Campbell to bat #3
---Ramnarine omitted, Hinds for Test debut
Stabroek News
January 31, 2002

LOGIC is not a quality generally associated with those who select West Indies cricket teams.

Whatever little there might be is inevitably eroded in direct relation to the lack of success which has never been more pronounced than over these past five years. The muddled thinking prompted by the cumulative effect of 21 defeats in the last 25 Tests, the absence of Brian Lara and a dearth of even reasonable all rounders was evident in the eleven chosen for the first Test against Pakistan, starting at the Sharjah Stadium this morning.

This is a ground constructed in this unlikely sheikdom on the edge of the Arabian desert mainly for the benefit of the sizeable Indian and Pakistani immigrant populations and, has become increasingly clear, the gamblers who spend high stakes on the game. It is hosting its first Test match, as a neutral venue chosen by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) refused to risk the security of its players in a country hemmed in by war and rumours of war on both sides.

Rain is as rare here as a West Indies Test victory abroad. The ground exists mainly on desalinated water that rapidly evaporates into the clear blue sky.

By the experienced assessment of the Pakistani captain, Waqar Younis the pitch is grassless, very hard and no different from the several international one day tournaments which he has played

on it.

Indeed, it has never hosted a match of any greater length that the 100 overs prescribed for the shorter version. Even though the PCB has sent across its top groundsman, Mohammed Basheer, to prepare it, Waqar is not the only one skeptical about whether it would hold together three days, far less five.

Given such evidence, the wise ones presiding over such matters for the West Indies decided last night to omit their one specialist spin bowler, Dinanath Ramnarine.

The Trinidadian leg spinner is no Shane Warne but he is the only one of his type at captain Carl Hooper's disposal and the one most likely to have made an impression on a dry, worn surface.

His leg breaks and googlies have earned him 42 wickets in his 11 Tests. He would have played more but for injury, the latest of which was a strained muscle in his left side that kept him out of the two Tests in Zimbabwe in July and cut his tour of Sri Lanka short half way through the final Test.

He was omitted ostensibly to boost the batting, a choice based on the loss of Lara, the linchpin, to his damaged left elbow, and the repeated and utter failure of the lower half of the order to contribute.

To cover such deficiencies, Ryan Hinds, the left handed Barbados all rounder, was chosen for his debut Test and Sherwin Campbell brought back for his experience.Hinds, a couple of weeks short of his 21st birthday, is a highly competent batsman and useful, but no more, left arm finger spinner

whose path into the Test team has been measured and inevitable from the time he was in the West Indies Under 15 team to England. He will slot in at No.7, with the dependable wicket keeper Ridley

Jacobs at No.8.

Hinds is yet to manage a first class century but he gives the tail a more waggish look than in Sri Lanka where the last four in the order, Ramnarine among them, contributed a grand total of 40 runs

in 20 combined innings in the three Tests, including 12 ducks. Campbell has opened in every one of his 51 Tests, the last against Australia in Sydney just over a year, ago but drops to No.3 behind

Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga.

He was only added to the squad of 22 for the pre tour practice match in Trinidad on the withdrawal with a back injury of Ramnaresh Sarwan, the 21 year old who filled the one down position

with such promise in the preceding series in Sri Lanka.

The other Hinds, the tall Jamaican left hander, Wavell, whose only Test hundred was his 165 at Kensington Oval almost two years ago against much the same Pakistani attack, regains the place in the

eleven he lost against South Africa last April. Had Lara and Sarwan both been here, it might be argued, there would have been no need for such drastic shuffling. But, given the conditions, to rely on the rookie and the off spin of captain Carl Hooper infamously, but not entirely unfairly, referred to by

Geoffrey Boycott as `lollypops' is negative and self defeating. In their last four Tests, the West Indies have conceded totals of 563 for nine declared (to Zimbabwe), 590 declared and 627 for nine

declared (Sri Lanka). With one bowler short, Inzamam ul Haq, Younis Youhanna, Younis

Khan and the other run hungry Pakistanis batsmen would be salivating over the prospect of joining the feast, especially should they bat first.

And their two spinners, Saqlain Mushtaq (158 wickets in 37 Tests with his off breaks and straight ones) and Danesh Kaneria (29 in only five Tests with his leg spin) had plenty to look forward to,

especially if they do.

There is an unreal feeling to the series. There has been none of the usual build up and not even a full

warm up match for the West Indies. The Pakistanis have completed a tour of Bangladesh but were scarcely tested by international cricket's newcomers.

The reality is that a stadium with a capacity for 25,000 could have as few as a hundredth of that number, especially without two of the drawing cards, Lara and the great Pakistani all rounder,

Wasim Akram (strained hamstring) are both missing. On experience, class and record, Pakistan more than justify the 8 to one quoted on them by official bookmakers in London. What the unofficial bookmakers are offering on odds if nothing else is not known.

As in any sport involving two contestants, an upset is possible. Yet, if there is one here, the two men from the ICC's anti corruption unit present will want to find out why. It certainly won't be through West Indies team selection

West Indies: C.L.Hooper (captain), C.H.Gayle, D.Ganga,
S.L.Campbell, W.W.Hinds, S.Chanderpaul, R.O.Hinds, R.D.Jacobs,
M.Dillon, C.E.Cuffy, P.T.Collins.
Pakistan (from): Waqar Younis (captain), Shahid Afridi, Taufiq
Umar, Younis Khan, Yousaf Youhanna, Inzamam ul Haq, Abdur Razzaq,
Rashid Latif, Saqlain Mushtaq, Danesh Kaneira, Shaoaib Akhtar,
Mohammed Sami, Naved Latif, Faizal Iqbal and Mohammed Zahid.
Umpires: Riazuddin (Pakistan), G.Sharp (England).
Match referee: M.H.Denness.