"Life is jokey but it's bloody serious. You got to plan. West Indies didn't do it." Ralph, an old caretaker of an inn, drawls as he lights up a cigarette. It's 11 pm and the small neighbourhood in Port of Spain is quiet. The glow from his cigarette lights up his grizzly beard. "We were too arrogant when we were winning and didn't plan for the future. Talent is all dried up now and we are watching the ego fights between the board and the players. It's all downhill. It's good to see India planning for the future by bringing in the younger players."
It's a puzzling series in many ways. The weaker team is ignoring its stars and testing its bench strength. The stronger team is being forced to test its bench strength while its stars choose to rest, some in fatigue, some following injury. The agenda is still pretty simple and straightforward: It's India's series to lose. They are the new world champions and will have to win this ODI series. Never mind that they are missing a couple of big players - a champion team can't have any excuses.
West Indies ran out of excuses for their decline a long time ago and are now scraping the bottom of the barrel of hope. It's a grim scenario. The evidence screamed out when the flight from London descended on Barbados. It was a breathtaking visual - a sparkling sea framing the houses like a jewel - but the question that immediately came to mind was, how on earth did such a tiny island produce a battery of world-class players? Now that same smallness offered another scary thought. How on earth will they find world-class players from such a small area? Trinidad is a much bigger place but big, of course, is relative.