A team on the build with Perry is a mistake

Orin Davidson's Eye On Sport
Stabroek News
March 12, 2000

So! Mahendra Nagamootoo has once again failed to fully impress the West Indies cricket selectors.

It may come as a surprise to many but in the leg spinner's case it should not because he has endured many disappointments before at the hands of the regional selectors.

His omission from the 13-man squad for the two Test matches against Zimbabwe leaves one to wonder whether the WICB is really sincere in its talk of rebuilding the team in light of its current horrendous record playing overseas.

One does not derive pleasure knocking the Board after every endeavour they undertake, but in most cases one does not have a choice.

In this case one of the benefits of having Nehemiah Perry in the lineup, cannot be justified at the expense of Nagamootoo or Dinanath Ramnarine, as the lone spinner in the side to take on Zimbabwe at the Queen's Park Oval, long considered the haven for spinners among the West Indies grounds.

Ramnarine it must be remembered did not fail in the last Test match he played, in New Zealand, was surprisingly dumped for the remainder of the tour. Nor was he disastrous in the Busta Cup, but now cannot find himself even in a squad of 13 for a match on a spinners track on his home ground.

Nagamootoo on the other hand proved himself the most prolific bowler in the just concluded Busta Cup and was only rewarded with a spot in a 20-man training squad.

Not for the first time has he taken more than 20 wickets in the competition, but it is the third year in succession. He has also shown promise as a batsman and from all indications in the last two years, he only needs the exposure at the higher level to make him a capable hand in the lower order.

Perry for all his years at first class level and within the last year for West Indies, was innocuous in New Zealand and took 12 wickets in five matches in the Busta Cup.

In responding to a straight question on Nagamootoo's omission for Perry, chairman of selectors Mike Findlay stated at yesterday's press conference which announced the team, that the latter's experience and batting ability gave him the edge.

Well as far as experience goes, there is already captain Jimmy Adams, the two most experienced players in Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose along with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, in the squad. You do not need much more than their collective qualities to help the younger players through their paces. Of the younger set only Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds have not played at Test level, although they both have one-day international experience. Reon King has already established himself quickly and successfully in the big time, while Ricardo Powell might need some inspiration, of the type that Perry with four Test matches and 20 one-day internationals, is doubtful to provide.

Perry is 31 years of age and it should be quite logical to conclude that it would be a better decision to invest with Nagamootoo at 24 years, in a team on the build. He has achieved at every level he has been given the opportunity to compete at and is certainly due a crack at the big time.

In Powell, who has not achieved any level significant consistency at the regional or Test level, but who has shown some ability in one-day internationals, the WICB has decided to invest with. The 20-year-old is being given opportunities to absorb exposure in the hope he will come good some day at Test level, even though his form has been wretched in the last five months.

Thus, it would only be fair that Nagamootoo who has a better Nortel and first class record, should get the break.

It is understandable that West Indies' batting is the core of the team's weakness and the onus should be concentrated on making it stronger, thus the need to justify adequate exposure for the likes of Powell, Hinds and Adrian Griffith. But one must not rule out the possibility of the bowling attack being caught with its pants down.

In Walsh and Ambrose we have two stalwarts who have laboured for more than 10 years each and with both in their late 30's, it is highly possible, either could comedown with injury anytime during the series.

Both will be entering next weekend's first Test less than 100 per cent fit and it is more likely than not, that by the time Pakistan arrives, either could be sidelined.

In such a situation, contingencies must be put in place, but Nehemiah Perry hardly qualifies as material to fit the bill.