West Indies captain Jason Holder was suspended for a match for slow over rates and no one complained. The year was 2017 and West Indies had just lost to New Zealand by an innings. No one likes losers. Now, West Indies have triumphed with a series win against England and all hell has broken loose after their captain Holder has been banned for a Test for slow over rates. Same “crime”, different reactions. If everyone from Shane Warne to Michael Vaughan is indignant, the reason is that despite their decline over two decades, West Indies remain everyone’s favourite second team. It’s the sheer joy of seeing them win again — and this was no ordinary victory.
The best thing about this win is that it offers hope for the future. For the first time in two decades, there seems to be a will in place. Even the administrators are doing their bit — the West Indian CEO Johnny Grave went against prevailing wisdom in the islands that countenanced slow low pitches and used the kookaburra ball which would lose seam to make sure their batsmen could prosper. He demanded spicy pitches and got the Dukes ball back — the confidence shown in the four-pronged pace attack was repaid with the way they bowled. Alzarri Joseph was quick and imaginative, Shannon Gabriel was pacy and accurate, Kemar Roach was at his best, Roston Chase was skilful and Captain Holder, with his steady seam and batting, offered great balance. Their batsmen dug trenches and fought — in the Antigua Test, the batsmen Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite played 62 overs for 99 runs.
In recent times, teams around the world didn’t quite count their achievements against West Indies as much. Fans would mock them. India are going to tour West Indies after the World Cup and for the first time in years, everyone is preparing to willingly suspend their sleep for the excitement on the field.