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Reason to believe

It was like the first lunar landing all over again. Everyone in the house wanted to stay up on Wednesday night to catch the highlights of West Indies' 10-run Champions Trophy victory over Australia.

Even those struggling with the symptoms of the latest flu virus sweeping the country (what's the nickname by the way-Duck-and-Run? Manningitis?) delayed applying more of the old Vicks VapoRub so that they could be alert enough to see the regional side upset the most consistent and efficient unit in contemporary international cricket.

Not that we are all aficionados of the game. Far from it, but as has been reinforced many times over for decades, the fluctuating fortunes of the Caribbean side are a matter of intense interest within the region, even for those who think that Brett Lee and googly are blood relatives.

So chalk up one for "The Lost Boys". As in their last major tournament on the Indian subcontinent ten years earlier, a tense victory over Australia has followed on the heels of a crushing disappointment. Still, it is asking for serious emotional distress to start piling too much expectation onto the back of that battling effort in Mumbai, given that this team redefines the term "wildly inconsistent".

In fact, the best thing is to just savour the experience and hope that the momentum can be sustained in the seven days before the next match against India in Ahmedabad. By then, Brian Lara's back spasms should have eased, Shivnarine Chanderpaul would have gotten over the latest stomach bug to hit the side, and Corey Collymore ought to be back in harness after returning to Barbados to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

It is anybody's guess as to who will have to make way for the senior returnees, but two who must be assured of their places for some time to come, barring injury, are Runako Morton and Jerome Taylor.

Once again Morton delivered impressively when called upon in yet another makeshift position. It certainly helped to have the assured Lara as mentor and partner in the rebuilding effort from 63 for four, but the manner in which Morton has resurrected what seemed a blighted career is as striking a lesson as can be identified on how any young person can turn his or her life around with the right attitude, guidance and opportunities for redemption.

He finished high and dry, ten runs short of a third one-day international century this year, although the disappointment of missing out on that milestone, especially against the Aussies, would have long been forgotten amid the celebrations that followed the victory.

Clearly the Man of the Match adjudicator had not overlooked him, even if the temptation must have been very great to go with the flow and nominate hat-trick hero Taylor for the award.

The lithe Taylor continues to make his mark with pace and accuracy - two potent weapons - especially in the tense final overs of an ODI, as Mike Hussey, Lee and Brad Hogg discovered off consecutive deliveries. As the first West Indian to claim a hat-trick in one-day internationals - in itself a surprising statistic given the plethora of quality bowlers who have represented the region in the past three decades - Taylor has assured himself of an unchallenged place in Caribbean cricket history.

Now, like so many of his team-mates, he must resist the temptation to rest on those laurels and appreciate that the job gets even harder in seeking to maintain or possibly exceed those standards if he really wants to be a part of the long-term turnaround in the side's fortunes.

But maybe the most significant aspect of Wednesday's victory was the confirmation, once and for all, that Ramnaresh Sarwan - for all of his apparent reluctance to take on the responsibility and generally casual attitude - has the makings of a good captain. Sarwan not only marshaled his troops and brought the changes effectively, but also regularly consulting with team-mates on tactics. After leading Guyana to victory in the Stanford 20/20 earlier this year, his performance makes it crystal clear that he is the man for the full-time job, possibly after the World Cup when Lara will be signing off on his ODI career. Lara is likely to remain in the Test squad as senior statesman and mentor, not to mention star batsman still after all these years.

Again, it bears repeating that the defeat of Australia in the cauldron of a prestigious competition, as hugely encouraging as it is, may yet prove to be just another crest in the endlessly turbulent sea of West Indies cricket.

Next Thursday's clash with India will be a much clearer indicator of whether they have taken their game up to another level in terms of consistency and commitment, and if, as the years go by, we will look back on the win as a brief, bright spark in the vast emptiness of contemporary Caribbean cricketing misery or a giant step towards reclaiming a glorious legacy.

Houston, we want to believe.