India's three week, three Test series against the West Indies in the Caribbean is underway, heralded as it has been by who is not playing. Notably for the home side, Chris Gayle's mouth and ego continue to refuse to find a compromise with an administration which is, itself, well short of exemplary. Gayle has made it clear he thinks little of Test cricket, saying several times in both England and the West Indies that he'd rather play Twenty20. His dedication to the Test cricket cause was obvious on the last tour to Australia and frankly, if he chooses this lofty line of self over team mates, let him swing of to India and become a legend in his own lunchbox.
None of which fixes the problems with West Indian cricket which has suffered from maladministration and a complete lack of regard for their players. Proper pay for a days works is just the starting point. Apparently they are not aware of what happens when you offer peanuts?
Dwayne Bravo is also out of this first Test, having still not recovered after months of recuperation after his last stint in India. It would appear he is trying to keep his options open between officialdom and his mate Gayle.
Meanwhile, the Indians have arrived to play Test cricket without Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Zaheer or Sreesanth, all apparently saving themselves for England. Its an overconfidence trick which may backfire.
India won the toss and batted and more than half the side where out before they reached their first hundred runs. Before the series, much was being made of the increasingly experienced and potent West Indian new ball attack of Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards and although Rampaul made early inroads having both openers gone by 30, it was the little legspinner Davendra Bishoo who ripped the heart out of the batting. On a fast, bouncy track made especially for quicks, he removed Dravid, Laxman and Dhoni either side of lunch in just four overs. Without doubt, he bowled some rubbish later but soon after lunch, the world No 1 India were 6-85.
Had it not been for Harbhajan and Raina, it would have been a complete disaster. The pair added 146 for the 7th wicket and it was Bishoo who was again involved in breaking the partnership. Edwards bounced Harbhajan who swung lustily into the hook shot, skied it and Bishoo took a stunning running catch. Edwards and Rampaul cleaned out the tail. Normally, 246 would not be enough but this isn't a good West Indies batting line up. It certainly has talent but little confidence. By stumps, Ishant Sharma had pulled a wicket back for India as the West Indies struggled to get the ball off the square but Adrian Barath, one of the best to surface for the West Indies in the last ten years, was looking assured. It was impressive that Ramnaresh Sarwan came to the wicket in his normal spot at three, despite the proximity to stumps and the hostility of the bowling. With Chanderpaul and Nash to follow, there is always hope but the prospect of Harabhajan and Mishra, the bowlers with which India have entrusted victory in the series, doesn't allow that hope to rise too high.
It should be a fascinating series.