The Disrespect of Neil McGarrell

Tue, Mar 8, '05

by NORM GONSALVES

Guyana

It's hard to believe that Guyana, with the worst bowling in the region, has been leavingt out Neil McGarrell from the Guyana team against his wishes. An article in the online issue of Stabroek News has confirmed that that was exactly what has been happening.

In typical Guyana fashion, the cricket authorities have managed to mislead the public into believing that McGarrell was unfit all this time. Now we hear, from McGarrell himself, that he has been fit and ready to play for at least the last two matches.

Some of Guyana's greatest achievements in recent years, and maybe for all time, have been because of Neil McGarrell, and it is an insult to all decent people in Guyana and the West Indies to see this outstanding son of Guyana being treated with the disrespect he is currently enduring.

Who can forget when McGarrell opened the batting against the Leewards and Ambrose, in place of the injured DeGroot, and scoring a half century to lead Guyana to victory? When England 'A' had Guyana on the ropes several years ago, McGarrell, more reknowned for his bowling, helped to bat Guyana to victory. His many exploits for Guyana, mostly with the ball, are far too numerous to be included here.

Even at the Test level his commitment to his team has always been of the highest order. He started his Test career in brilliant fashion by taking the first 4 wickets to fall, against South Africa. Like most West Indies spinners in recent years, he was not given a fair run to show his worth at the Test level, even though his career statistics were/are better than that of any of the fast bowlers around, both then and now.

At the beginning of this year's West Indies first class season, McGarrell and Mahendra Nagamootoo, the two bowling veterans of the Guyana team, were accused of "not pulling their weight" in the team, probably because they were not taking as many wickets as they usually do. McGarrell sustained a groin injury as well, and was "rested" - supposedly until he was fit again.

Since then, while McGarrell was absent, Guyana surprisingly beat Barbados through Ramdass's unexpectedly outstanding batting, and then Trinidad through Nagamootoo's fine bowling. Otherwise, Guyana struggled embarrassingly to take wickets against the Windwards, with the opposition tailenders batting decisively twice.

Despite being omitted, however, McGarrell continues to practice with the national team, demonstrating that team commitment comes naturally to him. Meanwhile, Fudaddin, Cush and Daesrath have all been quite mediocre. Fudaddin might be excused because of his age, but it is hard to believe that either Cush or Daesrath could be considered better candidates for the Guyana team than Neil McGarrell.

Meanwhile, the rumors of pro-Indian racism and improper influence on the selection process by Solomon are making their rounds. The circumstances of the McGarrell case will only add fuel to those rumors, especially if McGarrell is still left out of the team for the remaining match.

A country like Guyana, with an average annual population decrease of about 2 percent, could ill afford to lose her committed sons. Such unchecked injustice, as is being meted out on McGarrell, will not help Guyana in any way.