Jimmy Adams has been humiliated, like others before him
March 3, 2001
The South African team have arrived in the Caribbean. While a number of players have shown improvements during the Busta Cup ( which augurs well for the team), it would be ludicrous to suggest that our administrators have improved their below average performance.
On merit Carl Hooper deserves to the selected on the team for the series against South Africa. 889 runs and 24 wickets from nine matches is a remarkable performance. The only question he is left to answer is whether he can reach the coveted 1000 runs. On merit, a number of young players - Garrick Gayle and Sarwan (and others) also deserve inclusion. If, as Donna Simmons suggested, the selectors used merit for team selection yesterday, then neither Jimmy Adams nor Sherwin Campbell deserve a place. .
Having said that, how was the news communicated to Jimmy? I saw Jimmy at the Jamaica - Trinidad and Tobago football match and it crossed my mind that he was not going to be reappointed because (if he had been considered) he would have been in Barbados at the selectors meeting. I, like thousands of Caribbean people, wish that Jimmy had made himself unavailable for six months so that he could recover his form and confidence. I do not like to see persons committed to the region humiliated. Jimmy is a decent human being. Last year, despite the flaws in the team, he stepped up and accepted the captaincy after Lara took time off.
Mikey Holding suggested that Jimmy received a call from the Chairman of Selectors who told him that he would not be selected for the South Africa Series. Why should Adams expect to be treated any better than Viv Richards was treated last year? Doesn't he know how the WICB does things? Jimmy should have observed Lara last year. Lara is a proud cricketer - he made himself unavailable before anyone could humiliate him. Jimmy should have done the same.
While I am heartbroken that it has come to this, it is not true that this is the first time in West Indies Cricket that a captain of the team has been simply dropped. Rohan Kanhai was not as lucky as Jimmy. He did not even receive a phone call. He heard it on the BBC news. An in-form Viv Richards was unceremoniously dropped from the team for the 1992 World Cup, as was the competent, Dujon.
A number of persons believe Hooper deserves his place, but should not be appointed captain. He is viewed as a traitor who resigned from the team when we needed him for the World Cup in 1999. Several West Indies players have been welcomed back to the fold after leaving the team for a variety of reasons. Worrell refused to tour in 1947/48 - we took him back and he become a great leader; Sobers and Kanhai went to Rhodesia and we took them back (indeed Kanhai became captain); Ezra Moseley went to South Africa as an honorary white - we took him back. Clive Lloyd and all the Packer players went to Australia in 1978/79 and the Board was forced to play a second XI. The Packer players had the support of the majority of the Caribbean people since they were going to earn decent salaries, which were not available at home. We took them back and they became the greatest team in Test history. Lara, Richardson and Ambrose took time off. Hooper simply retired - let's have some consistency here please. Worrell, Lara, Richardson, Ambrose and Hooper did not leave the team for financial gain, (honorable or dishonorable) but for personal reasons. Given this reality, I have no problem with Hooper's appointment.
It is true that Hooper's average is not flattering for such a talented player. His perfomance this year however has been mind-blowing so I am prepared to give him another chance. His leadership of the Guyana team was impressive.
If Hooper has changed as the Busta performance suggests, he is actually the best man to lead the team for purely cricket reasons. Just look at our three best right handers and all can see Kanhai, Rowe and Hooper. Most of the rookies never saw Kanhai or Rowe. They were Hooper's mentors. While Lara wanted to bat like Fredericks, he had the following to say of Hooper:
"As a cricketer I think he has the potential to be the most elegant batsman in the world today. He seems to have too much time to play the ball and his cover drive, as Curtly Ambrose will tell you, is a joy to watch".
Batting has been a serious problem for us and the coach is not known for his batting, so a technically sound right hand batsman is not a bad idea at this time. Whether he can transfer their admiration for his batting to respect is another matter. He certainly demonstrated confidence in his young players and that always helps, but Busta Cup is not Test cricket. We will have to see. If married life and a two year sabbatical have destroyed his demons, he may just repay us for our patience and loyalty. He owes the purists, for they still love to see him bat.
Hooper is now 34, so he may have three or so years if things work out, but if he too is unceremoniously removed next year this time, at least our rookies will be exposed to the art of batting. He will have to lead from in front for things to work out. He will have to demonstrate that he can deal with the non-cricket reasons for his appointment. Hooper will also have to win the respect of those fans who have expressed their anger about the way the Board handled Jimmy's non-selection and his appointment. How he handles a very charged match at Sabina this weekend will give us an idea of how well he will be able to deal with the pressure of leading the West Indies team. I wish him luck.
What troubles me is the confusion in the management of our cricket. The Board claimed to be doing things differently a few years ago. The captain, who is a selector, has not been appointed, but a squad (and the possible inclusion of players in the two matches before next week's test match) has been named. By including a Busta Shield, to accommodate England A and appease West Indian supporters who were not willing to accept England A's participation in our domestic competition, the Board extended the domestic competition by two weeks. This has facilitated chaos. So the first match against South Africa takes place in a few days in Guyana, the camp, minus eleven Jamaican and Guyanese players, starts in Trinidad this weekend, while the Busta Shield finals take place in Jamaica starting Saturday . This is totally unacceptable.
I maintain that the main problem is not who should captain West Indies cricket, but the incompetence of the Board. I wonder whether we can introduce the same criteria for dismissing the board. On merit, more than a few men would be receiving phone calls right now.
Dr. Christine Cummings
Lecturer, Department of Government
University of the West Indies (Mona)
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