Cricket: Narrow escape for West Indies' national pride

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The Independent Online
This was an absolutely vital victory for the West Indies.

At 124 for 5 in the midst of a familiar middle-order cave-in on the fourth afternoon, a heavy and humiliating disaster loomed. There had been enough of those of late, on and off the field, and the repercussions would have been dire.

In Pakistan, the manager, Clive Lloyd, complained about the general lack of pride and commitment as the West Indies folded, without a semblance of a fight, to three successive defeats, two by an innings, one by 10 wickets. At the same time the A-team was being crushed in South Africa and, more recently, the under-19s have gone under to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the Youth World Cup.

Then followed the shambles at Sabina Park when a cart track of a pitch led to the abandonment of the first Test.

The very fabric of West Indies cricket - the one endeavour that has given these little dots on the map international recognition for excellence - was under threat.

Significantly, at the same time, the sporting people of the Caribbean have been drawn to the success of the "Reggae Boyz" of Jamaica, the footballers who have stunned everyone by qualifying for the World Cup finals and who last weekend drew with mighty Brazil.

To go under to England, of all opponents, would have been another severe blow to the national pastime and passion.

It does not necessarily predicate an immediate turnaround in fortunes as there are still obvious deficiencies in the structure of the team, as there are in the general cricket itself. But the contrasting moods at the presentation function were revealing.

The West Indies have not had cause for celebration for a long time; England had started the tour in high and optimistic spirits and held the initiative over the first four days.

The home team will now turn up for the third Test at the same venue on Friday with renewed enthusiasm and confidence while England will find it difficult to so quickly recover from the several frustrations that contributed to their demise.