The first rebel flight that took off from the tarmac of Barbados airport in 1983 turned 17 men into instant demons - to the point that some of them could never return back to their homes. If some did, they had to withstand to the wrath of the Bajans. It is said that, the then rebel side of WI could have beaten any test XI. The team boasted of brilliant players such as Kallicharan, L Rowe, Collis King, Colin Croft, Franklyn Stephenson, Ezra Moseley and others. Franklyn Stephenson is regarded as the best all-rounder who never played a test match. Ezra Moseley even by West Indian standards was fiercely quick. The 17 villains of their times were publicly scorned by everyone in Caribbean. Some called them traitors, some money leeches. Clive Lloyd denounced them too. West Indian board banned them for life, even when the plane was mid-air, meandering over Pacific ocean, whose waters had engulfed thousands of their ancestors during slave trade, when the Afrikaans were shipped to the sugarcane fields of the Caribbean, in barbaric conditions by their imperialistic masters.
Cricket however, had a different flavor to add in that summer of the southern hemisphere. WI not only won the test series and the one-days, but they won the hearts of South-African public. The blacks saw in them heroes. The whites were in awe. Cricket transcended color. The test matches saw record attendances. Their delightful outlook to cricket and natural flair caught the imagination of young South-Africans, who were under the cloud of apartheid.
This phase in their history is less talked about. But technically it was the most significant development of those times. And remains till now.
P.S: This post was written on 7th October 2012, the day WI won T20 World Cup.