Once upon a time in Windies cricket

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ImageIn 1960/61, Frank Worrell was made captain of the West Indies cricket team to tour Australia. It was and still is, one of the greatest Test series of all time. The first game was a tie. Australia won the second and WI were victorious in the third. The fourth proved another tremendous contest, in which the Aussies’ last pair batted out the last session and drew the game. The final Test was won by Australia by two wickets over a contentious decision given to Australia. The late Tony Cozier wrote eloquently in his book The West Indies: Fifty Years of Test Cricket: “Australia won by two wickets and, as a consequence, became the first holders of the Frank Worrell trophy, presented by the Australian Board of Control for International Cricket for perpetual competition between the two teams – a great and heartfelt tribute to the West Indies captain who, during the four and a half months he spent in Australia, had won the warmth and affection for the public at large for him and his team. “It was to be the beginning of a mighty era in West Indian cricket.” That tour to Australia changed everything in the cricket world. The following year, WI went on to whip India five-nil at home under Worrell. After the whitewash of India, WI toured England in 1963, beating them by a three-one margin in the five-Test series. West Indian cricketers became so popular on that tour that the English hierarchy changed the face of English cricket. In a plan to introduce them to county cricket, they changed the rules for qualification to include foreign players. At that time, first-class cricket in England had been losing its appeal for a number of years, and the officials thought the aggressive and attractive Caribbean cricketers would stir things up and improve the crowd appeal with their enthusiasm for the game. Only two foreign players were allowed per team, but for the first year, one would have to qualify. The twin tour of England by two teams touring every summer, except for Australia, was introduced, whereas before, it was one team visit every summer. After 1963, the WI cricket team was invited to return in 1966 for a full tour and to share the summer of 1969. This was a huge change to the cricket scene. It was done because the next WI tour after 1963 was carded for 1971. The rules were lifted in 1968 and there were a number of West Indians who attracted the interest of the counties. That was the first year that West Indians played in the County Championship. Before that, in 1965, WI, under Garfield Sobers, defeated Australia for the first time ever. The five-Test series was won by a two-one margin and WI were crowned world champions. The hype before the series was that this would be a battle for the world championship of cricket, although unofficial. The reason was, both teams had beaten the other Test teams at the time: hence this series was dubbed the Cricket World Championship. This is to prove that the cricket success of WI did not start when their players began playing for counties in England, as some people seem to think. There were no organised league competitions among the WI territories until 1964. That was when WI cricket had its own first-class league tournament. [caption id="attachment_1025011" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Image -[/caption] In 1966, Shell Oil Company agreed to sponsor the league. That agreement helped stabilise WI cricket. Before that, it was left to individual territories to arrange their own games against each other. This brought the West Indies on par with English county cricket and Australian Sheffield Shield Cricket as far as domestic first-class competition, to develop cricketers, was concerned. Limited-overs cricket had its birth with first-class cricketers in 1963 when, because of falling revenues, English county cricket experimented with the one-day game. It was played over 60 overs a side, and many changes were made to the rules to make it interesting. It was so successful that a rain-ruined Test in an Ashes series in Australia in 1970 was converted to a one-dayer. The Aussie spectators loved it and the idea of a limited-overs World Cup was born. The first year, 1975, was to be followed every four years. WI won the first two tournaments, never to win since. In 1983, they lost to India. In 2023, 40 years later, they failed to qualify.  The post Once upon a time in Windies cricket appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

Source: https://newsday.co.tt/2023/07/11/once-u ... es-cricket
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