Why I stopped believing in WI Cricket

I am a product of the Eighties. That's when my love of sports took roots. I remember actually studying the game of cricket by asking my elders about the various positions on the pitch. Cricket is a very complicated game, and listening to it on the radio, one had to be able to visualize the players running around the pitch. Cricket was very popular in the Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean, and I quickly cultivated a love for the game. Viv Richards was my favourite West Indian player. I loved his swashbuckling style and his arrogance (now termed 'swagger'). He deliberately went after the opponent's top bowlers, and frequently knocked them out of the bowling lineup. I remember being up at 2, 3 0' clock in the mornings watching the WI playing. When my firstborn was a baby, I did not mind getting up in the middle of the night to hush her back to bed because it gave me a reason to watch some cricket. 'Whack them Waquar'. I was mesmerized to see Wasim Akaar bowl an inswinging yorker.

Aaawww....those were the glory days of West Indian cricket.....ending in the early nineties with the departure of Ambrose, Walsh Adams and Richardson. Then the came the demise. At first, I, like the rest of the Caribbean, refused to accept that the WI could fall from such lofty heights. Regardless of how many runs the opposing team would put up, it was expected that someone would produce 'another' amazing batting display to knock off the score, or one of our 'protege' from off the fast bowling assembly line would bowl them out. It took me several years of continuous disappointments before I was able to let go and accept that the once mighty WI team, one that produced such Greats as Sir Viv, Sir Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Garner, Holding, Ambrose, Walsh (these were just a few whom I witnessed in my lifetime), was becoming a shadow of itself. Today, the WI team is now a big joke. I dropped the game when I migrated to the states some years ago, and no longer even read about it.

Last week, RBSC forumite Dunny lamented about the lack of support the Reggae Boyz receive here in the USA when they play. For many Jamaicans living in the USA, the Reggae Boyz is synonymous to the WI cricket team. As another forumite HL always says, "Jamaicans prefer cricket to football". That statement is somewhat true amongst the older generation which goes back to our colonial ties. It does not hold true however, for today's generation which sees cricket as being too slow. Football is much more popular with today's Jamaican youths, but not necessarily JAMAICAN football. For fans of my age group, 35 - 45, we fall in between. That is because we have witnessed and experienced the ecstacy of reaching a World Cup finals, and have seen the potential of how far we can go. For today's youths, France 98 is a distant memory - story in our football folklore. It is stories told about our Boys' exploits on their road to France, just as how I heard stories about Allan 'Skill' Cole and Lenny Hyde. Nothing was done after '98 to build on that foundation. As a result, it left us (fans in my age group) disillusioned, and nothing to pass on to our kids. No stories to tell. Many of the fans that packed the stadia on the Boyz journey to France were "waggonists". But so what. Our Boyz needed them to lift them on their journey. Our football was fast becoming as irrelevant as WI cricket...until the first round of this Gold Cup.

It has taken me this long to get over my disappointment of losing the game two Sundays ago to the USA. I have not read any posts relating to our game, nor have I been on the forum (much) for the past week. It is not easy facing up to the truth when it goes against your perception of yourself. I, like many of us here, allowed myself to believe that we were actually better than we are. I threw caution to the wind and got caught up in our new dazzling display on the the field. Let me say however, I still believe that we HAVE turned a corner and gotten a glimpse of where we can go as a footballing nation. We just have to continue to build on what we have and evolve.

To put it bluntly, Theodore "Tappa" Whitmore was outcoached by Bob Bradley. If there was ever a time to beat the USA, it was two Sundays ago. The stars were aligned in Jamaica's favour for us to achieve something historic, but it was just not to be. Bradley went into the game with a plan and formation to nullify Jamaica's biggest weapon - SPEED. It worked beautifully for the USA and Tappa did not have an answer. He showed a lack of tactical experience by not changing the formation in the second half. His personnel selections also were questionable. Rudolph Austin and Luton Shelton need to seriously work on their game before donning our colours again. Maybe it's too late for them at this stage.

During Mike Tyson's heydays, he won many of his fights before he even threw a punch. His opponents were petrified of his awesome power. Many of our Caribbean minnows, Barbados, Antigua, Montserrat, Trinidad, are scared of Jamaica when they play us. They approach the game with a defensive mindset of how to counter our weapons. Jamaica entered the game against the USA with a similar mindset. At no time during that game did we play like we were USA's equal or even their betters. That comes from the coach. We never played to our strengths and that's why it hurt me so much. I would rather lose 6 love fighting and showing some grit than losing the way we did that Sunday.

All is not lost, and, in my opinion, there is only one way to go....up.

The JFF must build on what we achieved from that Gold Cup.

It was the first time since I started watching that our national team was playing such fluent football. Tappa needs to continue his on-the-job training by going overseas into more professional environments. He needs to play more international matches to match wits against better coaches and teams. He needs to continue to scour the country and other overseas leagues to find better players to fit into HIS system. And most of all, he needs continued encouragement because he is doing a good job.

Article by:- Jangle of the RBSC Forum

Post date:- 27th June, 2011

Editor's Note: While these articles are filled with correspondent's insight and expertise, they are based on the author's point of view and may contain speculation

as well as fact. The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of The Reggae Boyz Supporterz Club.