This really should have been a Christmas wishlist article, but Santa encountered a few problems delivering everything to me in time. No worries, though. The imminent dawn of a hope-filled, sports-filled new year is as good a time as any for a fanatic like me to draft a sporting wishlist. So, here goes…
1. I wish that the West Indies win the 2015 World Cup
Two titles and a somewhat disappointing runner-up finish in the first three World Cup tournaments clearly marked the all-conquering West Indies side of the late 70s and early 80s out as the undisputed kings of cricket. Since then, however, the men from the Caribbean have struggled mightily at the game’s premier global showcase. Think no titles, just one semifinal appearance, and a shocking loss to lowly Kenya over the ensuing seven tournaments. (The devilish medium pace of Rajab Ali and the ‘Muralitharanesque’ off-spin of Maurice Odumbe still haunt my nightmares.)
With fortunes flagging on the field, things have predictably soured off it as well. At the rate the regional game is declining, it mightn’t be far from its deathbed by the time the 2015 tournament starts on February 8 in Adelaide. An improbable victory at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 wouldn’t miraculously fix all that currently ails West Indies cricket. A panacea of that strength just hasn’t been developed yet. It would, however, bring some much-needed joy to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of long-suffering regional fans.
2. I wish that Tiger Woods finally wins another major
Tiger Woods’ major drought has been scrutinised, analysed, and dissected as often as just about any issue within the sporting realm over the last six years. Any hope of this major-less streak belatedly ending in 2014 was quickly blown away by the 14-time champion’s bothersome back, which disrupted his preparation for and participation in a number of tournaments – including The Masters – over the last 12 months.
As the injuries continue to pile up and good ol’ Father Time unrelentingly plods on, the odds on Woods breaking Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major mark just keep lengthening. Even if he doesn’t end up getting there, it would be good to see this once great champion hoist the Claret Jug, Wanamaker Trophy, or U.S. Open Trophy at least once more in 2015. Seeing him don another Green Jacket would be a sight for sore eyes as well.
3. I wish to see Yohan Blake back at his best
After the injury setbacks that “The Beast” has endured over the last few seasons, it might be a bit fanciful to expect him to get all the way back to his dizzying 2012 form in 2015. These are the kind of things that wishlists are made of though, right? Spot on! So, here’s wishing that Blake returns to reclaim his position as the second-best short sprinter in the world, as evidenced by his double runner-up finishes in the 100m and 200m at the 2012 London Olympic Games, during the upcoming season.
The early signs have been pretty good. If his background training phase continues without any significant setbacks, the improbable could just happen – to the chagrin of a certain American sprinter who dominated the short sprinting game in 2014:).
4. I wish that the Reggae Boyz perform creditably at the 2015 Copa América tournament
The latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking vividly illustrates just how tough a task Jamaica has on its hands when it makes its bow at the prestigious Copa América tournament on June 13, 2015. The Reggae Boyz have been drawn alongside two-time World Cup winners and 2014 runner-up Argentina, double world and defending Copa champions Uruguay, and Paraguay who, though presently ranked below them, have made it to four out of the last five World Cup tournaments.
Any expectation of a table-topping performance would be unrealistic. It might even be stretching it to expect the Boyz to progress as one of the two best third-place teams against this calibre of opposition. Creditable performances are what I’m wishing that Jamaica turns in. A solid showing there could provide the perfect fillip for a successful 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
5. I wish for another table-topping performance from Jamaica at World Youths
Seeing Jamaica emerge as the top squad, based on the quality of medals earned, at the 8th IAAF World Youth Championships was one of the most pleasant sporting surprises of 2013. This historic feat marked the first time that the island had topped the medal table at any global athletics championships – at any level. The Black, Green, and Gold’s unprecedented six first-place finishes (including a world youth best in the medley relay for boys), which was exactly half of our gold medal output from the previous seven editions, placed us comfortably ahead of perennial powerhouses like Kenya, the United States, and Ethiopia. Surely, this was a once in a lifetime occurence. Quite possibly. However, it can’t hurt to hope.
In Cali, I’ll be pinning my hopes of an improbable repeat performance on a new generation of youth starlets. Starlets who’ve been forged in the cauldron that is ISSA Boys & Girls Athletics Championships. Quite a few of them – including sprinters Jhevaughn Matherson and Tyreke Wilson – were among the top performers at the 2014 renewal of “Champs”. At this very, very early stage of the game, the all-round strength of the team that’s likely to represent Jamaica in Colombia doesn’t seem to be as formidable as that of the aggregation which donned the national colours in Donetsk. Hope, though, does spring eternal. There’s also a lot of time left for more potential world-beaters to step up and step out.
Here’s hoping that all your wishes for 2015 do come true.
Season’s greetings, folks!