WI selectors play true to form Orin Davidson's Eye on Sport
Stabroek News
March 17, 2002

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The West Indies Cricket Board has played true to form despite a desperate need for a deviation from some of its policies to rescue the regional team from its continuing dive towards the bottom of world cricket points ladder..

The WICB selection panel's decision to name 22 players for a one week camp in preparation for the imminent series against India has once again exposed questionable selection choices and an inability to grasp the relevant needs of the team which has to go into action in less than a month.

Despite its good intentions, it is difficult to appreciate the panel's wisdom in naming 22 players for a camp for just one week.

So far it is not clear what this camp will entail as in the past, ex players have worked with the players in the bowling and batting departments, which could be described as training clinics in normal circumstances.

But for an exercise of only one week, this activity is likely to amount to nothing more than a series of net practice sessions, team talks and team meetings, which it should be reserved specifically for the playing squad instead.

To have 22 players go through the motions in such a situation is a waste of time and money, to the unbiased eye.

One could hardly see the benefits to be derived for the players who will not make the playing party, except a few US dollars of allowances and fees, if the latter is still a policy of the WICB.

Instead the panel should have arrived at its squad of 14 by now for the early matches of the five-Test series who should be the ones encamped, and certainly merely for one week.

The last time a West Indies team was properly encamped it was for two weeks before the tour of Zimbabwe last year, and where the first half was used specifically for physical training and the latter for actual playing sessions.

If the same plans are in place this time around, one could hardly imagine the players benefitting from only four days of PT and three for net sessions.

And the logistics of handling 22 players at a time makes the exercise even more meaningless.

This initial miss-step by the selection panel hints of a repetition of last year's charade where dozens of players were tried in the Test and one day international series against South Africa, but which has amounted to nothing as the chopping and changing policy is still in existence one year later.

It leaves one to wonder whether the selectors derive some innate pleasure adding new players to its teams everytime a new series begins.

This time the bandwagon has stopped at the names of Darren Powell, Adam Sanford and Gareth Breese, who on the basis of performances in this year's Busta Cup, have become part of the selectors' plans, at the expense of others who have been dumped even before getting a chance to prove themselves.

The likes of Leon Garrick, Reon King, Kerry Jeremy, Colin Stuart, Jermaine Lawson and Neil McGarrell, who have all toured with West Indies teams without establishing themselves as failures, have been told to forget about Test competition for the time being, as their omission from the 22 suggests.

There is little doubt that performances at regional level are important to the selection of West Indies teams, but the statistics along should not be the sole criteria for selection.

The quality of opposition, game situations, courage, technique and missed chances are equally important factors that should be taken into account, in assessing the ability of players.

From all evidence all of the relevant factors were not taken into account in the selection of the WICB's 22-man squad.

The declining standard of West Indies domestic competitions and the placid nature of pitches in the region, allow ordinary players to score like world class batsmen.

When faced with quality opposition in better bowling conditions many of these batsmen fail, yet the experts never seem to learn.

As the recent results in Sri Lanka and Sharjah have shown, the real test for our players are not in their own backyards, but against quality opposition in foreign conditions, which the upcoming series is not likely to provide.