The moniker ‘Calypso Kings’ attached to the West Indies team may hold little relevance now. The last 20 years have seen them going from good to bad to worse to pathetic.
Since the turn of millennium they have lost 82 Tests and won a mere 14. But things were never the same since they were once the mighty team that dominated the world cricket.
The 1970s and 1980s saw the West Indian juggernaut crush its oppositions with utter ease. During that period, the team won two 50-over World Cups, were runners-up once and won 71 Tests while lost only 20.
The late 1990s saw them going downhill in both the formats of the game. But just when it seemed that the team from the Caribbean may never regain its lost reputation, the Twenty20 (T20) format arrived as a ray of hope.
The West Indian cricketers never lacked talent, but it was just that they had reached to the saturation point in the older formats and badly needed a fresh lease of life, which came in the form of T20s. It was just the platform their stylish and flamboyant cricketers needed to express themselves with flair.
The established players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy etc took to it like fish to water. Their success inspired a whole new generation of T20 cricketers like Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell to develop their skills based on the needs of the shortest format.
With the T20 boom, came the Indian Premier League (IPL) and a host of other leagues, and suddenly these players became the cynosure of all franchises. Any league around the world seemed incomplete without the West Indian flavour and their success in leagues world over led to the conception of Caribbean Premier League (CPL) which in turn produced more T20 talent.
Now we had a West Indian team, which continued to struggle in Tests and mostly in ODIs too. But in T20Is, it appeared an entirely different outfit. The presence of Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Bravo, Russell, Sammy, Narine, Samuel Badree among others made them a formidable unit.
No more were they just making up the numbers in the ICC World T20s, but were seen as serious contenders. The results soon showed when they made it to the semi-final of the 2009 edition of the tournament in England. It did a world of good to their confidence and it was just a matter of time they took another leap.
And that happened in the 2012 edition, when the West Indies emerged as the winners in Sri Lanka, beating the hosts in the final. This was the moment of glory the team had been badly needing for long; a soothing balm to the worries of the millions of fans who not just admired their brand of cricket, but also as cricket purists needed a strong West Indian side in world cricket.
They continued their good run in 2014, when they reached the semi-finals and were knocked out not by the opponents, but rain. They enter the 2016 edition in India as contenders once again. Though they have lost key players Pollard and Narine, who pulled out of the tournament for personal reasons, and Lendl Simmons, who has been ruled out by injury; but they are still a big force and can topple any team on their day.
Whether or not the ‘Calypso Kings’ return to the party will unfold in the next fortnight!