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In Tears and Mad Endings
13 May 2005
By: Liam Camps


The premise: West Indian cricket let out another death gasp at the Kensington Oval. Tears continued to flow as the faithful fans of this dying breed were wounded further.

Ian Bradshaw and Daren Powell were dismissed to rash cries for help toward the end of a thrilling run chase. Wild swipes when the game was prepared for a cruise to victory started the region-wide waterworks.

I present to you...
Less than analytical thoughts of a bewildered West Indian onlooker

When I sat down to do the match report for the third One Day International between the West Indies and South Africa - a.k.a The Debacle - I found myself questioning my ability to complete the task. The perfectly logical consideration was as to whether I was really capable of producing a piece of significant quality despite the trauma of the day gone.

I soon enough realized it necessary, if not impossible. Supposedly therapeutic, if nothing else. Indeed, for all the while I wrote, I tried to understand how such a feat was managed.

No doubt it shall forever be passed off as the clutch brilliance Charl Langeveldt, but the truth is, the young man did no more than his basic job - full and straight. Neither characteristic would have taken any wicket in the situation, let alone three in succession. Nay. It took a special West Indian effort for this miracle to transpire.

Yet again, just one word comes to mind - madness.

I could scarcely believe it as I stared at the TV screen. No true emotion came over me at the moment that the ball thud into the pads of Collymore. I knew it was all over before the ball was delivered. Such is West Indian cricket. Such is my sad disposition.

"I would suspect match-fixing, if only it weren't the West Indies team," I commented to my fellow onlooker. This team that I love - my passion, my pain - never ceases to amaze and simultaneously crush my spirit. Yet I keep going back. I keep tuning in. It is my curse.

That moment at the Kensington Oval solely inspired more disappointment, with its devastating implications, than any other of recent West Indian cricketing spasms. This was worse than 47 all out at Sabina Park in 2004. Worse than 51 all out at the Queen's Park Oval in 1999. Yes, this was very bad. At those venues the boys were outclassed by a superior opposing performance. On Wednesday 11th May 2005, the West Indies procured to truly implode.

There is a difference between winning a game and losing one. On this occasion, South Africa certainly did not win the game. The West Indies lost it comprehensively, and yet by just 1 run. True, certain questionable umpiring may be used as a means to fight on behalf of the Windies, but at the end of the day, there is no justification for poor cricket.

In cricket there are moments when a team or an individual determines fate. In this instance, the leap at hand was meagre, but the West Indies simply neglected to jump. The finale stretched beyond simply "forgetting how to win". Rather, the mentality seemed far more of the view "we are not capable of beating this team, so even though we are on the verge of doing so, we can not possibly carry through with it." It is one freakishly special brand of an inferiority complex. Incompetence under pressure at its finest. To think that one of the men who miraculously won the Champions Trophy for the West Indies started the chaos.

Mmmm... the Caribbean flavour.

Madness, lunacy, blood and tears.

Take this in no way to be my resignation, nor my emotional disconnection from the drama that is West Indies cricket. Neine. I do believe the team shall rise again to prominence, but for the moment, I revel in my disgust. Eventually I shall once again proclaim the words of David Rudder as eternal:

"We've lost the battle,
But yet we will win the war!
But we've go to rally 'round the West Indies."

...for it seems it will be near eternity before they ring true.

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