15-man W.I. squad for Bangladesh
Lack of imagination evident in selections
By Ezra Stuart
Guyana Chronicle
November 21, 2002

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - The Sir Vivian Richards-led selection panel has only been in the job a few months but judging from the recent West Indian teams which have been chosen, nothing seems to have change.

The lack of imagination which was prominent in the preceding panel chaired by Mike Findlay, is also evident in the selections of Messrs Richards, Joey Carew, Gordon Greenidge, team coach Roger Harper and incumbent captain Carl Hooper.

The 15-member squad which was announced on Tuesday for three One-Day internationals and two Tests against minnows Bangladesh, is definitely a case in point as the selectors have seemingly adopted a laissez-faire approach to their job.

Despite the shortcomings of a number of players, who have produced nothing of substance, the aging and injury-prone Vincentian pacer Cameron Cuffy is the only casualty from the ill-fated three-Test series against India, which the West Indies lost 2-0.

In making an honest assessment of the squad chosen for Bangladesh, question marks surround the selection of the quartet of fast bowlers Corey Collymore and Vasbert Drakes, leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo and opening batsman Daren Ganga.

Barbadians Collymore and Drakes, who were specifically chosen for the Champions Trophy One-Day tournament in Sri Lanka and the seven-match One-Day series against India, have been retained despite below-par returns.

Collymore has been a useful One-Day bowler with 34 wickets in 28 matches at an average of 29.97 and an economy rate of 4.17 while Drakes has merely given luke-warm bowling performances on his comeback to the international arena after playing professionally in South Africa.

One get the feeling that the selectors don’t want to be too hasty in their judgments by discarding either Collymore or Drakes at this stage, especially considering the batsmen-friendly conditions in India, where all the seam bowlers on both teams, have come in for a hammering.

But still, many pundits will ask whether this is not rewarding mediocrity and sympathizing with failure?

It is also difficult to fathom the retention of Guyanese Nagamootoo, after he was dropped from the both the Test and One-Day side.

Certainly, if a player is failing and his batting or bowling is not up to par, he should be replaced once worthy replacements can be found.

But are there players on the sidelines who not only merit selection but are also capable of performing on the international stage?

This tour of Bangladesh, the world’s weakest Test nation, would be the perfect place to blood a couple of new players.

One such player is Dominican seamer Fernix Thomas, who was among the top wicket-takers in both the 2002 Busta Cup and Red Stripe Bowl.

Having watched Thomas bowl in Zone “B” of the RSB in St Lucia as well as in two Busta Cup matches this year, against Barbados at Kensington Oval and versus Bangladesh at Arnos Vale in St Vincent, he surely really deserves selection.

If the selectors don’t believe Thomas is quite ready, they could have recalled either Guyanese Reon King or Adam Sanford, who made a favourable impression in his debut Test series against India in the Caribbean, a few months ago.

Both King and Sanford are strike bowlers with the ability to take wickets when they are on song and one can only hope that the selectors would give them a second chance, instead of allowing them to fall by the wayside.

Another player who deserves a second chance is Neil McGarrell, who bowls tidy left-arm spin, is a useful lower order batsman and a competent fielder.

He should have taken Nagamootoo’s place on the Bangladesh trip.

After all, his Test and One-Day record is slightly better than his compatriot.

For example, McGarrell has taken 15 ODI wickets in 17 matches at an average of 45.40 at an economy rate of 4.75 runs per over whereas Nagamootoo’s 16 wickets in 21 matches have been earned at 56.50 runs apiece, at an economy rate of 5.13. Neither has been impressive with the bat in ODIs.

The lanky Barbadian left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, who made encouraging strides on the field of play with his steady slow bowling and hard-hitting late order batting, would have been the ideal choice.

But sadly, Benn ruined his chances of selection by his misconduct on the recent “A” team tour of Britain and Canada when he was fined 10 per cent of his tour fees.

Another strange selection is that of Trinidadian Ganga to replace Hooper, who is a middle order batsman and off-spinner. It is a continuation of a shocking trend as he was also called up to replace another established middle order batsman, Brian Lara for the Indian Test series.

Jamaicans Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds have cemented their opening partnership for the time being and barring injury, are expected to be used in both Tests against Bangladesh as well as in the three One-Day Internationals.

Furthermore, with aggressive Jamaican batsman Ricardo Powell staying on after the One-Day series, it means that he and Ganga will now vie for final batting spot, vacated by Hooper’s withdrawal to undergo surgery on a troublesome knee.

With Hooper unavailable, Barbadian left-hander Ryan Hinds would have been a front-runner to reclaim a place in the Test side and redeem himself against lightweight opposition after his woeful batting against the Indian spinners.

But he has been ruled out by torn ligaments of the right knee and it is crystal clear, the selectors are not keen on his countryman and fellow left-handed middle order batsman Floyd Reifer, who was the MVP of the Red Stripe Bowl.

The question we must therefore ask, will Ganga be asked to bat in the middle order or will Powell, who is regarded as a One-Day specialist, given another chance to play Test cricket?

Finally, don’t you think this Bangladesh tour, would have been a good opportunity to give Grenadian left-handed opening batsman Devon Smith, a feel of the atmosphere at the international level?

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