FRIENDS: Jay (right) with West Indies batsman Sarwan
MY FIRST real memory of West Indian cricket was in 1975. I was just four-and-a-half years old and my dad had taken me to Lords to watch the inaugural World Cup final which the West Indies won.
I don’t remember too much about the cricket if I’m honest but I do vividly remember knocking two empty Heineken cans all the way from Lords to my gran’s house in Kilburn and probably annoying everyone I came into contact with at the same time!
One thing was for sure - a new West Indies fan had emerged.
The first 15 - 20 years were unbelievable; I only knew of the West Indies winning. The likes of Clive Lloyd, Sir Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall were all heroes of mine.
Then the painful years started to kick in. The cricket crown was certainly no longer being worn by the West Indies.
Individual brilliance from Brian Lara, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the odd remarkable victory, including the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy final against England at The Oval, have put a smile on my face but they were completely outnumbered by poor results and dismal performances.
Many West Indies fans gave up hope and the interest in our cricket dwindled.
Call me a romantic, call me a fool, but I am one West Indian supporter that is filled with hope and excitement about the forthcoming tour of the West Indies to the UK.
I am paying close attention to the West Indies - Australia series in the Caribbean, and I am witnessing passion, determination and pride in the way that the Windies are playing.
Many have questioned Darren Sammy’s placement as captain - me included - but the St Lucian-born skipper has shown a never-say-die attitude that seems to be transcending down to the other players. Kieran Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul and Darren Bravo are all names that have the ability to do well in the UK in the months of May and June.
GLORY: West Indies win the inaugural World Cup at Lord’s
There seems to be a revival happening within the West Indies squad at the moment and that alone gives me great encouragement.
I agree that a couple of one-day international series displays against an Australian side - that is certainly not at its strongest - does not mean all the repairs have been completed on the Windies but in my opinion it is a start and a good one at that.
Coach Ottis Gibson and his team have something to build on and I look forward to following them every step of the way and keeping you updated. I hope many of you will attend the matches and support the boys as our backing helps them a great deal.
I look forward to bumping into fellow members of the Maroon Platoon.