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A new hero or two is critical to the immediate future and success of West Indian red ball cricket, says KEN PIESSE. <p>

There has always been something magnetic and magical about West Indian cricket.<p>

When Bobby Simpson’s Australians toured the Caribbean in 1965, my parents moved my bed into the lounge room so I could listen to the Test descriptions deep into the night on our big Healing radiogram.<p> The names of the time still are vivid, not only the champions like Frank Worrell (pictured),  Sobers, Hall and Griffith, but some of the lesser lights, White, Brancker and Collymore.
So wide would Griffith bowl on the return crease that the small sightscreens rarely allowed the batsmen to pick up the ball early. Even Brian Booth said that Charlie chucked his faster one.
When Simpson and Bill Lawry conquered Hall and Griffith and shared a near 400-run opening stand at Barbados, it was a case for national celebration; at least it was in our house.
I got to meet Big Wes several times. He played a season of Sydney grade cricket in the mid-’60s and at the time had an even bigger profile than Sobie.
When he signed an autograph for me at the MCG after practice pre-match in 1968, I’d never seen anyone as black. He’d been pivotal in the very first tied Test and was a hero to so many.
Back then the Windies won against just about everyone. They were chockfull of stars and the game was better for it. The South Africans were also building; back then India and Pakistan rarely challenged, especially away from their own low and slow wickets.
Fifty years later, cricket’s brand has changed forever. The Indian Premier League is the most lucrative and followed of all and some of the world’s elite favor it over everything else, even Tests.
The best young cricketers in the West Indies are not the only ones to have had their heads turned by the unprecedented riches on offer.
The cricketers from the Caribbean are just as talented, but few share the tunnel-visioned commitment of current Test captain Kraigg Braithwaite and one or two of his team.
Their performances at the elite level have nose-dived. And once again this summer, only two Tests have been allocated.
Like all Aussies, I’d love to see a competitive Windies with one or two stars standing up to the might of Cummins and co. just as Kanhai, Sobers, Lloyd, Richards, Lara and Chanderpaul have done in the past.
Unhappily it’s unlikely to happen given the Windies’ chequered recent record.
They were thrashed by the Indians in the opening Test in Roseau in mid-July before being saved by rain at Port-of-Spain. As always they were far more comfortable and competitive at limited-overs level.
Last summer in Australia they were beaten by almost 600 runs across two Tests, at Perth Stadium and the Adelaide Oval.
How we wish that two or three younger ones can emerge and bat with the exuberance and bowl with the hostility of some of the Calpysos from the not-to-distant past.
We’d all love that.

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