Move Aside, I'm Picking the Windies Team
Tue, Mar 5, '02
Rohan Kanhai Stand it will be. First tier. Front row. Face and shaved head painted in red, white and black. Banners hung. Flags at a ready. The aroma of just-cooked curry burning the noses of the Lipton-tea-sipping ladies to the west in the Ladies Pavilion. Ten year old rum bottle seal broken and its contents warming the glass and the soul in anticipation of the first day?s fireworks. And my great West Indies team will be warming up infront the Kenny Wishart and Clive Lloyd stands.
It is the morning of April 11th 2002. And the players going
through their paces with the legendary Dennis Waight are (in
1. Gordon Greenidge
2. Desmond Haynes
3. Brian Lara
4. Vivian Richards
5. Clive Lloyd
6. Garfield Sobers
7. Jeffrey Dujon
8. Malcolm Marshall
9. Curtly Ambrose
10. Courtney Walsh
11. Lance Gibbs
I know you?re thinking that the editor probably got two articles mixed up because you're completely lost. Well Skipper did his work just fine. It is me ladies and gentlemen. I am tired of everybody from Adam Gilchrist to Abdul Razzack advantaging our cricketing prophets with contempt that reduces them to the status of worn out punching bags in a free-for-all boxing gym. Tired am I. This drained soul is desperate to see the West Indies team completely and comprehensively cutting another international team's tail.
Ok, enough of memory lane. Snap out of it. You'll never again see Sir Viv mercilessly murdering express fast bowlers pitching on a perfect line and length. You may however be treated to the closest possible thing available from the willow of one overly pugnacious Jamaican in Christopher Henry Gayle. He has the ability to remind you of those brutal bludgeonings of Sir Viv. So on the morning of April 11th the team warming up with that lone warrior - Ronald Rogers ? will be quite different to the one listed above. C. Gayle though, will surely be in bold white letters in the number one slot of the wheel-turning, non-electronic, primary-school-boys operated, Shell Scoreboard.
No one in the world would question his name being up there. Most folks within the ground would be overjoyed at the prospect of him savaging Srinath the way he did Pollock when he last tapped the crease on the Bourda track. It is largely the reason why most of them paid the two thousand five hundred to sit in those plastic chairs in the Rohan Kanhai (not-so-brilliantly-designed) Stand. The rest have paid to see the same thing but from the rubber-gripped blade of a certain more technically correct, right-handed fellow from India. They have come from Skeldon in Berbice and Hampton Court in Essequibo and everywhere in-between. I hope they wasted their time and money. I hope Merv Dillon scatters his stumps with the first ball he pummels the Little Master's way. That would cause tears to be shed, both of damning pain and wild joy.
Just below Gayle's name would be one that would cause debate all day. Enthusiastic ten-year-old boys would read it and question their fathers about why it is there. Their fathers should tell them that it is there because of consistence and because he managed to outscore all other candidates. On the weight of sheer runs accumulated in the Busta Cup, Devon Smith will be the man to stroll out alongside Chris Gayle to make his debut. His tally at the end of the first day of round six of the Busta Cup was 538 compared to 451 totalled by his closest rival for the spot Leon Garrick. Darren Ganga would not be in my squad. He was forced out by the two aforementioned run hungry openers.
I had previously claimed that Garrick has more of a case to partner Gayle. No more am I of that view. After reviewing their Busta batting I have no choice but to opt for Smith.
I am presuming that all players will be fit and available. So Sarwan will get another chance to make his first hundred on his favourite ground. The Windies? Tendulkar will stroll to the wicket most likely to accompany Smith after some Gayle battering. He may not have played any matches since the Sri Lankan tour but my confidence in him is as high as his determination was in Sri Lanka.
Sir Charles will take to the crease when Smith goes for a well played debut half century. He has sealed his place for the second Test and justified my choice. He would have batted with great maturity and commonsense until he was undone by Sachin 'The Partnership Breaker'. Sir Charles would be a little rusty but will take only a few balls to show the Guyanese and an admiring Tendulkar yet again why he is the best Test batsman in the world.
The King of Guyana will stroll out to the crease the following day at No 5. Just below his name there will be a board that could barely hold S. Chanderpaul. Three Guyanese and a Trini would make up the middle order.
My keeper would remain the reliable (but fast becoming unreliable) Ridley Jacobs but only after much venting about his non-performance with the bat. I would have previously expressed to my fellow selectors my great disappointment in the region's young wicketkeepers for not pressuring Ridley to retain his place. The only opposition coming from Junior Murray and I am not quite willing to take a backward step and go down that road. I am forced to retain Ridley.
Number 8. Mahendra Nagamootoo! Number 9. Dinanath Ramnarine!
Two leg spinners? Should I be urgently rushed to the Observation Ward of the Georgetown Hospital? No, no my fellow Windies fanatics. Bourda is playing low and slow. And will get lower and slower as the match progresses. Fast bowlers would find it impossible to exploit this dead track. We all know how much of a fast bowler?s nightmare Bourda is. I know not of a single quickie who has expressed even mild delight at having to trundle his trade at Bourda.
I am playing two leggies as I already have two off-spinning batsmen. Sorry McGarrell, you came close. My stomach turned at having to leave you out infront your home crowd. My fast bowlers Dillon and Cuffy will eek out whatever little juice there is in the track early on and then eagerly hand over bowling duties to Nagas and Dinas who will have the relief support of Hoops and Gayle.
I cannot play more than two pacers of the caliber available to me on Bourda. What effect will they have? After ten overs they will be on the boundary ropes praying that all they do for the rest of the match is sign autographs. I can see Cuffy digging in and maintaining a good line and length and waiting on Rahul Dravid to falter. Dillon I can trust to persevere. But who else? The two leg-spinners will bowl all day and will get a lot more to roll and creep than any fastman. It is then that the wickets will fall.
No I am not mirroring the Indians, I am simply using a bit of commonsense after a long absence of it in the team selection. Hundreds of you will vehemently argue that Ryan Hinds should play. I understand your argument. But who must he play in place of?
I see no need to play an additional batsman (who can bowl) to my already powerful ? albeit on paper - batting line-up. What I am looking for is a spinner who can bat. Nagamootto provides me with this. He has been bowling well all Busta Cup managing to remain in the top three wicket-takers bracket (along with Gareth Breese and Ian Bradshaw). The boy from Whim Corentyne plays. Ryan Hinds waits.
Ramnarine retains his place as my Number 1 spinner. No qualms there.
Dinas is brilliant in the field and Nagas a good lower order batter. They both play on the fastbowler?s enemy track. They are more likely to be enthusiastic about going to work from the Regent Street and North Road ends.
My final XI:
1. Chris Gayle
2. Devon Smith
3. Ramnaresh Sarwan
4. Brian Lara
5. Carl Hooper
6. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
7. Ridley Jacobs
8. Mahendra Nagamootoo
9. Dinanath Ramnarine
10. Mervyn Dillon
11. Cameron Cuffy
The first eleven I listed will not stroll out on the parched outfield on April 11. If the second eleven does I may not see a ball of the match. They will have to rush me to the Georgetown Hospital after I suffer from a severe heart attack. Rational and logic are not two great influential factors involved in selecting West Indies teams.
What ever the final squad looks like though, you can count on one thing. On the morning of the first day the Rohan Kanhai Stand it will be. First tier. Front row. Face and shaved head painted in red white and black. Banners hung. Flags at a ready. Imran 'the Windies Fanatic' will be there.
* For head-shaving and face-painting tips, e-mail Imran (firstname.lastname@example.org)