West Indies in 2005

With a solitary Test victory and numerous One Day International defeats, West Indies cricket took blow after blow in the year 2005, on and off the field. Like a mismatched and under-prepared boxer, each blow not only inflicted physical damage upon the institution of the game, but also sapped the spirit of the players and supporters. Money complicated the sport, resulting in an incomplete player pool and a figurative hell for new coach Bennett King to begin his reign.

Contract disputes began the year with immediate impact, figuring in the elevation of Shivnarine Chanderpaul to the helm of West Indies cricket. The move came after incumbent captain Brian Lara made himself unavailable for selection, siding with other keys players in a much-publicized impasse between the WICB and the players. Chanderpaul led the second string West Indies to a commanding draw in the first Test against South Africa, but thereafter he found his team crumble to defeat after heartwrenching defeat.

Added to the more spotlighted newsworthy disputes, Teddy Griffith elected not to serve another term as President of the WICB. He was replaced by businessman Ken Gordon, though the popular call appeared to be for Clive Lloyd, the former West Indies captain. Conflict between the Chairman of the Cricket World Cup Board, Rawle Brancker, and the Board’s CEO, Chris Dehring, saw the resignation of the former. Gordon elected also to take up that position, and a resulting exodus meant that the World Cup Board was restructured almost entirely.

Allen Stanford, an Antigua-based businessman, offered some positivity with a pledge of US$28 million to the establishment of 20/20 cricket in the region. He signed fourteen cricketers as ambassadors to the project, insisting that his intentions are to assist West Indies cricket rather than take it over.

On the field, there was encouraging bowling by an under-strength team in Sri Lanka and a Test match win against Pakistan to celebrate, but all the genuine highs of the year came down the stretch. Brian Lara followed up a run of poor scores with a sensational 226 in the West Indies’ final Test of a the year – a score that earned him the title as Test cricket’s leading runscorer. Poor umpiring decisions and poor form had plagued Lara in the build-up to the Test match, and though he could not prevent defeat even in his record-breaking glory, it was a cherished moment and comfort for West Indian fans at the end of a difficult year.

In terms of the grand scheme of West Indies cricket, however, Lara was not responsible for the most significant moment of 2005. That honour belonged to the young and spirited Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin. Playing with the passion of yesterday’s West Indian cricketers, Bravo and Ramdin found success and respect in Australia with the type of courageous cricket that feeds hope of a revival within the region.

Almost unnoticed in the events of the year was a quiet high, as the ICC mandated that the West Indies Women’s Cricket Federation be merged with the WICB, a move long overdue.

The West Indies looks toward 2006 as the year of preparation for the 2007 World Cup, to be held in the Caribbean for the first time. The hope is that the troubles of 2005 can be firmly discarded, reflected in brighter results on the field and off.

Test Player of the Year 2005: Brian Lara
ODI Player of the Year 2005: Shivnarine Chanderpaul
One to Watch in 2006: Denesh Ramdin

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