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What a difference a few months can make

What a difference a few months can make.
No one will boast that West Indies cricket is back at the top but the recently concluded Cable & Wireless 2000 Series definitely gives West Indies cricket supporters many reasons to smile.
Gone are the frowns and groans that greeted our team upon its return from a disastrous Christmas tour to New Zealand and we are all now excited about the prospects for success in England this summer.
A number of factors have triggered this resurgence in the Caribbean's belief that its cricketers are, as captain Jimmy Adams put it, 'good enough to get the job done'.
First, as many have mentioned, there has been a noticeable lift in team spirit and togetherness.
Both on and off the field, the players seem closer and the adage 'where there is unity, there is strength' is clearly evident.
This, plus a renewed zeal and determination to give of their best and to fight to the end, has resulted in Test series victories over Zimbabwe (2-0) and then Pakistan (1-0) for the West Indies.
There was also a highly creditable performance in the region's first-ever triangular One-Day International series and the 'A' Team was not to be outdone, beating Pakistan in their encounter at Kensington Oval.
In all the celebrations there cannot be a happier man than Adams himself. He has answered the critics by deeds rather than words, and in his first tour of duty at the helm has set an exemplary standard.
Though not one prone to exuberance, two rare displays of emotion by him ' upon reaching a century against Zimbabwe in Jamaica and after scoring the winning run against Pakistan in Antigua ' were telling.
The pressure on him, both as a leader and as batsman who has struggled of late, has been tremendous but he has handled it admirably ' never complaining, instead always striving for better.
If Adams has exemplified the resolve and experience of older players then Wavell Hinds ' who was promoted to the crucial No. 3 position ' has typified the youthful confidence and will to excel of the young brigade of West Indian cricketers.
In only his second Test series, the 23-year-old Jamaican set tongues wagging with an aggressive yet correct approach to countering the much-vaunted Pakistani bowling attack which boasts Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq, Abdur Razzaq and Mushtaq Ahmed.
For his efforts, the left-hander walked away with a new Rover car and US$1 200 as Man-Of-The-Series.
These tangible desserts plus the acclaim of fans and commentators alike are certainly enough to spur Hinds on to greater glory as he embarks upon a testing three-and-a-half months in England.
'Now I can see the returns, maintaining the hard work, sticking to the basics and trying to do them more often than not.
'It was good to be batting at No. 3 for the West Indies, which is a premier position. It was a tough task at times but you just have to stick in there when the going gets tough. It's a challenge and I am up to it,' said the rising star who scored 340 runs at an average of 68 including his maiden Test century of 165 in Barbados.
He had also notched his first-ever One-Day hundred earlier in the season against Zimbabwe.
Hinds exhibited the kind of maturity and responsibility that has not been glimpsed in many young players for some time. Other recent arrivals to the West Indies ranks, including Reon King and Ramnaresh Sarwan, have also shown such characteristics.
This is indeed heartening at a time when we are preparing to bid goodbye to some of our stalwarts. If we can harness the talent of a few more youngsters like Hinds, King and company then the fears about the future of our cricket could well be put to rest.