DHAKA. — Even in their hour of triumph on Sunday, after they had shocked favourites India to win the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, the West Indies’ controversial victory over Zimbabwe in a group match continued to stalk, if not taint, the success of the teenage stars from the Caribbean.
The Windies beat India on Sunday but that they owed their success to one of the most controversial episodes in the history of the ICC Under-19 World Cup, when they beat Zimbabwe in a tense group game that went all the way, diluted some of the purity of their triumph.
The West Indies could have fallen in the group stages had they not won their final group game against Zimbabwe and, with the African side poised to grab a place in the quarter-finals at the expense of the men from the Caribbean, Keemo Paul effected a controversial dismissal of Zimbabwe’s last man.
Paul’s run out of Richard Ngarava, on the non-striker’s end, was a controversial moment in the game and was widely condemned by many current and former icons of the game with one respected writer even going to the extent that the game had been dragged “to the dogs.”
The West Indies side were labelled “absolutely disgraceful” by former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming last week, after their underhanded dismissal to take the final Zimbabwe wicket by “mankad,” where the bowler removes the bails before delivering the ball to run out the non-striking batsman who is caught out of his crease when preparing to run.
England’s ODI skipper Eoin Morgan also condemned the Windies and there were even calls for them to be thrown out of the tournament and replaced by Zimbabwe. But, against all odds, they cleared that hurdle, and even went on to win the tournament.
Former West Indies fast bowler, Ian Bishop, who followed this team throughout the campaign as a TV commentator, said that he felt the Mankad incident spurred on the team.
“I think the Zimbabwe win and the whole Mankad issue, whether you agree it was right or wrong, spurred them on,” he said after their win over India.
“Some of the issue that was said about Keemo Paul and team, was disgraceful. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, because they just lifted their game after that. The passage of cricket was untidy.
“I didn’t see the Fiji game, but they showed potential against England even if they lost.” Bishop said while their preparation was far from ideal, the tournament was an indication that there was still plenty of talent underneath the surface in the Caribbean.
“They didn’t have ideal preparation and it should not serve as the template going into the next World Cup,” he observed. “But what the win says is that there is tremendous amount of talent. We don’t have the volume of bowlers and batsmen in the past, but I think we have enough talent and these guys have proved that it needs to be harnessed.”
This coming together has been the long lost story of West Indies cricket.
A group of teenagers have now shown the way, whether it is through sheer guts to effect a Mankad or run a batsman who was just leaving the ball and taking a step out.
In the heat of the battle, their realisation that Mohammad Saifuddin was only bowling yorkers and it can be tackled by a shorter back-lift and low intensity batting, said much about their awareness which should win a lot of praise.
The likes of Paul, Imlach and Shamar Springer now have full cricket careers.
But they are from the West Indies; the conflicting West Indies, the dying West Indies. The West Indies that is only in nostalgia and one whose future seems uncertain. — Cricinfo.