Sarwan becomes seventh Guyanese to captain West Indies
April 30, 2007
A NIMBLE, Chaplinesque right-hander, Ramnaresh Ronnie Sarwan was yesterday confirmed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) as the man to take over as captain from Brian Lara, who quit international cricket last week.
Being entrusted with the arduous task of taking West Indies cricket forward, `Sars’, as he is familiarly called by team-mates and close friends, becomes the seventh Guyanese cricketer to captain the West Indies.
Sarwan is following in the footsteps of his illustrious compatriots Maurius `Pacheco’ Fernandes, Rohan Bholalall Kanhai, Clive Hubert Lloyd, Alvin Isaac Kallicharran, Carl Llewellyn Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Brought up in Wakenaam, Essequibo, Sarwan made his first-class debut for Guyana at age 16 and his Test debut in 2000 against Pakistan at age 19. After Sarwan’s his first Test innings of 84 not out against Pakistan, the former England captain Ted Dexter was moved to predict a Test average of more than 50 - an unfair millstone to hang around any young player's neck.
But on his first tour, to England in 2000, Sarwan lived up to the hype by topping the averages.
His footwork, which seemed to require no early trigger movements, was strikingly confident and precise. It was a surprise when he then produced a horror run of three runs in five innings in Australia, but against India in 2001-02 he was back to his composed best.
Sarwan, who took over as Brian Lara's vice-captain in March 2003, required 28 matches and 49 innings to post his maiden Test century, 119 in December of 2002 - and even then it came against the less-than-mighty Bangladeshis.
But, as the likes of Graham Gooch and Steve Waugh can testify, the first time is often the hardest, and since then, his batting has achieved a greater level of consistency.
A dream series against South Africa in 2003-04, where he averaged nearly a 100 runs a Test, was followed by a lean run against England.
But he battled on, and returned to form in a stunning manner with an unbeaten 261 against Bangladesh in June.
Then came the England tour in 2004 where he began and ended the tour on a low note, but was prolific in the middle. However, West Indian fortunes were on the ascendency in one-dayers as they reached the finals of the NatWest Series and then won the ICC Champions Trophy with Sarwan playing a big hand in both tournaments.
However, he was one of the players involved in the contract dispute between with WICB and missed the first Test against South Africa in 2005. On his return he scored attractive runs, but was again overlooked for the captaincy when it was handed back to Brian Lara. He didn't fare well with the bat in the 2006-07 season, averaging just 25.90 in 13 games he played till the end of the Champions Trophy.
In a shocking gesture, he was dropped from the second Test against Pakistan in the away series in November. He returned for the third Test and sustained a foot injury which kept him out of the one-dayers against Pakistan and the tour of India.
More misery was in store when he was sidelined for three weeks after suffering a hand injury in February 2007 while batting for Guyana.