Another regional season has started and the scores are low.
It's business as usual in Caribbean cricket.
Yesterday the first round ended, but even before the scheduled last day's play got going, defending champions Jamaica had already collected full points, against Barbados, at Kensington Oval.
There was a time such a result would have raised many eyebrows up and down the region. To beat Barbados at "fortress" Kensington and with more than a day to spare to boot, was something that would have been considered almost freakish in the days when Malcolm Marshall was setting off from the end at Kensington now bearing his name and current Barbados manager Desmond Haynes was opening the innings, to be followed sometime later by present assistant coach Emmerson Trotman. But these are different times.
Jamaica vs Barbados has always been one of the marquee match-ups in regional competition.
It must have been with much chagrin and a fair deal of gritting of teeth and silent muttering that Trotman and Haynes watched their charges just narrowly miss getting first innings points chasing 165 and then do even worse in the second innings, being bowled out for 128 when 191 was needed for victory. The Bajans have lost the ability to seize the moment and capitalise on even a slight advantage.
And while for five years straight, Jamaica have become Barbados of old in first-class cricket, making 165 and 188 on a Kensington pitch that is normally true and good for batting, is really nothing to text to Kingston about. But so the season has started.
The scores in the other first round matches were better though; especially at Beausejour in St Lucia where Combined Campuses and Colleges got over 300 in their first innings and Windward Islands over 400, the old Devon Smith getting to three figures in both innings to take the Windwards to a good victory yesterday.
It would be heartening if the scoring in the Windwards vs CCC match was more the pattern for the season than Jamaica vs Barbados. But the recent trends do not suggest that will be the case. However, a change, an improvement is more than due now.
The way players go in regional cricket will be the way, generally speaking, that the West Indies team will go. Hasn't that been the case these long years?
There are just some basic things individual players and their teams need to be successful: determination, some bit of talent, a dose of self-belief and capitalising on pivotal moments when they present themselves. Those moments can come in the form of a dropped catch, an lbw verdict that goes your way or even being written off by the opposition or the press.
Cricket is full of success stories born out of such circumstances.
Look at what happened in the Queen's Park Oval in 1994.
West Indies were playing England and, thanks to the new boy Shivnarine Chanderpaul with a second innings half-century, had managed to set the opposition 190 to win. The pitch was a typical Oval one by the fourth day, not easy to bat on if you were not patient and watchful.
The odds favoured an England victory at the start. But then came a pivotal moment for West Indies.
According to Jimmy Adams, one of the young turks in the side back then, it was the run out of Mark Ramprakash in the first over that followed Curtly Ambrose's first ball dismissal of captain Mike Atherton lbw.
He told the Wisden Cricketer later: "That was when we smelled it. Watching Ramprakash, we saw that England were more nervous than we were. They panicked too early in the day. One thing you learn from playing games is that when one side knows the other team believes it isn't going to win, then it's over."
Famously, England ended up getting just 46, mesmerised by King Curtly.
That is what Kirk Edwards' Barbados' side must learn to do, sense opportunities and snatch them.
But what if you are having a bad trot, like Ramnaresh Sarwan against the Aussie pacers Down Under and confidence is low?
Take a page from the Dennis Amiss handbook.
Back in 1976, the summer when the late Tony Greig's England was supposed to make West Indies grovel, Clive Lloyd's men made him eat his words. Accomplished opener Dennis Amiss, his form and confidence wrecked previously by the Australian fast bowlers, was brought back for the final Test at the Oval—the Michael Holding match where "Whispering Death" took 14 wickets on a "dead" track with pure pace. Amiss, however, made 205.
Hear him: "Everybody had written me off against fast bowling. I'd had some problems and I was determined to try and put the record straight."
His teammate in the match, seamer Mike Selvey told Wisden Cricketer: "They say he had been playing that innings in the nets for three months. Bob Willis (former England fast bowler) told me he had spent months in the nets with the fast bowlers firing it in at him."
A little perseverance and courage can do wonders.
And of course in every team game, there can be no success without teamwork. From starboy to fringe player, there often come moments in a season when the needs of the team must take preference over personal goals.
In Brian Lara's year of multiple records in 1994, there was at least one such occasion during his triple trophy campaign with English county, Warwickshire.
Lara made two centuries in a drawn match with Leicestershire. And his teammate, allrounder Paul Smith relates to Wisden about the second ton: "Brian played a lot of match-winning innings that season but his second century against Leicestershire was completely selfless. We had identified Leicestershire as a threat early on and we knew it was important to avoid defeat. He (Lara) was batting with Neil Smith towards the end, who was no mug with the bat, but Brian kept turning down long singles when he was 99 to keep the strike."
History surely can teach us a lot if we let it.