Like most boys growing up in the Caribbean, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake dreamed about representing the West Indies on the cricket pitch.
Unfortunately for their generation, they were witnesses to a national cricket team in steep decline and as the Windies on-field performance faded, so did the dreams of Bolt and Blake pursing a future in the sport.
Instead, the pair of speedsters went on to become the two fastest men on the planet and usher Jamaica into world sprinting dominance.
Jamaica is now home to the current Olympic 100 metre sprint champion, the 2009 and 2011 World Champion and holders of the world record time from Asafa Powell’s 9.763 in June 2006 to Bolt’s 9.572 in August 2009.
The West Indies once possessed a similar dominance in the realm of world cricket, fuelled by a mixture of devastating fast bowling, a fearless batting order and continual turnover of elite players.
From 1980 to 1995 the Windies ruled the globe, unbeaten in 27 consecutive Test Match series under the legendary captaincy lineage of Clive Lloyd, Sir Viv Richards and Richie Richardson.
Since those glory days they’ve been free-falling to their now current state of irrelevance, they’re ranked eighth out of the nine recognized countries by the ICC in Test Matches.
The last time they won a Test was in November 2011 against Bangladesh, who are the ninth ranked Test Match nation (also the youngest).
There are many factors as to how and why the West Indies have fallen so sharply from grace.
First and foremost, rival nations steadily improved their junior development programs, while the West Indies not only stagnated but fell behind the times.
Junior athletes in the Caribbean are now more inclined to participate in alternative sports such as athletics, soccer and basketball.
At this point, it’s now time to entice their elite athletes back to cricket to help rejuvenate the profile of the sport in the region.
Once Bolt and Blake have battled for gold in the 100 metres at London, they’ll be free to return to their cricketing roots and head up the new and improved Windies fast bowling attack.
Standing at 6’5”, Bolt is a throwback to the long-line of towering West Indian fire-ballers like Croft, Holding, Garner, Walsh and Ambrose.
He offered us a glimpse of his abilities when he clean bowled the West Indies then captain and premier batsman Chris Gayle in a charity match in October 2009.
Blake shares the compact frame of iconic Barbadian all-rounder Malcolm Marshall, and evidently also shares the propensity to unleash a similar brand of hell on opposing batters.
In an outing for Kingston Cricket Club earlier this year he claimed four wickets for ten runs.
These unparalleled bipedalists can theoretically transport a cricket ball faster than anybody else in the world.
It’s time to set these lions loose on the oval, rekindle the Fire In Babylon and once again change the game.
19 Julio 2012