For a while, there was a dominant theme among cricket writers dealing with the downfall of the West Indies. During each Windies series, they would search for signs of renewal, then either find them or conclude that none exist and bemoan the loss of a great cricketing legacy. Now, however, thanks to some better-than-expected outings in India, Lord’s and at home from the West Indians, these writers have sharpened their pens: This team does reasonably well (given the circumstances), but where is Gayle and the other Bravo? Why can’t Darren Sammy do more? Why can’t they string more good sessions together?
Let me humbly offer an alternative to this fit of rising expectations: the most I ever hope for from any two teams is to be entertained. There’s a lot of bonus stuff apart from that, but if two teams give me a reason to watch, the end result largely does not matter (if India is playing, I’ll add a big asterisk to this statement). So, for me right now, I watch the Windies because of Chanderpaul and Bravo, and occasionally a supporting actor (Samuels, or Roach, or Bishoo). I also have come to appreciate their brand of attritional cricket, which may not ever deliver victory, but is a) a throwback to olden times; b) a “price” on victory; and c) perfect for the setting in England. I can’t tell you how much joy I derive from nothing happening on a cricket field.
So, then, does it matter to me that the Windies will lose this series? Not really. Should I get myself into knots about their performance? Again, not really — as long as the above factors are in play, I’m happy. Jarrod Kimber may argue that this attitude is condescending; as he memorably writes, the whole reason we like the Windies is that they are underdogs, occasionally play above expectations, but rarely challenge a preferred team. But I think most writers on the Windies suffer from the past, and so watching the Windies play now is always a reminder of what-use-to-be. I much prefer my approach: find something to like, enjoy it, and then move on.