Laurie Foster | We must not drop this catch
The West Indies have won a Test match at home against Sri Lanka, whipping them by a 226-run margin. The victory is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the team's fortunes, presumably because it has come at a time when any triumph can be seen in that light. Having said that, a question has to be asked. With so many predicting the demise of the longer format of the game, how important or relevant will a West Indies be, even if there is drastic upward mobility?
The current West Indies-Sri Lanka series is of a three-match duration, with the final encounter to be played in Barbados as a day/night affair. That is said to be the saviour of the Test game as it allows longer playing time to complete the match. It also lessens the downtime from work that some patrons struggle to afford.
Whereas the adopted time slot could make a difference in the popularity and acceptance of Test cricket, it is not, left on its own, likely to see any improvement in the West Indies performance. A lot more needs to be done.
Since its inception, the successes enjoyed by the islands' cricket have been built on batsmen of the swashbuckling-stroke playing type and fearsome fast bowlers. Until there can be a return to those days, any significant upgrade in performances is highly unlikely.
The reintroduction of Sandals Resorts International as a sponsor is a step in the right direction as it will feature wider exposure of the talent that surfaces. Many are the stories of supremely gifted young players who appear on the horizon of the game but are denied the nurturing that is required to take them to the highest level.
This move by the group should be made to include sponsorship of television coverage of the game throughout the region. Viewing should not be restricted to cable subscribers, as it is now, as this prevents youngsters from being exposed to the game at the world-class level.
Cricket West Indies needs to jump on this latest initiative voiced by hospitality mogul Butch Stewart himself and milk it to its full potential. Sandals has been around West Indies cricket before, notably with support starting with the 1995 tour to England. There was no mention of this type of input back then, but thankfully, it is a part of the current message.
In recent times, announcements of this nature came from Stewart's son, Adam. The fact that this is from the big boss should be viewed as significant and, as such, should not be underestimated. It could prove a lifeline thrown to the drowning team as the Stewarts are not known to miss out on what seem to be real opportunities to make an indelible mark on a project that has been brought under its jurisdiction.
It could be the last chance for a resurgence for West Indies Test cricket. Let Cricket West Indies be aware.
We must not drop this catch.