It was a surreal feeling to sit in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. I am honoured that such a magnificent arena has been built and named after me. The pitch looks good and the size of the playing area reminds me of the big grounds we used to play in Australia. It's sad that we could not get a complete game on Tuesday.
The island was supposed to have been swarming with Indians, who were to have played their first two Super Eight games here. When rain interrupted the match on Tuesday, the talking point was once again India's exit. As I mentioned in my earlier column, this is a big loss for our World Cup. Like many of their fans, I find India's ouster from the tournament as mind-boggling.
I would not blame the team management for this debacle, but there has to be some reason why a team as supremely talented as India does not achieve more success. The reasons have less to do with talent and potential and more to do with mental strength. Each player, especially the experienced one, is responsible for himself and capable of self-training and managing his mental preparation. These are aspects that come from within, so blaming Greg Chappell or even Rahul Dravid is not going to take Indian cricket ahead.
I would certainly like to help India in this aspect of their preparation if asked to. I have always enjoyed a challenge as a player, and would enjoy the challenge of instilling self-belief and confidence in a group of players as talented and promising as the Indians.
The Indians came to the West Indies last year with more or less the same players. And they were ranked second in ODIs. So I would urge fans not to judge their ability on the basis of three games — that was just how long the Indian campaign lasted. Agreed, they fared poorly, but it's too small a sample to drop a player.
I remember we were devastated when we lost the 1983 World Cup final. That is why we came in full force and with great intent to win when we toured India later that year. We needed to prove to the world and more importantly to ourselves, that we were the best team.
India tour Bangladesh in six weeks. They should regroup and convince everyone that what happened in Port-of-Spain was a blip, and nine times out of ten there can be only one winner in an India-Bangladesh encounter. Having said that, we must also acknowledge that the Bangladeshis are a talented, fast-improving bunch. They remind me of the Sri Lankans in the late eighties, and therefore cannot be considered pushovers.
Coming back to the Australia-West Indies game, Matthew Hayden looks in majestic form. However, Australian total is not entirely out of reach.