Known as the “Windies”, the West Indies are an international cricket team that consists of players from 15 different Caribbean countries, all of which are English speaking. These include many countries that fall under the dependency of Britain, including Anguilla and Montserrat, but there are also many independent nations, such as Barbados and Saint Lucia, and those who fall under Dutch and US dependancy.
In modern cricket the West Indies are generally considered to be one of the game’s best teams, although their better years seem to be behind them, with most of their success coming in the 1970s and 1980s, including victories in both the first and second ever World Cup tournaments.
The West Indies played their first Test match in 1928, although they had been playing for several decades prior to this. They played several tours against England in the early years and their last tour prior to the outbreak of the Second World War was also against England.
Even in the early days they were setting records and forcing others to take notice. One of their earliest stars was the bowler Learie Constantine, who played during the 1920s and 1930s, whilst in the 1940s bowler Hines Johnson became the first West Indies player to manage 10 wickets in a Test match.
The West Indies beat England for the first time in 1950 in a match played at Lords, and they had on-and-off success both before and after this, never really piecing together any sort on consistency until the 1970s, at which point they had the cricketing world at their feet.
Some of the best players in the history of the game have played for the West Indies, and the ICC Hall of Fame contains a huge number of them. These include Viv Richards, generally regarded to be one of, if not the greatest batsman to ever grace the sport. Known as the “Master Blaster”, Richards made his debut in 1974 against India, and over the course of his career he won many accolades and helped his national team to some huge successes. It also includes Brian Lara, a phenomenal batsman whose popularity spread beyond the game of cricket. Lara played throughout the 90s and early 00s and was known as “The Prince”. He was even approached by Codemasters to create a cricket game as part of a legends of sport series, one that included a rugby game starring Jonah Lomu and a tennis game starring Pete Sampras, two people that achieved as much success in their respective sports as Lara did in cricket.
Andy Roberts, Curtley Ambrose, Frank Worrell and Garfield Sobers are also big names in the West Indian game, and just like Viv Richards, they have all received a knighthood for their services to cricket. The West Indies team of the 1980s, and the team of the late 1970s and the early 1990s for that matter, was considered to be one of the best teams in the game’s history. This was an all-star cast of cricketing legends, and one that dominated the game throughout those 20 years or so.
As mentioned above, the West Indies team of the 1980s, and the one that played throughout the latter half of the 1970s and the first half of the 1990s, was practically unstoppable. This team was filled with the best of the best, and as well as dominating the ODI and Test match circuit, they also claimed some historic victories in the game’s biggest tournaments and events. They won the World Cup on two successive occasions, both in 1975 and in 1979, and they followed this by losing in the 1983 final.
In the 1970s the West Indies also had a dominant and memorable win during a tour in England, as well as a demolition of Pakistan in the following year. In the 1980s they lost their first series to New Zealand, with 2 of the 3 games drawn and 1 lost. This would prove to be their only defeat of the decade though, because in the years that followed they went unbeaten in Tests, with big wins against Australia, Pakistan, England and India, as well as a revenge series against New Zealand.
In the 1990s and the 00s the West Indies suffered a dip in form as many of their star players retired from the game. This showed in their tournament form, because in both the 1999 and the 2003 World Cup they failed to make it beyond the first round, and suffered the same humiliation in the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy and the 1998 ICC Knockout.