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.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone