Murray and Smith: Attractive Opposites

Wed, Mar 13, '02

 

Terry Finisterre

Junior Randolph Murray scored four centuries this season (642 runs; avg 53.40) batting at either four or five. Opener Devon Smith averaged just over 64 runs per outing, and his total was even more impressive, an aggregate of 750. The Windward Islands depended heavily on these two men, at opposite ends of their careers, with different approaches and responsibilities.

Murray, it seems, will never be selected to the West Indies team again, even in a reserve role. At least, that's how it appears when he remains a
prolific scorer and a competent gloveman, only to be overlooked in favour of Courtney Browne.

In this year's Busta Cup tournament, Murray had 27 dismissals, Browne 18, and Murray was the better batsman. The former Windwards vice-captain has been the subject of polarised speculation, to which the likes of Brian Lara and Carl Hooper are no strangers. In the case of Murray, though, he's on the outside looking in, and at the age of 32, he's unlikely to be given a
second (third? fourth?) chance by the selectors.

Murray's countryman, though, is a different story. Smith is a left-hander, compact and neat. He scored a half century on the last day of the Busta preliminaries, and the importance was more than just academic. Sure, it padded his stats nicely, but that score was indicative of the prowess Smith has shown all season, one of four consistent performers for the Windwards. (The other two, John Eugene and skipper Rawl Lewis, were consistent in a different, less celebrated way.) Tony Cozier joined the British media in
lauding Smith after his performances in England last year with the regional youth team, and surely this young man has blossomed under the
spotlight.

So, there they are. Murray's time has passed him, like Eugene, Lewis and the rest. Smith represents a new Windward Islands, and perhaps, with Darren Sammy, Shane Shillingford, Camillus Alexander, Rommel Currency and the like,
a new West Indies.

They're the first beneficiaries of what little wisdom the WICB has shown this past decade, products of a youth system that actually seems to be somewhat purposeful and well-designed. The challenge now is to keep these young men, these Smiths and Sammys and Shillingfords, on the right track, a track diametrically opposed to the one on which their elder peers have taken.

* Terry Finisterre is an award-winning sports journalist based in St. Lucia. He also is the sports editor at Radio Caribbean International and
operates the OECS Athlete Web site.