is the word that is mostly bandied about whenever the West
Indies cricket team is being discussed. It is a quality
that has escaped the regional lads following the era of
dominance when the likes of Greenidge, Haynes, Richards,
Lloyd, Holding and Marshallto name a fewran
riot in the cricketing world.
Even the presence of the worlds most successful batsman,
Brian Lara, failed to provide the kind of consistency regional
fans were looking for when the superbly-gifted Trinidadian
was at his prime and setting the batting stage on fire.
It is a word that is certain to surface once more as the
West Indies and old enemy Australia square off in a three-Test
series starting tomorrow in Jamaica.
A series draw against Sri Lanka at home and a first-ever
Test victory on South Africa soil, although the series was
lost, lend credence to the unpredictability of this current
group of players.
The old enemy, wearing the crown of world champion, arrived
in the Caribbean without some of its tried and tested playerssome
of the games great names who combined to elevate Australia
to the cricket throne. There is none of the wily Shane Warne,
the crafty Glen McGrath and of course the plunder of Adam
Instead, several new faces, no doubt anxious to create impressions
here in the Caribbean, will offer some vulnerability to
a West Indies team that the optimists say is all set to
There is no Chris Gayle in the first Test. The laid-back
Jamaican has been credited with bringing a new spirit and
sense of unity to the West Indies team. It is under his
leadership that the victories against South Africa and Sri
Lankathe two most recent wins in Test cricket by the
regional teamhave been achieved.
Instead, Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was appointed as captain
last year, is back at the helm as Gayle rests a leg injury
that has plagued him for most of the season. Sarwan, the
lynchpin of the teams batting against Sri Lanka, will
lead a team that is also minus Marlon Samuels. It is an
inexperienced batting line-up in which only Sarwan, Shivnarine
Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo have had significant Test experience.
The bowlersTaylor, Edwards and Powell, none of whom
averages under 30 in Test cricketare also terribly
inconsistent but on their best day, with the help of Bravo,
seem capable of dismissing any team. Whether they have the
ability to do it twice against the Aussies is left to be
While it may be argued that the visitors on paper are not
the world-beaters of yesteryear, the presence of cricketers
of the calibre of captain Ricky Ponting, Mathew Hayden and
Mike Hussey gives some class to their batting, while the
youthful Phil Jacques and new wicketkeeper Hadden would
be keen on leaving the West Indies with enhanced reputations.
In the bowling department are the lethal Brett Lee, the
tall and intimidating Mitchum Clarke, and leg spinner Stuart
MacGill, who replaces Warne.
Those who believe that this series will be a true test for
the regional team to determine just how far it is from turning
the corner are well within their rights to think that way.
We expect the Australians to be tough and competitive and
if the West Indies can hold its own, regional fans would
feel that the promise that this team has shown is in the
process of being fulfilled.