A lousy selection job
By Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
May 6, 2007

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At this dire state of West Indies Cricket, it would be a great pleasure being the fly on the wall during team meetings of the regional ruling body.

These meetings comprise huge numbers of individuals, close to 20 from different levels of society, all conscionable enough to appreciate the requirements needed to make West Indies cricket better.

The big question though is whether those individuals care.

The consensus is that the majority use their positions to boost specific interests, whether personal or territorial.

The obvious wrangling over the appointment of new captain Ramnaresh Sarwan is one example.

After four years as vice-captain, while displaying proof of his tactical acumen and motivational qualities, the WICB Board still found itself in a toss-up to decide whether Sarwan was better than Daren Ganga.

It should've been a straight forward decision and not one allowed to drag on until a mere week before the team leaves for the England tour.

On other occasions you wonder whether those WICB officials regard their meetings as serious brainstorming sessions or social gatherings.

Far too often the WICB is found behind the eight-ball on pressing issues, for anyone to conclude otherwise.

Not only has West Indies Players Association (WIPA) President Dinanath Ramnarine been complaining endlessly about the Board dragging its feet on every dispute they have. Fans now are observing the slight attention being paid to the team even after every disgusting series loss after another.

At the World Cup West Indies were allowed to complete like the five minnow teams they hosted, without a physical trainer.

Before the squad for the England series was selected, Board President Ken Gordon pronounced sweeping cha-nges.

Rebuilding for the future was supposed to be the main priority with an emphasis on discipline.

Now after another lousy selection job with additional recycling, you are hearing selection panel chairman Gordon Greenidge hinting they were not briefed.

"We were waiting to find out whether or not a report comes out of the hearsay," Greenidge reportedly said while referring to the disciplinary problems Gordon had lamented about.

It leaves one to wonder whether Gordon was merely playing to the media or speaking on his own behalf and got no support from Board thereafter.

Yet even if the selection panel got no directive from the Board, the everlasting struggles of the team demanded a change of selection policy.

Following another wretch-ed World Cup campaign and the retirement of star batsman and controversial captain Brian Lara, the England tour was no better time to start a new page. Greenidge does not require brain surgeon qualities to grasp that reality.

But no, the panel thought it best to carry on with a batting lineup with little hope for the future.

Young Adrian Bharatt who became the youngest ever West Indian first class centurion at 16 years this year, would've been a better investment than Runako Morton or Sylvester Joseph, two average batsmen entering the sunset of their careers.

It is similarly perplexing that 19-year Kieron Pollard who scored heavily in both forms of the game also this year, and got selected for the World Cup, is now denied the opportunity to continue his grooming.

So is Lendl Simmons who made the Pakistan tour late last year and the World Cup following good performances with the 'A' team in England last year.

Now he is left to wonder what non-cricket offence he committed.

Any argument about experience being required with Morton and Joseph's selections cannot be tolerated because Sarwan already has Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle, not to mention Ganga included.

Joseph's captaincy qualities are also made redundant with Ganga there.

Greenidge should also be made to explain the exclusion of a specialist spinner when between Dave Mohamed, Amrit Jaggernauth and Omari Banks have consistently distinguished themselves in the Carib Cup wickets aggregates over the last few years.

These spinners have proven themselves among the very best among a substandard bowling stock in West Indies cricket, and either one deserves a place in a 15-player squad comprising Jerome Taylor, Darren Powell, Cory Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul and Darren Sammy.

The status of paceman Jermain Lawson is also becoming disturbing. The Board or the selectors ought to make a definitive stand on the player's eligibility especially when he topped the Carib Cup wickets tally with 29 in five games this year and finds himself completely ignored for England after similar treatment for the World Cup.

The fact that is once flawed action has been deemed legit, should ensure he be considered for West Indies selection more so after he was once the team's spearhead bowler.

It is incredulous the selectors are behaving as though an endless stock of prime reserves are available, to treat Lawson this way.

Had Sri Lanka and Pakistan adopted similar stances Muttiah Muralitharan and Shoaib Akhtar would've been lost to the cricket world.

But then again most of the WICB's actions are superficial.

Last weekend's Almond Beach meeting is the latest example.