What a difference a couple of decades make.
From 1975 to the early 1990s, the West Indies were the most sought-after cricket team for the passion they exhibited on and off the field. Every stadium was packed to capacity to watch the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards and the terrifying pack of quickies.
The press and fans lined up to welcome those Calypso Kings with open arms, but the latest version of the West Indies that touched down in England a couple of days ago was instead greeted with a barrage of insulting bouncers.
Scyld Berry, the Daily Telegraph cricket columnist, dismissed the young tourists as "waifs and strays." He was particularly harsh on affable skipper Darren Sammy, saying he did not deserve a spot on the Test team.
"West Indies would have a fine pace attack if it consisted of Kemar Roach, as quick as anyone in the world today; Fidel Edwards, quick too if not economical; and Andre Russell, who has serious pace and all-round potential. But Sammy keeps Russell out of the Test side. He has stopped West Indies getting worse, and he stops them getting better."
Lawrence Booth of the Daily Mail was equally critical, describing the side as "purporting to represent the best West Indies has to offer."
Booth was referring to the top four West Indians missing from the lineup, who are playing in the Indian Premier League.
"Instead, we will have to make do with a watered-down approximation of the real thing. And that is a source of regret, not just for the Caribbean, but for everyone who cares about cricket."
Chris Gayle, the greatest one-day batsman in the world today, has patched up his differences with the West Indies board, and made himself available for all formats of the game during the current tour of England. Gayle last played for the West Indies in the World Cup in 2011 and he was then dropped. Gayle will join up with the team at the conclusion of the IPL season.
"It is great to hear that Chris is available again," said coach Chris Gibson, prior to the Windies' tour opener versus Sussex at Hove Saturday that was rained out. "I'm sure the selectors will pick him, because he is world-class. If he's made himself available for the one-day series, I can't see him not being selected."
Gayle was so keen on wearing the maroon outfit of the West Indies that he reneged on a deal with English club Somerset. Somerset, graciously, agreed not to sue ... Virender Sehwag believes his Delhi Daredevils could well win the IPL this year. The hard-hitting opening batsman has led with the front foot by scoring five consecutive half-centuries.
KIWIS CAP WAGNER
New Zealand wasted little time in selecting South African-born Neil Wagner for its tour of the West Indies after being given his clearance by the ICC. The paceman impressed the Kiwi selectors by topping the list of wicket-takers with 46 in the Plunkett Shield season ... Ross Taylor will lead the Kiwis in the two Twenty20 internationals, five ODIs and two Tests during the five-wicket tour ... Indian quickie S. Sreesanth will be out for five months after agreeing to have surgery on his toes. Sreesanth had originally opted for ayurvedic treatment but that did not work and meant he lost out on a lucrative contract with IPL's Rajasthan Royals ... Tom Sears, who worked wonders trying to right a listing Cricket Kenya ship as its CEO, has quit to take up a new post with Irish rugby club Connaght ... Here comes another Cowdrey. All-rounder Fabian Cowdrey has entered the record books by becoming the third generation of his family to represent English county Kent. The 19-year-old follows in the footsteps of his grandfather Colin, who captained England, and father Chris.
WHATMORE WANTS MORE
Pakistan's new coach Dav Whatmore only believes in working with winners and not strugglers. "I am all about winning," he was quoted as telling an Abu Dhabi newspaper. The former Australian Test player has an enviable record as a coach having guided Sri Lanka, his country of birth, to the World Cup and later masterminding Bangladesh's stunning win over India in 2007. Whatmore takes reins of a solid Pakistani outfit that's still riding high after whitewashing England, the No. 1 Test team, 4-0 recently ... Mohammad Asif, one of the three Pakistani bowlers sent to the slammer for their part in a fixing scam in 2011, is out after serving half of his 12-month sentence. But there will not be a quick return to the game for Asif as he has been banned for five years by the International Cricket Council.
NEW MP: 'CRICKET FIRST'
Sachin Tendulkar has assured his millions of fans that cricket remains his No. 1 priority after he accepted a seat in the Indian parliament. His nomination was a hot topic on television and radio and every columnist had a say. Most, of course, wanted to know how Tendulkar would manage juggling his career as an MP and his hectic international schedule. "I don't think I will stop playing cricket and go straight into politics. I will keep playing cricket. Cricket is my life and will always be." Reading between the lines one assumes he won't take his exalted place in the house for a couple of years.