Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | Windies selectors still getting it wrong

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Shai Hope waves his bat to spectators at Sabina Park after scoring a half century during the fifth ODI against India at Sabina Park in June.

This West Indies cricket team has once again, managed to give its remaining ardent fans another round of heartaches. A likely Twenty20 (T20) victory and a come-from-behind, highly unpredictable win in the second of three tests, was followed by a total shut out in the four one-day internationals (ODIs) in which weather conditions permitted a result. The feeling persists that all those bottom-rung spots in the various performance standings will not go away anytime soon.

However, there are supporters who refuse to abandon the team and cling to any vestige of hope coming from the recent series. Save for the T20 version, the fear is that the Windies will soon cease to exist as a cricketing force. There was a time when the team started to decline, where it was felt that this was merely a slide and that new talent coupled with formidable administration could apply the brakes. This has not happened, and the bright sparks that surfaced, albeit on rare occasions, were soon extinguished.

Foster's Fairplay asks the question. What did the English summer provide as a platform to suggest that there could be a path back to a brighter day? It would be revelling in a fool's paradise to suggest that there could be a quick return to the glory days of ferociously fast bowlers and stout-hearted batsmen whose scintillating shots struck fear into the minds of their opponents.

 

There is Hope

 

As a look is taken at where we go from here, there is a lot of talk about the aptly named younger Hope first-named Shai. To give this shotmaker ample opportunity to fulfil his unquestionable potential, all thoughts of his wearing the wicketkeeper's gloves, even in the one-dayers, should be jettisoned. The selectors, however, need to find a proper wicketkeeper. There has to be someone better than Shane ,Dowrich whose performance in the test matches was well below par. Despite Hope's blossoming ability, he is still learning his craft.

The Windies camp could well have taken heart from the bowling of Alzarri Joseph in the fourth ODI when he snared five wickets. However, he was extremely disappointing in the first Test at Edgbaston, but he too, at age 20, is young to the game, and one can only hope that the hard road he has to travel will take him to the top.

To quote a respected analyst, who prefers to remain anonymous, "Evin Lewis is obviously a good batsman. The selectors have pigeonholed him into being a limited-overs cricketer, which shows up their lack of understanding as to the qualities of the people they are being asked to select." This comment is in keeping with the thoughts of Foster's Fairplay, and whenever the selectors wake up to the reality, it will be a sign that they are approaching the world of sanity.

The move to have Jason Holder as the team leader could have been a sound one, but how much has he lived up to expectations? Again, reference is made to that respected analyst, "If Holder is going to concentrate purely on his batting, is he good enough to make the team? In fact, in my opinion, he isn't (good enough) as an all-rounder, but they (the selectors) decided they needed a young, steady head to wear the crown, so we'll see how that goes. He averages 1.7 wickets per test as a bowler ... that is very poor, and his batting isn't consistent enough to consider him capable of winning test matches with that discipline." The effectiveness of an all-rounder is measured in his ability to win a Test match using either role on a consistent basis. This is not the case with Holder, and holding on to his position could be a bit tenuous, to put it mildly.

Kraigg Brathwaite, at the top of the order, and Kyle Hope, had contrasting performances. The former has earned an extended run, but for the latter, his might well have ended.

Roston Chase also should be allowed another chance to build on his centuries against Pakistan, as well as to add some bite to his off spin bowling.

As all this is argued, the West Indies team continues to struggle.

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