Entertaining Losers No More: Champions ‘Gangnam’ style!

I sometimes feel that the West Indies is every non-West Indian cricket fan’s favorite team after their own country.

If one were to ask cricket fans from different age groups and eras from across the world who their favorite side is (or, maybe, was!) after their own nation, I would not be surprised if West Indies figured in that list a large number of times.

At least they used to be – till perhaps a few years back.

Most cricket fans born before 1980 would always remember the domination that the West Indies had over cricket till the early 80’s. They held sway for close to a better part of the 15 years from 1970 or so. And most cricket fans loved their style of cricket. Few champion sides have this combination of both superlative performance and love from fans.

When Australia dominated world cricket from the late 90’s and most part of the last decade, while most fans were in awe of their abilities, hardly anyone liked it when Australia won.  Though every one respected the side and felt that the Australians were as close to invincibility in early 2000’s as the West Indies of the 70’s, even in neutral matches fans across the world hardly cheered wholeheartedly when Australia won.

But it was almost natural for fans, irrespective of which side they supported, and difficult even for the tough nosed critics to not appreciate the magic that Lloyd, Richards, Greenidge and Haynes, combined with Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Garner created on the cricket field.

When they won match after match, cricket fans around the world cheered. While the side’s performance tapered from the late 80’s into the early 90’s with a sole Lara or an occasional Ambrose-Walsh to cheer for, fans still hoped that the West Indies would win.

It is a bit tough to isolate what it is about the West Indian brand of cricket and, perhaps, life – but it has generally been a loved side.

That was probably the reason why almost everyone felt good when the West Indies finally won something significant –  the T20 World Cup – after so many years. Even the Sri Lankan fans who probably went into a state of shock on seeing their side lose, could not help but get entertained by the wild victory celebrations and display of joy. Imagine if a Pakistan would have celebrated like that in Mumbai after a final, or Australia beating England at the Lord’s. It would have been tough for the home crowd to appreciate.

But the emotion that West Indies provoked after the victory was that of unbridled joy. Perhaps the reason why even the home crowd despite its disappointment eventually came around to applaud them.

Well despite the celebrations, this is hardly likely to be the return of the might of the West Indies of the yesteryear. Be that as it may. For the moment, one can definitely say that in T20 at the very least, the West Indies are no more entertaining losers. They are very much the Champions who arrived out of nowhere – ‘Gangnam style’!

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