West Indies' date with destiny
Cricket's traditionalists will continue to groan and grumble, but the just-ended three-match twenty20 (T20) series between West Indies and England in Barbados provided yet more evidence that the game's shortest version has an irresistible pull.
It's full of spills and thrills and it's over and done with in three-and-a-half hours or less. Such is today's fast-moving world.
The series, which the West Indies won 2-1 following a 2-1 loss in the 50-over version in Antigua, was, of course, only preparation for the real thing. That's the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh starting next week.
Two weeks ago, after a sluggish performance against Ireland on a painfully slow Sabina Park pitch, we had reason to suggest in this space that West Indies, the defending world T20 champions, looked anything but champions.
We are pleased to be able to revise that judgement. Against England, on good cricket pitches at Kensington Oval in Barbados, the West Indies were by no means perfect but there was much to cheer about.
It's obvious that fielding must improve to a more consistent level ahead of the tournament in Bangladesh. Also, there needs to be more urgency in running between wickets. Indeed, had West Indian batsmen been more alert and urgent in running quick singles and converting ones into twos, narrow defeat in the final T20 game against England could easily have been turned to victory.
The absence of the powerful Trinidadian Mr Kieron Pollard due to injury is a significant loss. However, the Caribbean team will be buoyed by the return to fitness of the iconic Mr Chris Gayle and the relatively good batting form he showed against England.
The performance of West Indian bowlers on traditionally slow Bangladeshi pitches could well prove to be the most crucial element. In fact, on the strength of what we have seen from spinners Messrs Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and the belatedly recalled left-arm seamer Mr Krishmar Santokie, the West Indies will be very hard to beat, once the batsmen do a reasonably good job.
We believe the selectors will be well advised to play all three together.
We wish the West Indies the very best as they set out to become the first to win back-to-back World T20 titles.