Port of Spain, June 1: As India gets set to initiate its tour of the West Indies later this week, the team from the subcontinent is likely to find a home away from home. That's because the conditions at most of the grounds across the Caribbean have morphed into spitting images of the flat tracks and dust bowls of India.
It was not the case in the 1990s so much, when the pitches were truer and supported bounce and seam. Those were the days when the deadly new-ball duo of Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh held sway. But it seems that the transformation of the wickets from 'electric' to virtually dead has coincided with a decline of quality fast bowlers for the Windies.
The likes of today's stock of Andre Russell, captain Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul, try as much as they do, will always remain in the shadow of the Windies' past masters. The only saving grace has been that the Windies have hit upon some capable spinners, most notably leg-break Devendra Bishoo who is carving quite a niche for himself. In fact, as the recent series against Pakistan showed, spinners from both sides proved the only deterrent to the surfeit of runs.
However, in general, batting records have far outstripped bowling feats in this neck of the woods. How else would Windies legend Brian Lara have struck up his highest-scored Test record of 375 and retained the distinction with a 400 not out? These achievements came on Antigua's St John's belter of a strip, a venue which leads the list of batting havens in the archipelago.
Port of Spain, where India will be playing some of its one-dayers against the hosts, presents a similar pitch where runs are likely to flow effortlessly. One wonders if the wilting of strips in the Caribbean can be attributed to poor organisation and dwindling capital for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB)? Maybe a good show from the Windies, which has been long overdue at home, will help reverse the WICB's flagging fortunes and fill-up their coffers...