If the first few matches are anything to go by, you can't blame India's star players for giving the West Indies a miss. After the high intensity World Cup and the IPL, this is a massive comedown, a contest which interests nobody — with stands deserted and players sleepily going through the motions even the cheerleaders appear bored.
If T20 and one-dayers are so utterly flat, one dreads to think of the response to Tests to be played later this month. The hard fact is that the West Indies, minus Chris Gayle, have the look of a Ranji side. Once a champion side, they now are in the same league as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
So, did top Indian players do the right thing by skipping the tour to nurse injuries and get their bodies match-ready for England and, in Tendulkar's case, to spend quality time with family?
Given the quality of play till now, it looks as if they made an inspired decision. What is the point of pushing yourself for a contest cramped between the high-profile World Cup/IPL on one side and a more challenging tour to England a little later.
Number vs value
While there has been intense debate about excessive cricket, and the more recent controversy about club vs country, what is often overlooked is that in the amount of cricket that is played, quality is usually sacrificed. The real problem is not the number of matches scheduled but the number of low-value games.
In this situation, players will make calculated calls about where they will show up and what they will avoid. Surely, someone like Tendulkar will not put up his hand and catch a flight to play matches that do not excite him.
Cricket administrators understand the problem, they realise the importance of quality because this ultimately drives economics, whether in terms of ticket and television revenues, or general spectator support. The ICC is mindful of this, hence the move to have a tighter World Cup by reducing the Associate member teams from future tournaments. This could be Step One in ensuring quality but more radical steps are required to maintain the competitive nature of international cricket.
Till that happens, Indian cricket fans will have to endure the agony of sub-standard cricket, and somehow digest India-A playing West Indies-B matches .The only silver-lining in the dreary spectacle is, with top stars staying away, fringe players get an opportunity to prove themselves.