Testing battle to keep game alive in the Caribbean

Jimmy Adams' team is not just fighting to protect a long and proud record at The Oval over the next five days.

Jimmy Adams' team is not just fighting to protect a long and proud record at The Oval over the next five days.

Their goal in the final Test is the victory that would not only retain the Wisden Trophy that has been in the West Indies' secure possession since 1973, but also the reputation of West Indies' cricket and its appeal to the youth of the Caribbean.

These have been trying times. The last triumph in an overseas series was five years ago. Until the innings victory in the first Test at Edgbaston, there had been 10 successive defeats abroad, 3-0 in Pakistan in 1997, 5-0 in South Africa a year later and 2-0 in New Zealand last December.

Long gone are the days of the celebrated "blackwashes" and the glory of success wherever they happened to play. The recent record and the stunning collapses at Lord's and Headingley have left a passionate public disillusioned. As England well knows, the young - and the sponsors - want only to be identified with success.

The majority of this team was not born when England last won a series over the West Indies 31 years ago. A reversal now would be a shattering psychological blow, as much for them as for their contemporaries at home.

The influence of American sport through the omnipresent satellite television has been greatlyexaggerated as a reason forthe sharp decline in new cricket talent. But there are other distractions that have caught the imagination of the young West Indian, forwhom cricket would have been the first, if not sole, choice some 20 or 30 years ago.

Now football and track and field, the traditional sports on school curricula, have been joined by basketball - with its aggressively marketed superstars like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal - swimming, volleyball, hockey and others to entice away the budding Viv Richards and Michael Holdings.

Jamaica became the first cricket-playing West Indian country to reach football's World Cup finals in France in 1998, galvanising the country and, indeed, the Caribbean behind them. They and Trinidad and Tobago are again in the hunt for qualification this time and Barbados, as much a nonentity in world football as they are renowned in cricket, beat Costa Rica in a qualifying match last month.

Dwight Yorke and the sprinter Ato Boldon now attract more column inches in the Trinidad and Tobago press than their famous cricketing countryman, Brian Lara. Obadele Thompson, like Boldon, a contender for a sprint medal in the Sydney Olympics, is headline news in Barbados at a time when the island that produced Sobers, the Three Ws, Hall, Hunte, Marshall, Garner, Greenidge, Haynes and a host of other cricket greats, is short of players of renown.

Victory at The Oval would not mask the many problems that continue to affect West Indies' cricket, but it would allow a disappointing tour to end positively. The consequences of defeat would be depressing.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on