Where is the brilliance that once defined Windies?

(Jamaica Observer) It’s hard to fathom that given the history of West Indies cricket in the three-Test series, beginning in 1928, only Michael Holding has claimed more than 20 wickets.

In July last year against South Africa, Suliemann Benn snatched 15 wickets in the three-Test series and Fidel Edwards also took 15 wickets against the Australians in the May-June 2008 contests.

Against India in November-December 1994, Kenny Benjamin and captain Courtney Walsh snared 17 wickets apiece in that three-Test series.

Ian Bishop snapped up 16 wickets against Pakistan in the three Tests in November-December 1990, with Curtly Ambrose trailing with 14 wickets.

In the October-November 1986 series, Malcolm Marshall notched up 16 wickets against Pakistan, two fewer than Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir.

However, between December 1981 to January 1982, Holding grabbed 24 wickets in the three Tests against Australia, whose Bruce Yardley, a right-arm off-spinner, finished with 20 wickets.

The only West Indian to come as close to Jamaica’s Holding was Barbadian Keith Boyce, a right-arm fastbowler, who tore into England in the July-August 1973 series with 19 wickets.

In December 1966 to January 1967, Lance Gibbs, a right-arm off-break bowler, took 18 Indian wickets which ensured that West Indies won that three-Test series 2-0.

Will the West Indies have a bowler taking more than 20 wickets in the current series against India? There are no indications that that will happen over the next two Tests, though Devendra Bishoo, a right-arm leg-spinner with seven wickets so far, seems to have the best opportunity of getting there.

In terms of the batting, just five West Indians have hit more than 400 runs in a three-Test series, with only Brian Lara repeating the feat.

Seymour Nurse was the first West Indian to score 400-plus runs in this three Tests performance criteria. Powerfully built, Nurse still holds the record of a man playing his last Test match with a flourish, two years after being named Widsen Cricketer of the Year.

In the February-March 1969 series against New Zealand, Nurse struck 258, the highest score by a batsman in his last Test, for an aggregate 558 runs at an average of 111.60 runs.

Desmond Haynes totalled 402 runs against Pakistan in April-May 1993 Test series, which included two centuries and a half-century. Of note was Haynes’ 143 not out, the third and final time the West Indies opener was carrying his bat through the innings.

Jimmy Adams cracked two unbeaten centuries (125 and 174) in the November-December 1994 series, to end with 520 runs against India.

Lara was brutal against the Sri Lankans in the November 2001 series and his three centuries (178, 221, and 130) torpedoed him to an aggregate 668 runs at an average of 114.67.

Only England’s Graham Gooch has scored more runs than Lara in a three-Test series. The England opening bat scored three consecutive centuries against India, starting with a triple century (333), following that up with 123 and then 116. Batting in all six innings, he finished with an aggregate 752, to end with an average 125.33.

In November 2006, Lara accumulated 448 runs for West Indies playing in Pakistan, which included a double century (216) and a second innings 122 in the first Test on November 11 at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the last West Indian to score more than 400 runs in a three-Test series which he accomplished against none other than the Australians in the May-June 2008 series. The Guyanese was named Wisden Cricketer and ICC Player of the Year in 2008.

Now three years later, the West Indies is still waiting for a batsman to storm a three-Test series with 400-plus runs.

Since Chanderpaul, four Indians, two Sri Lankans, two South Africans and one Australian have starred with the bat in these series.

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