WICB must start thinking of Carl

Orin Davidson's Eye On Sport
Stabroek News
December 31, 2000

Colin Croft has made two calls for them to return home but even if the West Indies Cricket Board is contemplating the unthinkable they would be best served, making the steps now for pragmatic changes to the team's composition for now and the future.

For the final Test Down Under and the upcoming tour by South Africa, there is an obvious need for production from the batting lineup and just as importantly shrewd captaincy.

The humiliation currently heaped on the team is due to lapses in those two crucial areas of West Indies' performances, but it is also very obvious that the bowling standard has dipped below the normal high standards. This squad may not be bowling as badly in comparison to the batting, but its lack of penetration is a contributory factor in West Indies finding themselves on the verge of suffering their second 5-0 whitewash in just two years.

Because of the unavailability of two key men- the retired Curtly Ambrose and the injured Reon King, the bowling has lost some bite and the Australians are capitalising fully.

But the same cannot be said for the batting order which apart from the absence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the most experienced players are playing and are failing.

Sherwin Campbell's continued presence in the team for the fifth Test, would be inexcusable in light of his failure to even clear double figures except once from eight innings so far for a total of 54 runs. For a player of his experience of 46 Tests before this series, Campbell's production should have been 100 percent better.

His shoddy technique has been cruelly exposed by the Australian pacemen and the identical manner of dismissals in all eight innings attests to poor footwork.

He would be better off taking a rest from competition and the tormenting Australians to re-evaluate his game and come up with a solution to his problems with specialist help, sooner rather than later.

His much younger and less experienced opener Darren Ganga has looked more accomplished and has outlasted him most of the time, at the crease simply because his footwork is better.

At this stage of West Indies distress, any of the other specialist batsmen are likely to do better in the opening position, so the lack of another regular opener should not be an excuse to retain Campbell.

Jimmy Adams was once described as a captain by default just after his appointment this year, and unfortunately he has done nothing to improve his credibility both as captain and middle order batsman.

His 136 runs from eight innings, despite two not outs are hardly becoming of a player of his experience in the series, much less for someone who is supposed to lead by example. Adams' captaincy on the field is so predictably defensive, criticism of it from Lord's in England to Melbourne, via radio and TV commentators is becoming like a stuck record.

And it is not for the sake of rubbing in the agony of West Indies failures in England and Australia, the commentators are exposing his inefficiencies in field placings and use of bowlers, but because it is clear for everyone to follow whether through TV or radio, that his tactics are harming the team's chances for success. West Indians are now beginning to understand that the team's narrow escape against Pakistan at home was not just an isolated lapse but a case of a team declining in all aspects of the game.

Despite his brilliance in the Adelaide Test Brian Lara generally can also be deemed a disappointment.

He is the leading West Indian scorer so far in the Tests with 258 runs but more than two thirds were scored in that splendid 182 on the batsman friendly Adelaide pitch.

His bizarre second innings dismissal at Melbourne, playing no shot to a ball pitched on the stumps again emphasises the fact that Lara's visual judgement is not as good as it used to be, because of similar dismissals on the recent England tour.

This pathetic state of affairs caused more or less by the lack of form from the regulars and inexperience among the newcomers, not withstanding Marlon Samuels' promising start, should necessitate the need to have players of proven ability back into the team.

The case for the WICB to seriously reconsider its eligibility rule and have Vasbert Drakes, the outstanding all-rounder who has taken the South African first division league by storm, resume his international career in the team, should be stronger than ever.

An even stronger case is on the cards for Carl Hooper to regain his place in light of his imminent return to the Busta Cup competition.

West Indies have never before found more wanting for the likes of Hooper's versatility, in recent times.

His batting is unquestionably among the best by West Indies standards while he has nothing more to prove that his off spin bowling is anything less than top class.

More importantly though, his captaincy skills could be the prescription to help lift West Indies from the doldrums.

With Adams' seeming inability to improve his tactics, the Board would be best advised to start thinking of Hooper as a replacement at the helm to help stem the tide of unchecked failures.

He is a player of proven batting ability and his success for Guyana as captain should make him the ideal candidate.

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