Honouring a legend

Sir Garfield Sobers, the greatest cricketing son of Barbados, has aged gracefully. The legendary all-rounder has just returned from a trip to England but finds time to share his thoughts with emerging cricketers, notes S. Dinakar.

Barbados is among the flattest islands in the Caribbean. The pitch at the Kensington Oval is not flat though — it has pace and bounce.

Some of the younger batsmen in the Indian team are put through a searching test as Fidel Edwards gets the ball to climb. Virat Kohli, in particular, will not leave the Caribbean with happy memories.

The lively surface here, for most part, is among the reasons why this tiny island has produced menacing fast bowlers and gloriously attacking batsmen.

The batsmen comprehended that they needed to be decisive against the deliveries, the lifting deliveries. And their response was one of aggression — they were brutal hookers and pullers. That's how they played in the past.

The audience inside the conference hall is all ears. Sir Garfield Sobers, the chief guest, addresses a bunch of coaches, teachers and students ahead of a junior cricket competition.

Sobers, the greatest cricketing son of Barbados, has aged gracefully. The legendary all-rounder has just returned from a trip to England but finds time to share his thoughts with emerging cricketers.

He says in jest, “My eyes are not as good as they used to be, but I can still hit the golf ball.”

Sobers' great drive will be with him forever, even if his eyesight diminishes. Some old habits never die.

The schools from Barbados and Antigua honour the legend on the occasion. Sobers is gracious in his acceptance speech.

The cricket caravan travels to Dominica for the third Test. This charming country with a population of just 70,000 is different from most of the other islands in the Caribbean. There are a few beaches and it is eco-tourism that drives the economy of the country. This is a land of mountains, rivers, hot water springs and volcanoes.

The fascinating journey from the airport to the capital city of Roseau takes around two hours. The driver negotiates some sharp bends as the vehicle makes its way around the mountains. The view is fascinating.

Dominica eagerly awaits its first Test. There is a love for the game here and good knowledge too. And the people are among the friendliest you can find in the Caribbean.

The Windsor Park is dressed up for the occasion. The locals make their way to the stadium in brightest colours. Rain, however, threatens to spoil their party. But the Dominicans continue to sing and dance. The beating of the drums is rhythmic. And when play gets underway, the crowd is electric.

Kirk Edwards, the debutant who makes a spirit-lifting century in true Caribbean style, says it is the crowd here that drove him to the three-figure mark. “There is so much negativity in the Caribbean regarding cricket. So it was great to have the crowd backing you. The crowd lifted us all,” he says.

For the first time in the West Indies on this tour, we see the Mexican wave. For the Dominicans the Test is a celebration in itself.