Wishing Mr Denesh Ramdin well
West Indian cricket fans were only just digesting news that Mr Denesh Ramdin had been appointed captain of the regional team, replacing Mr Darren Sammy, when news came that the latter was retiring from Test cricket.
Following last year's disastrous West Indies tours of India and New Zealand, the appointment of a new captain was hardly surprising. Also, it had become more and more difficult to justify Mr Sammy's place in the side because of his inadequacies with bat and ball.
From the very beginning, when Mr Sammy was given the captain's job as a virtual last resort, replacing Mr Christopher Gayle, that question surrounding his ability to justify his place was the issue.
Strong-willed and enthusiastic to a fault, Mr Sammy tried his very best, but in Test cricket his runs and wickets just weren't enough. In the shorter versions of the game he has done much better, guiding West Indies to the Twenty/20 global title in 2012 and is globally respected as a standout player in that very lucrative format.
That the 30-year-old Mr Sammy has now decided to walk away from Test cricket, while sticking with the shorter formats, suggests he has decided that in the years remaining to him he needs to maximise earnings.
Mr Sammy remains the West Indies Twenty/20 captain, and we look forward to more dynamic contributions from him. It is to his credit that, as West Indies captain, in all formats, he helped his team to maintain focus on the field at a time when quarrels and contentiousness involving the West Indies Cricket Board and the players' union, WIPA, threatened the very fabric of the regional game.
For Mr Ramdin, the road ahead will also be treacherous. He is being asked to lead a weak West Indies team tasked, in the first instance, to best tough, rising New Zealand in their upcoming three-Test series in the Caribbean.
There are serious questions surrounding the West Indies batting. Iconic opener and former captain, Mr Christopher Gayle, at 34, appears to be past his best and is struggling with fitness. Also bothered by unfitness, Mr Marlon Samuels was so poor in India and New Zealand he seems unlikely to make the cut against New Zealand, and the up and coming Mr Darren Bravo had a poor regional first-class season.
Mr Ramdin will be reassured by the form of Mr Shivnarine Chanderpaul early in the English County season. At 39 years old, Mr Chanderpaul is clearly not ready to stop.
Mr Ramdin has said he intends to play "smart cricket". He will do well to begin with "smart" selection of bowlers to face New Zealand. This was an area some critics, including this newspaper, felt was inadequately handled by the regional cricket selectors last year.
Mr Ramdin will be fortified by his own recent form. Since returning to the WI team in 2012, after being dropped, he has been outstanding with bat and gloves.
Mr Ramdin has had extensive training as captain -- leading at every level and, in recent times, was deputy to Mr Sammy.
There have been downtimes, such as 2012 when, after scoring a Test century in England, he ill-advisedly taunted the legendary Sir Vivian Richards; and in the Champions Trophy in England last year when he claimed a catch that wasn't.
Hopefully he will have learnt from those errors. We wish Mr Ramdin well as he takes a most tricky and difficult road.