Ian Hart: Can the Windies reverse the current trend?

Cricket action
Cricket action

W ith the exception of the pyjama-like kits, the ICC Champions Trophy is almost like harping back 42 years to 1975 and the inaugural Cricket World Cup sponsored by Prudential.

Eight teams, hosts England, Australia, West Indies, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and East Africa.

Two groups of four, semi-finals and a final which saw Clive Lloyd’s legendary West Indies, backed by their calypso supporters, beat Australia at Lord’s on a blazing hot day in late June to be the first winners.

Unfortunately for some, times have well and truly changed. In the world’s current top eight, East Africa are long gone. In fact they never played as a team in world cricket again, replaced now by a post apartheid South Africa, while former one-day kings the West Indies find themselves below Bangladesh in the pecking order.

Having visited the Caribbean, in fact I witnesssed England lose a Test Match inside three days in Barbados, it’s clear they are still passionate about their cricket but the glory days of Lloyd, Richards, Lara and the like are long gone.

I had the privilege of sitting next to Gordon Greenidge for lunch last summer when Worthing took on Lashings. From his glittering Test and one-day career, he’s ended up as a selector for the Test team.

While a number of Caribbean youngsters favour careers in US-based professional basketball and baseball, Gordon himself felt that the remaining cricketers on the islands, while not short in ability, were seriously coming up short in attitude and application.

Whether or not they will ever reverse that trend remains to be seen. And on the subject of cricketing trends, despite a second Championship win of the season, I’m still concerned that yet another season is in danger of petering out at Sussex.

The only saving grace being the upcoming NatWest t20 Blast, which seems to attract near sell-out crowds at Hove all the time Sussex are still in with a shout of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

It’s a far cry from a decade-or-so ago, when the club won three County Championships in five years, along with a number of one-day competitions.

They were some great days and lifelong cricketing memories which with the recent form does beg the question, were the ‘Glory Years’ a elongated version of Leicester City’s Premier League win?

An exception rather than the norm?

And, unfortunately, is the norm what local cricket fans had witnessed prior to 2003 and have for the past few years?

Another nostalgic sporting memory was the ITV 7, complete with John Rickman, Lord John Oaksey and Brough Scott, and now ITV Sport have rolled back the years with the newly acquired coverage of horse racing in this country.

I watched last Saturday’s coverage of the Epsom Derby and I have to say the ITV output was excellent, both informative and entertaining.

The last few years have seen a number of major TV sporting events end up on satellite TV. When terrestrial television appears to get its act together and produce excellent coverage of a blue riband sporting event on free-to-air TV, it’s certainly a shot in the arm for the viewers who can’t afford to pay subscription channels for their sport.

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