West Indies produced an inspired show in the Test series    Getty Images
West Indies produced an inspired show in the Test series Getty Images

We have been inconsistent for the last number of years. I’m here to do a job and I’m trying to do the best I possibly can, cried out a visibly frustrated Jason Holder, following a 133-run defeat to Pakistan at Abu Dhabi. Holder, the 36th Test captain of the West Indies in Test cricket and their 14th since Richie Richardson precisely the time when their downfall began in Test cricket is now latest in the line to try out his luck. In the last 19 years, West Indies have tried out as many as 14 captains, and none of them have been able to stem the rot; 4 of them did not even win a Test. COMPLETE CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs West Indies, 3rd Test at Sharjah

West Indies have only plummeted and the criticism has grown harsher, with none sparing a thought ever for the young men who were handed out monumental tasks, irrespective of whether they were ready or not. Not demeaning anything which the current West Indies captain has achieved so far at the international stage, but before the final Test against Pakistan, it looked as if all that Holder had done in Test cricket was scoring a century against England a year and half back at home, and a cameo in a documentary on the glory days of cricket in the Caribbean.

Since taking over in 2015, Holder had gone without a win in 11 Tests, in which his side could force draws only in 3 Tests. With as many as 8 defeats, it looked like West Indies were up for another gloomy run under a captain and cricketer who did not even appear as a bits and pieces player; it was tough to determine what was his true talent: batting or bowling. A burly man who does not usually works up enough pace to threaten the batsmen, Holder is once again a decent batsman without any consistency.

But then, Holder is now the only captain in last 26 years to have handed out Pakistan a defeat in an away Test. Holder now has a maiden five-wicket haul in a winning cause a feat which was last achieved by Darren Sammy not long ago. Among the rabble that various men and factors have turned the West Indies cricket into, a captain leading from the front is certainly a milestone. Holder s 5 for 30 is not just a regular five-for by a bowler, it is the story of a captain leading from the front, and by example.

West Indies poor fortunes on the field and their haplessness in dealing with matters off it no more attract pity; the cricket fraternity has grown tired of issues that have lingered on for limits beyond toleration. Meanwhile, West Indies keep travelling around the world and lose almost everything.

But no more. For those who may have forgotten, West Indies won three different World Cup tournaments inside the first half of 2016. T20 format is now their domain and West Indies rightly hold the world titles in both men and women categories. They have an exciting bunch of young cricketers who got the better of India in the Under-19 World Cup final in Bangladesh a win that set the tone.

Set the tone? For what? West Indies did win the two World T20s that followed, but their fortunes remained where they were in Test cricket when they began a four-Test home series against India. Expectedly West Indies were hammered without the tourists breaking a sweat. But then, something changed, and West Indies decided it was enough.

West Indies denied India a victory, fighting hard on the final day of the second Test at Kingston. One of the brightest talents on the scene, Roston Chase, led from the front and became the first cricketer in 50 years since Sir Garfield Sobers to scored a century and take 5 wickets in a Test. Chase s performance sparked some fire in the Caribbean side, to which India had to look deep within and douse it in the third Test at Gros Islet.

Maybe, Chase s inspirational show would have gone down in history as another young talent trying to make his mark. Maybe, it would have inspired the West Indies for a bit and they would have gone back to being mediocre as they have usually done. But no, West Indies were ready to take the leap. So what if they had a captain with limited powers and a team not blessed with once-in-a-generation talent which they used to.

Come to think of it, what would have happened had Yasir Shah not leaped to his left in follow-through and pulled off a stunning catch to dismiss Darren Bravo at Dubai? Bravo had already put West Indies on path to a historic win; just a final few paces were to be taken. What if the ball popped out of Yasir s hands and West Indies won? With that victory and the one at Sharjah in the final Test, West Indies would have clinched their first away series win in countless years. So near, yet so far.

Nevertheless, West Indies will return home from this tour of UAE as a proud bunch. Preventing Pakistan from making it 0-9 is not a massive achievement, since Misbah-ul-Haq s team sets new examples in being fallible.

But it is about West Indies.

It is about Kraigg Brathwaite, the first opener ever to remain unbeaten in a Test, who ends the three-Test affair with 328 runs, 2 fifties, 1 half-century and an average of 82.

It is about Bravo, the talent that everyone desires to witness flourishing, who gets 273 runs in 3 Tests in UAE with 1 century at 45. About Shane Dowrich, who got only 2 Tests but made them count with 139 runs at 46 with 1 half-century. Let Australia and England be considered among the best Test sides in the world, but their batsmen do not come up with such numbers in the UAE.

Spare a thought for Devendra Bishoo, whose freak spell nearly delivers an elusive away Test win for West Indies. With 18 wickets in 3 Tests with best figures of 8 for 49, Bishoo has given his career a big shot in the arm.

And it is also about the erratic Shannon Gabriel, who, despite his 4 years and 23 Tests does not land his foot right, but still gets the praise from the captain, and about Leon Johnson, the left-handed aggressive opener who made Indians toil for his wicket.

For long, West Indies have been the butt of jokes in cricketing circles. Not because they erred, but because they failed to win. Every single cricketing side has faltered, but the West Indies errors have been in the limelight. Hopefully, no more.

Holder spoke about giving this young bunch of West Indies cricketers the necessary time to control the damage, or even try. But the merciless world has only ridiculed them. Once again, Holder has demanded for time, but on this instance, he has delivered the message with some weight behind it.

And it is a pretty heavy one; West Indies never even came close to defeating India while playing at home. But playing away, in UAE, they came close to beating Pakistan twice the same Pakistan side which till recent was sitting pretty at the No. 1 spot in ICC Test Rankings.

In retrospect, it is good that West Indies did not upset India at home, since an away win will count greatly.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)