Oh to be in St. Lucia!

St. Lucia is among the jewels of the West Indies. This is an island of mountains, rain forests and captivating beaches. By S. Dinakar.

The taxi eases onto the sunlit highway. Outside, the colours of the Caribbean waltz in harmony. There is a natural brightness to these parts that enhances the already spectacular view.

St. Lucia is among the jewels of the West Indies. This is an island of mountains, rain forests and captivating beaches.

The car winds through the curves up the hill from where the blue ocean down below appears even more beautiful and expansive. Clouds cast their shadow on the serene waters.

And the houses, delicately built yet strong, sprinkled on the hills, stare at you from all directions. This place has a distinct character.

Moments later, the vehicle zooms close to the sea again. Palm trees sway in the wind, the sun and the sand are inviting. Boats are ready for the journey at the busy dockyard. It is yet another day in St. Lucia.

This is a busy period in the calendar here. There is the jazz festival and then there is cricket.

Music is St. Lucia's soul and they say jazz flows through the blood of every islander here. Thousands sway to the rhythm of the jazz, in clubs, beaches and the streets.

St. Lucia is not among Caribbean's cricketing torch-bearers but the game is catching up. My cabbie proudly reveals that all-rounder Darren Sammy, a member of the West Indian squad, hails from the island.

ICC World Twenty20 is the flavour of the month. The cricketers are in town and the teams bring with them several followers.

Most prominent are fans of Indian origin who have flown in from the United States. They have reason to cheer too as India wins its early group matches, against minnow Afghanistan and the powerful South Africa.

The stadium bristles with energy and drumbeats fill the air. It's celebration of cricket.

The cricketing caravan soon moves to Barbados. The island, hugely popular with tourists, captures the spirit of the game in the Caribbean.

“Sir Gary (Garfield Sobers) largely plays golf these days. He doesn't really show up at all matches,” says the man at the hotel reception standing below a picture of the legend in faded but glorious whites.

Sobers, the greatest all-rounder to grace cricket, is Barbados' pride. Stories of his valour are a part the island's folklore. These are not the best of times for Barbados in the game though.

“There was a time when we had Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner (all greats) in the same team. Now, the cricketers are not coming through maan,” mulls the manager at a city restaurant.

There are other distractions for the young, athletic youngsters there days. The U.S. is close by and a lot of them are attracted to basketball and a ticket to a university there.

Yet, the game lives in the hearts and minds of the Bajans. They are a vocal lot, have a strong opinion on most cricketing issues. The cricketing knowledge of an average fan here can leave one spellbound.

From the balcony of the hotel room and across the sea, the lights of Kensington Oval, an immortal cricketing venue, shimmer.

This is an arena where some of the most fearsome fast bowlers head-hunted on lively pitches with bounce. There was often blood on the grass.