Edgbaston loss are still there too!”

  10. “win away to…” grates on my nerves. You lose to… you don’t win to. You win over or against. Not to.

    Good win.

  11. https://twitter.com/fwildecricket/status/902589496994267136

    “Matches like this don’t prove that Test cricket isn’t dying—but they do prove why it’s worth trying to save.”

  12. .Thank you West Indies Team and Management. Joy and history.Keep on Trucking youthful players with passion.

  13. Today Was a Good Day So It Is Okay To Smile

    Everyone is well aware of the problems afflicting West Indies cricket, but i have always found it counterproductive to ridicule the efforts of the team. Every small step in the right direction is too often qualified and characterized as fortuitous. Fazeer today, suggesting that the Test match lacked integrity because of the number of dropped catches.

    I did not expect the West Indies to win today because although we have won many sessions in Test cricket in recent times, we have not been able to perform at a high level consistently. However, suggesting that the team is ‘the worst ever’ is more about venting of frustration than it is objective reality. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel can operate at the top level. The skipper is an honest leader, a fighter and a competent allrounder. Kraig Brathwaithe has been consistent more often than not. Roston Chase has shown an appetite and an aptitude for Test cricket. Shai Hope was a welcome revelation, while the others have interspersed cameos of good cricket with inconsistencies.

    Turning the proverbial corner has been long in coming but success is not predicated on venting or ridicule. With a smaller pool to choose from that all of the major cricketing nations, the shenanigans of the West Indies Cricket Board have made building momentum and morale very difficult. Additionally, so many years in the cricketing wilderness has supplanted a culture of success with an imperative for instant gratification bereft of the consistent effort that can deliver it.

    That said, we must not be reluctant to celebrate our victories on our journeys along Success Road. All team effort needs food for the soul to reinforce self belief. So well done to our West Indies Cricket team!. We will cherish this victory which has been so long in coming and get ready for Lords in the belief that we can compete, if we can structure our talent into a plan and implement it with discipline and commitment. That much we know because today we walked the talk.

    • Earl Best

      Andre, it’s not clear to me whether you think we have turned the corner or that we still have not turned the corner but yours is, in my opinion, a very balanced assessment.

      I’d highlight if anything your last five words with the adverb being, IMO, the operative word: TODAY we walked the talk.

      What will tomorrow bring? We wait…

  14. The young team selection has been somewhat vindicated. Let’s give the youth movement a chance. A well deserved victory aided by a slightly “premature” English declaration in my opinion, but that happens..

    • Even saying “somewhat vindicated” is generous in my opinion. But well done to the players.

    • Context is key – it’s clearly Zero vindication

      All this time they wasting giving these guys a “chance” to learn in international cricket with no senior support has already led to 50 overs team failing to qualify for champions trophy & for 2019 World Cup automatically

      Keep doing same in tests and a division 2 place beckons when ICC finally makes call on that

      Teams don’t move up ICC ranking system points gives no points for random test wins – only series wins

    • That’s your opinion and I am not surprised at all

    • Brian Jordan Opinion based on cricket reality backed with a lot stats and evidence

      No sense going overboard with test win calling it vindication of youth policy as much as it didn’t make sense when Geoff Boycott and some in British press was calling the WI worst team they had ever seen after 1st test loss

    • A win and a win against a pretty big opponent always gives something to build on, no matter how small. It doesn’t give zero no matter how you spin it man. Last week noone would have predicted a victory. Give a little credit when due sir. That’s all I am trying to do.

    • Brian Jordan Where have I not given them credit ? All I’m trying to do is encouraging balance perspective of the win

      In April the one day team beat ICC Champions trophy winners Pakistan in Guyana to record highest ever ODI in WI history. Then two months later they lost a ODI to Afghanistan and the knives were out

      Ardent observers of WI have seen this movie before #nooverhype #balance

      https://twitter.com/murgersb/status/902595756665786368

      “Buzzing after that #EngvWI Test. Let’s enjoy it but remember WI structural problems highlighted after Edgbaston loss are still there too!”

    • “Balanced” is not what I get from your WI cricket commentary sir. I look forward to the team continuing to build with these young building blocks for this series and others to come

    • Brian Jordan that’s fine

      Once the two worlds biggest cricket websites which i write for on WI cricket continue to think I do – plus the players that’s all that matters

      And similarly i hope they build on it – just won’t make any premature statements

    • I am not making premature statements and I know the board has severely hurt W.I. cricket but their recent moves seem to be about healing the self inflicted wounds. Looking on with hope here.

  15. Dear Earl Best..While one swallow does not a swallow make..how many ‘swallows’ would you need to eat your hat…? P.S.I wrote that we were now playing friendly internationals instead of Test cricket after the first Test..okay, Earl, nah is okay..I ain’t hungry..You eat first..and leave some for the editor..

    • Earl Best

      Rae,
      What can I say? I don’t like to be wrong but I’ll take this any day. My only concern here is Cameron. If he says anything that suggests that today’s win was the fruit of some long-term vision or plan or some other similar shit, you know who’s going to blow a fuse in public.

    • Earl Best

      And, BTW, I’ve already swallowed hard, more than once. But you know the old saying about cobo and sponge cake? I suspect this wouldn’t stay down for too long…

  16. https://twitter.com/espncricinfo/status/902630341864701952

    “Since Aug ’97, WI have played 88 Tests away from home (excl BAN & ZIM), winning 4, including 2 of the last 3”

    • So we turning de corner again?

    • Nigel Myers ha nah long time WI fans know better

      In April they made a WI world record ODI chase victory vs PAK then 2 months later they lost an ODI to Afghanistan

      So we have seen this movie before – they got repeat this in final test & either win or draw

      A loss and we are back to having same boring discussions of the last 20 years

    • Subjective info bro. In 2008 the west indies won a test in South Africa against an attack containing ntini steyn and morkel. The pakistan teams we beat were badly out of form. Pakistan right after loosing to us in the uae was promptly whitewashed in Australia. Headingly also did not deteriorate the way it usually does. But wrll done to tge team. Always rated the hope brothers and brathwaite. If ut wasn’t for Gabriel’s pace however, we would have been chasing 500 again

  17. Congratulations West Indies well done.

  18. Congrats to the team, I must confess I expected the worst from them and wrote them off. While I’m praising them, in the same breath I’ll say this may be a total Eclipse performance that will happen once every 30 years, this is new to my eyes so to protect them I had to wear special eclipse glasses. I’ll cherish this moment because we may not see it in a long long time.

  19. Wonderful spirited performance. But dem eh getting me tie up just so. One-off performances can be savoured, but consistent competitiveness is the key. Attitudes of players an administrators need to change. We’ve been in the wilderness for far too long.