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Although still beset by general inconsistency and the technical deficiency of their batsmen, West Indies emerged from their third series in South Africa stronger than when it began.

They won an overseas Test over established opposition for the first time in seven years, an entirely unexpected result, and an antidote to the defeatism that had enveloped West Indies cricket as a whole, in spite of their subsequent reversals. In Chris Gayle, holding on while Ramnaresh Sarwan regained fitness, they found a captain by chance, an unlikely leader with the indefinable quality of getting the best out those under him.

Clive Lloyd, himself such a skipper in the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, felt that Gayle has "got the sort of charisma that's been lacking in the past". "I believe he can become the hub of a team that is only a player or two short of becoming very good," he said.

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