Saturday, May 13, 2006

Touch down in the Windies

Gawd, I can't stand it. If I read one more report from the West Indies where some local is quoted as saying "Maaan", I'm going to lose it. But anyway, here we go. The Indians are in Kingston, and Vaidyanathan starts his tour diary by committing that cardinal sin. I suppose, in some ways, it can't be helped, but it really does grate on me.

I wish the Indians all the best in trying to entertain themselves in Kingston. I didn't find it a particularly attractive place, what with the constant warnings about crime from the locals (which started on the flight from Miami to Kingston), and the menacing neighborhoods that are scattered all over the place. Sabina Park is not a particularly distinguished ground but the views of the Blue Mountains are spectacular, and the crowd inside is boisterous, raucous, friendly, and well-engaged in the cricket. Up in the George Headley Stand West, a little smoking section puffs away on giant joints, while the cops stay 20 rows below. The pitch looks glassy (or so it did back in 1997), and the food and drink are excellent (lots of great curry is sold right inside the stands, and ice-cold Guiness, Heineken and Red Stripes can be had right at your seat). I had a great time with a bunch of very friendly Trinis (I think the 12-year-old rum being passed around had something to do with it).

Despite being the venue of some of India's greatest away wins, the West Indies have not been happy hunting grounds for the Indians. This new-look team has a chance to set it right, and they'll be desperately hoping that a) their batsmen discover some backbone against the Windies bowlers and b) their spinners exploit the supposed traditional weakness of the Windies' batsmen against that form of bowling. I'll miss the first test entirely due to being away on travels but the rest of the games will be watched very eagerly by yours truly.


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