England is certainly the favorite hunting venue for the West Indies.
They won the first two limited over World Cups in England, which were held in the years 1975 and 1979. They reached the finals in the 1983 World Cup, where they lost to India. Since then, the debacle of one of the most triumphing and dominating side started. West Indies lost their key players one after the other. They lost their aggression from which the teams all around the world used to be horrified. The "Black Storm" came to rest.
They struggled to make the finals in 1987 World Cup and were outclassed in the 1992 World Cup as well, where they were eliminated even before reaching the semi-finals. The West Indies was no longer in the run for top three teams at least. They were knocked out by South Africa in the quarter final of the 1996 World Cup, after their humiliating defeat against the minnows Kenya, who were playing their first International tournament, and were bundled out even before reaching a score of 100.
The West Indies struggled to get into the top two in any major tournament, until the 1998 mini World Cup in Bangladesh, but the team was defeated by clinical South Africa. Reaching the final of a big tournament after many years of dormancy was a refreshing breeze for many West Indians. Lack of consistency was the main reason of their first round exit in 1999 World Cup in England. Although they have reached the finals of all three previous World Cups in England, they could not repeat anything similar in 1999, which was a shame. In 2002, champions Trophy in Sri Lanka, South Africa knocked them out of the tournament after a last ball victory.
2003 World Cup in South Africa was not different. After winning the first match against their hosts, the West Indians continued their habit of being in-consistent and were eliminated in the first round, yet again. It was 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England which brought the smiles back in the camp of the West Indies and revived their lost glory of couple of decades ago. The West Indies, like in the inaugural mini World Cup, (then renamed as the Champions Trophy), were able to reach the final easily. They outclassed some of the big teams in the knock out stages to face the host England in the final. After restricting them to a below par total, they were struggling, but the unbeaten 67-run partnership for the last wicket between Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Brown recorded one of the most incredible turn-arounds in the history of cricket and helped the West Indies to lift a big tournament trophy after 25 years in the same country.
After a slow start in the 2006 Champions Trophy in India, the West Indies humiliated some of the top sides to make into the finals of this tournament yet again for the third out of four times, but Australians were too good for them this time. Hosting the 2007 World Cup, they couldn’t make a place in the final four. In the same year, they were knocked out by South Africa and Bangladesh in the inaugural world T20 in South Africa.
Again, after 30 years, they have a chance to win a major tournament in England, as they have unexpectedly made their way into the semi-finals. They did it five years ago as well here in England, but that was not the World Cup. They are yet to be the champions in any form of cricket in 30 years. The stage is set and it is a familiar one too, Can they repeat the history? The next few days will give us the answer.
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