DAREN GANGA gets another chance to resume his brief, stop-start international career when he receives a recall to the West Indies team sometime today.
The 23-year-old right- handed opening batsman was always the obvious option when the illness that still hasn't been officially identified forced Brian Lara to withdraw from the forthcoming tour of India.
The original 16 included only two openers, the left-handed Jamaicans Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, and Hinds' more regular station in his 24 Tests has been at No.3.
Ganga's statistics in his 12 Tests are distinctly unimpressive (563 runs at an average of 20.85) but he has been repeatedly dropped by selectors who, all the same, have invested heavily in him since picking him, at the age of 19, for the 1998-99 tour of South Africa.
He was promptly dropped for the subsequent home series against Australia and has been in and out of the team since as eight other openers have been used - Gayle, Hinds, Philo Wallace, Clayton Lambert, Junior Murray, Sherwin Campbell, Adrian Griffith and Stuart Williams.
Ganga has played Tests in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Sharjah (against Pakistan) but never in the Caribbean. Now he can add India to his c.v..
He captained the West Indies `A' team on its recent tour of England and Canada, scoring unbeaten hundreds against Lancashire and Warwickshire and averaging 55.16 in first-class matches.
He and the other five players for India not picked for the ICC Champions Trophy tournament (batsman Marlon Samuels, all-rounder Gareth Breese and fast bowlers Cameron Cuffy, Jermaine Lawson and Darren Powell) are scheduled to join the team here on Wednesday.
Vasbert Drakes and Corey Collymore, not wanted for the Test segment of the Indian tour, return home today, doubtless to be summoned again for the seven one-day internationals in India in November.
Runako Morton flew back to the Caribbean last Wednesday for what he reported was his 86-year-old grandmother's funeral but what, it now appears, was either a figment of his strange imagination or a deliberate attempt to leave early.
The team remains in Colombo until October 1, utilising the excellent facilities to prepare for the Indian tour.
Since last Friday, when they were knocked out of the Champions Trophy, the players have been concentrating on physical work under Ronald Rogers.
They change the focus to intense practice from Wednesday, culminating with a three-day match against Pakistan who are getting ready for the first Test of their relocated series against Australia, in Colombo October 3-7.
Meanwhile, team manager Ricky Skerritt continues to remain silent about Lara's illness "in respect to Brian's privacy". When Lara was hospitalised following his Man-of-the-Match innings of 111 against Kenya last Tuesday, Skerritt said in a media statement that it was "suspected hepatatis".
Now he won't even reveal when the star left-hander is scheduled to leave Apollo Hospital here.
His reasons are sincere but the secrecy has simply stirred uninformed speculation over what is the matter with one of the game's highest profile stars. The international press is here in numbers and is perplexed by the mystery.