The West Indies Under-19s have made a stellar if not somewhat surprisingly impressive start in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.
They have played unbeaten in their three Group B matches thus far to book a spot in the quarterfinals.
Among those victories were impressive wins against juggernauts Australia and England.
In their opening fixture, they defeated Australia by three wickets and then overcame England by 71 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method in their second match.
Their final win, a 246-run thrashing of minnows Nigeria, was more expected.
The lads from the Caribbean are now seen as one of the favourites to lift the title they last won in 2016.
While their performances have been a joy for West Indians to watch, we have to ask why can younger West Indies teams be competitive at the highest level while the senior team continues to languish at the bottom of the ICC’s rankings.
Yet, it is quite clear there is no lack of cricketing talent in the region.
Nyeem Young has been outstanding so far and has made his name among those vying for the coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
It would be almost unimaginable for the West Indies senior team to defeat Australia in a Test match or 50-over contest.
From all accounts, the T20 format appears to be the only one in which the West Indies are competitive.
One only needs to take a look at the recently concluded ICC World Cup where the senior team finished ninth out of the 10 competing teams.
They started out on a winning note against Pakistan but then lost seven of their remaining eight games to finish ahead of only the winless Afghanistan.
According to the current ICC rankings, the West Indies are the ninth-best One Day International (ODI) team and the eighth-best Test team.
There has to be a reason why between the youth level and the senior level there is a significant drop in competitiveness on the international stage.
Is it the inability to prepare our young cricketers for the transition to the next level?
Is it a lack of preparation or facilities to bring out the best in our young players?
Is it a lack of qualified personnel to assist them in developing their skills and talents?
These are questions that Cricket West Indies (CWI) needs to address.
Since Brian Lara’s retirement from international cricket in 2007, West Indies have struggled to produce top-class batsmen.
The same can also be said of the bowling department, which, too, has not frequently been able to produce world-class bowlers, especially pacers.
The top teams in world cricket have all managed to produce exceptional talent – in both the batting and bowling departments – during the Windies’ ‘lean years’.
India, the top-rated Test side, have in Virat Kohli one of the best batsmen of all time at the age of 31 and Jasprit Bumrah, the world’s leading ODI bowler.
Kohli made his debut eight months after the Windies’ Darren Bravo, who was hailed as the ‘next Lara’.
Their careers, however, have been on completely different trajectories since then.
Australia has produced the sensational Steve Smith and more recently Marnus Labuschagne, for whom scoring runs has become the norm.
England has the exciting Jofra Archer and the solid Joe Root, who helped to propel them to World Cup glory last year.
But for all the ‘greats’ this region has produced, it has failed to do so within the last decade, which has resulted in the West Indies’ dismal track record since.
But there seem to be diamonds in the rough, right now, in South Africa.
CWI must find a way to harness the region’s fresh energy and talent and polish these young gems for a world-beating West Indies senior team.