In the 1980s, the West Indies were the best side in the world, and perhaps the most feared side there has ever been. Since then, their fortunes have slipped, and after falling out of the top eight of the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings, they failed to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy, and their participation at the 2019 Cricket World Cup is also uncertain, with the side having to play at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe this March.
But in 2016, West Indies were given a rare reason to cheer. Or in fact, three reasons, as they won the ICC World Twenty20, the ICC Women’s World Twenty20, and the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup in the space of just a few months to give hope that the good old days of West Indian cricket might be on their way back.
“At that time it was very important for cricket in the West Indies, especially because in that time cricket in the West Indies was just going down,” said Kirstan Kallicharan, who is returning to the Under 19 Cricket World Cup stage as his team’s vice-captain, having played two games at that 2016 tournament.
“Nobody wanted to support the West Indies, especially in the Caribbean itself. From the senior men to the women in the T20 formats, to the Under 19s I think we brought a lot of joy to the Caribbean people. I learned a lot on that tour, about how I wanted to be at my best, and wanting the West Indies to be like they were in the past.”
Playing at that tournament taught Kallicharan a lot, and now, as one of the more experienced members of the squad, he’s ready to pass on what he’s learned.
“I was the youngest one in that Under 19 squad, so chatting to the older guys I learned a lot,” said Kallicharan.
“I also learned a lot from meeting new people from around the world and seeing how they play, not only on TV but live and getting to talk to them and learn from them. One main thing I learned was to stay humble. Now I try to share my experience, it helped me a lot then so I think I can help them a lot by talking to them, trying to bring them out of down days, trying to help them, uplift them spiritually and mentally can help them reach a long way.”
Now he and his side are looking back to that tournament to provide inspiration as they aim to defend their title.
“Watching the videos from that World Cup, watching the guys go out there, I can say it was a very good experience,” said Kallicharan. “For the guys on this team, I think that inspires them to want to do well for themselves and the West Indies. Most important is to enjoy it, but I think we can bring back the title again.”