Chopping and Changing Orin Davidson's Eye on Sport
Stabroek News
January 27, 2002

Of all the undertakings by the West Indies Cricket Board, the selection panels have become the longstanding whipping boys of regional cricket administration over the years, because their work have more often than not, been unimpressive to those who follow the sport.

To kick off the New Year the current panel unfortunately has played true to form with the squad arrived at for the upcoming series against Pakistan. Consistency of performance, ironically, is the motto of most selectors whether for cricket selection or any other sport in general, yet the current WICB panel has again shown an inability to practice the said consistency they preach.

The once great Pakistan player Mustaq Mohammed was one of the first to institute the expression `Chopp-ing and Changing' relative to team selection many years ago, but of late our selectors have learnt to perfect the practice. The great numbers of players used in the last two years in the WICB's quest to arrest the team's steep decline in performance, leaves one to wonder whether these gentlemen are genuinely serious about doing their best to develop West Indies cricket.

Admittedly, the team has been affected by an alarming rash of injuries, since last year's tour of Zimbabwe, which however, should be no excuse for the high number of changes made for every series contested. Far too many cases exist of promising players not being allowed to settle within the teams before being discarded without a fair chance.

The most famous example must be Robert Samuels whose axing after a very good effort of 75 in his very last Test innings in the 1997/98 Australia tour, so devastated the player, he never was the same again. Since then we have had many instances of players being merely introduced to Test level competition, by selectors who obviously don't realise the harmful repercussions that can result, to the detriment of West Indies cricket on the whole.

Another example is Corey Collymore who was taken to England in 2000, then promptly dropped until last year when he reappeared as a one-day bowler. Wicketkeeper Wayne Phillip was also used on that tour and was never heard of again. Then there is Mahendra Nagamootoo, picked for the England, Australia (2000/01) and Zimbabwe tours, played just one Test Down Under where he happened to topscore and took three wickets, but who now seems destined for the ex-Testie list.

Adrian Griffith made a good start in the 1999 New Zealand tour, played against Australia and in England, but can now safely be considered the forgotten one.

Similarly Leon Garrick was selected for one Test in the South Africa series, went to Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka but now finds himself out of the upcoming Pakistan competition.

The squad announced last week to oppose Pakistan saw the return of ex opening batsman Sherwin Campbell to the touring party, most significantly at the expense of Garrick. Unless the intention is to break up the opening pair of Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga or of inserting him in the middle order at the expense of Wavell Hinds, it is difficult fathoming the wisdom in selecting Campbell for this tour.

For a series of only two Tests, surely one does not expect players being dropped for performance after one match, thus it is hard to see Campbell serving any sensible purpose in Sharjah.

For one thing, he is on the wrong side of 30 years old, was dropped more than one year ago and is dogged by a glaring technique deficiency that has made him struggle for runs in his last two series which caused his demise.

The younger player Garrick should have been the choice, as he is more likely to learn from the series and continue his development which began in the South Africa home series and extended to Zimbabwe/Kenya and Sri Lanka. There is also Neil McGarrell whose impressive Test record of 17 wickets from four matches for an average of 26.14, did not make an impression with the selectors who promptly discarded him for the Pakistan series, after only, one wicket-less innings in Sri Lanka.

Surely this cannot be grounds for omission for a player who is still in his 20s.

Our cricketers must be given better chances to develop at the highest level of the sport, as the selectors, all ex-Test players would know that development cannot occur overnight.

Chopping and changing was never the policy of the selectors who helped make our teams of the 1970s and 80's the best in the world.

Unfortunately, this panel seems oblivious of that important fact.