Letters to the Editor...
Fri, Mar 14, '03
Clearing the e-mail inbox again finds letters from cricket fans on the West Indies performance at the World Cup and thoughts on the 7-3-1 format adopted by the selectors.
The letter writers this week also took captain Carl Hooper to task for negative tactics at the World Cup and some even looked ahead with possible candidates for the team against Australia...
I've just read the article "In defence of 7-1-3" by John Richardson and feel his comments reflect the views of a lot of people. The only addition that I would make is that West Indies struggled to find a third specialist bowler who could do a semi decent job never mind a fourth one. Lawson was never used when it mattered.
So what of the future of the West Indies bowling pace attack. Drakes and Lawson get my vote for the immediate future. Another couple of people that I would like a better look at would be Ravi Rampaul from Trinidad and the Jerome Taylor from Jamaica, If they will allow another Jamaican in the squad. Dillon just does not seem to have what it takes. A few five-wicket hauls would help.
Drakes managed this twice against the minnows in the world cup even after he had been savaged in his first 2 overs by Canada. Dillon hasn't managed that. Others like Tino Best with his 28 wicket haul and Neil McGarrell with 26 wickets from the Carib Beer Cup should be worth considering for the pace attack. Cameron Cuffy has the best average.
I'm curious to see how many of these guys will get a regular place against the Aussies next month.
One final point I really do think that Devon Smith should replace Wavell Hinds as an opener. Wavell hits the ball hard but too often to a fielder. I remember the year Chris Gayle made his debut against Zimbabwe. He got the most runs in the Busta cup that year. Did well against Zimbabwe, came to England, played in one one match where he batted at number 3. He got 0 in the first innings and West Indies only batted once.
Chris was not used for the remainder of the test matches. West Indies lost the series. The following year Chris was again at the top of the chart with runs in the Busta Cup and hasn't looked back since. (does this sound familiar to Jermaine Lawson). Devon Smith score the most runs in the Busta Cup last year and is currently lying second Stuart Williams. Give the boy a chance.
In the light of World Cup failure, West Indies cricket is at a crossroads. This is not an ideal situation to be in with the impending visit of the mighty Australians. However, there are some points of encouragement.
The young batsmen are showing signs of settling into a solid unit. It is in this regard that I feel a mistake was made prior to the World Cup with the appointment of Wavell Hinds as vice-captain. Talented player as he is, his place at the top of the order has not been copper-fastened. Furthermore, Devon Smith must me afforded an opportunity at the highest level. As things stand, with Hinds in a leadership position and Gayle deserving of a place, there is no way in for the free-scoring Grenadian.
Another youngster pressing for a chance is Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo. As an exciting middle-order batsman and emerging all-rounder his call up to senior ranks can only be a short time away. Ronnie Sarwan has further enhanced his reputation at the World Cup and it is a pity that Marlon Samuels wasn't given a chance to shine. With Carl Hooper's knees getting creakier by the day, it won't be long until Sarwan and Samuels combine with regularity and panache.
In the fast bowling department, Jermaine Lawson is the great hope. Will he deliver on his promise? Apart from him no other young quick is really pressing a strong case for inclusion. It was a shame that he did not get a bowl against South Africa, New Zealand or Sri Lanka. Vasbert Drakes performed admirably but age is counting against him. Merv Dillon needs someone to share the workload and it will be a heavy workload against Australia. Dinanath Ramnarine has the ability but seems to be out of favour.
Similarly, there is no obvious successor to the gloves. In the modern game, the wicketkeeper must be able to wield a bat. perhaps there are a few more seasons to be got from the reliable Jacobs. In spite of all the new faces, Brian Lara is the key to this side. A repeat of 1999 and it could be a great series. Let's hope so.
What is the roll of Mr. Hooper, to lead, or to follow?
In retrospect I cannot think of a single positive aspect, that he has provided during this CWC. On the other hand, his negativity flows: None attacking, or aggressive. Poor field setting, and placement of individuals. Indifferent selection of bowlers, and poor bowler rotation. Failure to produce when the team most required. Failure to accept responsibility for his inability. (The psychological term for it, is projection) I could go on, and on, but I'll end with this, he leads from the rear.
The WICB had a policy of abandoning captains when they required their support. Captains such as: Richardson, and Adams were not treated with impartiality. Hooper on the other hand was giving more than adequate support. Consider an ordinary team like New Zealand with an excellent captain like Fleming. Then consider the progress of that team, and it puts Hooper in the right picture frame.
Before the Australian tour, the political feet of the WICB, need to get moving, to find a captain who is able, to lead with the boldness of the Caribbean. A captain who is able to motivate his players, and lead his team with dignity and respect. The first person that comes to mind, is the captain of the Jamaica team, Robert Samuels. Speaking of Samuels, the situation where Powell made a single, was tailor made for Marlon Samuels. I therefore have no respect for any management who kept him out.
Here's my possible West Indies 20-man squad for the series against Australia.
Openers: Devon Smith, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Daren Ganga.
Middle order: Carl Hooper, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Ryan Hinds.
Wicket-keepers: Ridley Jacobs, Carlton Baugh Jr.
Spinners: Shane Shillingford, Jason Smith.
Fast bowlers: Vasbert Drakes, Merv Dillon, Jermaine Lawson, Pedro Collins, Darren Powell, Ravi Rampaul.
Reserves: Nehemiah Perry, Dwayne Bravo, Courtney Browne, Tino Best.
If Hooper had played Samuels, Samuels most likely would have again made a compelling case for his inclusion in the team. This would have also made Hooper's removal more likely. His position is indeed tenuous, because his skills as a leader are suspect and, as a batsman, he often does not find it necessary to trouble the scorers.
Furthermore, there are at least three players on the team who could lead at least as well as Hooper and, in addition, make a better contribution in their areas of expertise. They are Drakes, Jacobs and Lara. But Hooper is a survivor of sorts and somehow does not seem to understand that it is time for him to go. Where would Hooper be with the young Turks such as Samuels (and Lawson) doing their thing? Further exposed and that much closer to being retired...