Bridgetown, Guyana: We've been starved of Test cricket for nearly four months now. Ever since Pakistan drew in Wellington, to win the series against New Zealand, there's been a glut of limited-over matches - the World Cup, Australia in Bangladesh, the IPL and Pakistan in the West Indies. Re-adjusting attention spans to the pace of five-day cricket might take a while, for both players and us. It is in Guyana, at the other end of the cricket universe from where they last played, that Pakistan resume the Test calendar, in pursuit of a success they've never achieved before.
Pakistan have never won a Test series in the West Indies. They've beaten them at home and at neutral venues (UAE in 2001-02), but in six trips to the Caribbean, Pakistan have lost four series and drawn two. The most memorable of those battles was in 1987-88, when Imran Khan's team held its own against the champion side Viv Richards inherited from Clive Lloyd in three monumental Tests. One-all it finished. The last two were thrillers. Unfortunately, Pakistan and West Indies have regressed since that watershed tour, and it would be fanciful to expect Misbah-ul-Haq and Darren Sammy's teams to produce entertainment of comparable quality.
Whether Pakistan or West Indies are in greater disorder could make for protracted debate. About ten months ago, it would have been Pakistan. Their captain (Shahid Afridi) jumped ship and retired from Tests, while his successor (Salman Butt) and their two best fast bowlers (Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer) were embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal and then banned by the ICC. From the cold the selectors recalled Misbah and then made him captain. His chalice, however, hasn't been poisoned and Pakistan have been uncontroversial under his leadership. They also drew against South Africa and won in New Zealand. Pakistan, incredibly, appear well settled.