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World Twenty20 shows that talent is still visible in West Indies cricket

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The West Indies have made it into the World Cup 20/20 final with a thrilling win over India in the semi-final. It was another success in this tournament against a nation in the upper echelons of all formats, and added to their success against Sri Lanka, England and South Africa in their group games.

To some nations like Australia, they would treat these successes like any other victory and move onto the next contest. But for the Windies, who have suffered through a incredibly tough period in their cricket, there is a sense of joy from the wins, albeit with a bittersweet feeling attached.

While the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell are welcome additions to the T20 squad, the sad reality is that they are too rarely seen in the maroon colours. This is due to constant pay disputes with the WICB which have seen them effectively banished from the test side and sporadically seen in the one-day format. There was even some doubt they would be playing in this tournament, such is the animosity between the parties.

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This has seen the quartet along with Kieron Pollard, become fixtures of the T20 circuit - playing in numerous countries and seen by some as cricketing mercenaries more interested in collecting money than playing for their nation. However for the players themselves, that is not the case.

"It's painful to see this is the stage our cricket has reached given at one point in time we were the best team in the world," Bravo said late last year, while also categorically confirming: "I'm not shutting down any opportunities to represent West Indies."

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Gayle has spoken along the same lines in the past, but sadly it seems the impasse between the two parties seems to be too large to change, in the short term at least. The selectors have signalled they are going down the youth route in the test and one-day format.

While this is an admirable policy, the truth is a lot of players have been thrown in the deep end when they are not ready for international cricket, leading to some thumping defeats along the way. The Windies' decline has been reflected in their rankings in Test and One-Day Cricket, where they are among the lowest ranked nations. In fact in the 50-over format, their stock has fallen so much, they have failed to qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy.

However, to say there is no up and coming talent in the West Indies would be wrong. They won their first Under 19's World Cup in February, which was hailed by many current players as a fine achievement and a sign that this young group of players can lead the way for years to come. The feel-good factor of this current tournament stretches through to the West Indies female cricketers who have also done exceptionally well, reaching the final to face Australia.

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The Windies have many of the same players in this current squad who won the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka in 2012. In the final they come up against England who they defeated comfortably in their first game of the tournament, thanks mostly to a superb Chris Gayle century.

It has become clear that they fear no one in this format, however if they do win the tournament, it will be interesting to note what it will truly mean for supporters in the Caribbean.

It will be fantastic if the WICB can reach out an olive branch to stop this nonsense, so we can see the best players play for the West Indies in all formats once again. For many people, that will be the moment that victory is achieved and cricket in the Caribbean can start a new era.

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Topics:
T20 World Cup
The Ashes
Chris Gayle
Cricket
England cricket
West Indies cricket
India cricket

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