Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Tony Becca | That stunning 100 by Russell

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Andre Russell
Former WI Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy.
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Big man Chris Gayle, captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, hit six towering sixes and led his team to their second victory in the four-year-old Caribbean Premier League (CPL) last Sunday in St Kitts.

Armed with his big bat, the heavyweight weapon which has probably made him the biggest hitter ever in cricket, Gayle slammed his sixes like he was sitting in his deck chair and swatting flies.

It was as easy as that - or so it appeared, looking on via the television.

Gayle's assault - 54 off 22 deliveries - left the Guyana Amazon Warriors, who were chasing their first title in three finals, with very little chance whatsoever after they were dismissed for a paltry 93 in 16.1 overs on a slow, easy-paced pitch.

As good as Gayle's assault was, however, it was not anywhere near to AndrÈ Russell's stunning 100 off 42 deliveries two days earlier in the Tallawahs' second and crucial play-off match against the Trinbago Knight Riders.

It was, for a start, the first century in T20 cricket by Russell, and it was also the fastest century in the four-year history of the CPL.

It was also, or so it seemed, the reason why the Tallawahs found themselves in the final.

After their main bowler, Dale Steyn, left for home in South Africa, the Tallawahs, who won all their engagements in Jamaica, ran into a bad patch, and lost three matches on the trot before going into the play-offs where they also lost to the Amazon Warriors.

That defeat looked ominous, and when the Tallawahs met the Knight Riders in the crucial play-off game, and when they were 67 for four after 9.1 overs, it seemed that the end was in sight.

That, however, was not to be.

In came Russell, and after swinging and missing at one or two deliveries, he chalked his cue, as billiards players would say, and went to town, enjoying himself every step of the way.

In what he described as "clean hitting", he did it for himself and for Jamaica. In scoring 100 out of the 128 runs scored while he was batting, he hit three fours and smashed 11 sixes, fast bowler Ronsford Beaton feeling the brunt of his attack, 58 runs coming from his four overs.

Maybe that was why Russell was named man of the tournament.

 

Thank you,

 

 

Darren Sammy

 

The West Indies selectors have named Carlos Brathwaite the captain for the T20 series against India, and not surprisingly, the move has left St Lucians up in arms, and in many ways, rightly so.

The St Lucians have decided to protest by surprisingly boycotting the first Test match in the Darren Sammy National Stadium, so named in honour of hometown man, Sammy.

The captaincy of the West Indies is nobody's by right, but except for his unfortunate outburst in Kolkata at the end of the recent T20 world finals when as the captain of the winning team, he used the victory speech to lambast the West Indies Cricket Board, Sammy has served West Indies cricket quite well.

As a player, he could not or should not have made the Test team, and as such, he was a poor choice as captain. He could neither make the team as a batsman nor as a bowler, and he was not good enough to do so as an all-rounder.

As a result, his presence always forced the selectors to select 10 players and a captain, and if the truth be told, except for his dealing with the players and the press, not a brilliant one at that.

Sammy, who scored one Test century and once, before his coming as the captain, took seven wickets in an innings against England, was, however, true to himself.

"I knew it would be difficult, but guess what? I took it on head-on; I embraced the difficulty. I put in the work. I just knew that I played with my heart and soul whenever I stepped on to the cricket field."

As the West Indies Test captain, Sammy failed, but it was not his fault, and at no time did he let down the people of the Caribbean. His post-match interviews were always marked, except in Kolkata, with respect for the board, and the game, and the opposition.

I believe that whatever the competition, that the best available players should play at all times, and although Sammy was the captain the last time out, I do not believe that he should be in the team this time around, not over Jason Holder, Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Russell, and, of course, Kieran Powell.

If Sammy was included, there just would not be enough places left for four of the five all-rounders, four specialist batsmen, wicketkeeper, one genuinely fast bowler, and one spin bowler which would make a balanced T20 team.

In all of this, these questions must be asked: where is the wicketkeeper in the team selected; and probably this should have been asked before, with Holder already in the squad, why is there a need for another captain; and if there is a need, if it cannot be Gayle, why not the experienced and the good and proven Pollard?

Or is it, what with Courtney Browne now the chairman of selectors, Joel Garner the manager of the team, Jason Holder the captain of the Test and 50-over teams, Kraigg Brathwaite the vice-captain of the Test team, Roddy Estwick the bowling coach, and Henderson Springer one of the additional coaches, it was simply, as good as they are, a move to crown another Barbadian?

In a team like the West Indies, people should always be wary of naming too many people from one country in charge of things. It smells of favouritism. As it does with Jamaica and the president of the board, Michael Muirhead as the CEO, Wavell Hinds as president of the West Indies Players' Association, and Wayne Lewis as the secretary.

I believe that the best players, wherever they come from, should always be selected to represent the West Indies. I am not sure, however, if I support so many people coming from one country to form a support group, regardless of how good they are, or may be.

It just does not look good for unity and for cooperation whenever this happens.

Good luck, Darren Sammy. From that day and that speech in Kolkata your days were numbered, and everybody knew it, and expected something to happen.