Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Laurie Foster | Ignore Law at your own peril

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Nowadays when the subject of West Indies Test cricket is raised, there are many identifiable reasons for its demise. However, there are those who still cherish the game and the brilliance our men have brought to it that the longing for a return to glory is alive and well. That can only be achieved if conscientious effort is put into it to improve things from the depths to which they have fallen. The powers that be, as well as the public, need to take a look at the issues as they surface and at least make an attempt to apply a remedy.

Despite the effort by West Indies cricket coach, the Australian Stuart Law, to keep the squad intact, the selectors have dropped Kyle Hope, replacing him with Vincentian Sunil Ambris, for the opening match of the New Zealand tour, which starts on November 30. Foster's Fairplay, as expressed in last week's column, supported Law in that it was deemed necessary to try a different route to get to where the team needs to go. The thought was, and still is, that there had been "chopping and changing" in recent times but to little effect in terms of series won, except a few days ago against the lowliest of them - Zimbabwe.

Neither Law's request to give his first experience with the former set of players the benefit of a longer run nor the introduction of duration of tenure contracts, as suggested by Foster's Fairplay, received a friendly ear.

With the selectors having decided to go for Ambris, who has two first-class centuries recently tucked away, others certainly could have come up for the axe. Shane Dowrich, were it not for a face-saving century in the drawn Zimbabwe test, and Jermaine Blackwood, could have been considered ready to take the count. The latter continues to survive courtesy of a 100 and a not-out 90 odd in his early career, and another undefeated 79 in the Birmingham test against England in the summer.

So how will Captain Holder handle the inclusion of Ambris in the 15-man squad? Does he pick him for the first test, or will he go for the young Guyanese Shimron Hetmyer, who has campaigned at that level before but without success? However, the victorious West Indies Youth captain, who warmed the bench during the England tour, could not have done his cause any harm with a century in the lead-up to the New Zealand encounter.

Another matter for consideration is, how will Law take the dropping of the elder Hope? The number three batsman had been having scores marginally better than his England sequence, and the coach might have been encouraged in his views by the apparent rise in form. Will he see this move as an endorsement of the critics who seem to think that he was running out of his lane when he made the "give them some more time" plea? Could this adversely affect his long-term arrangement with the board?

Australians are proud people and no less so of their cricket. Unless there is a turnaround of West Indies fortunes, one can expect a souring of the relations between the board and Law, who could feel that his opinion should be of some value. It might be felt that one alteration to the batting line-up with big brother Hope out means nothing, but that feeling should be subdued. Who knows if Law had him as the linchpin to prove that his views as to "keeping them together" were sound and ought to have been implemented?

There is another concern. Technical Director Jimmy Adams has been quiet since taking up the reigns. One would appreciate hearing his voice on this or any other matter. Is it not time, given the tottering state of the region's cricket, that something different be adduced to make even a partial recovery? Fixing it will be a major exercise - one not easily fathomed - but the fans deserve some positive interim measures.

Go, Jimmy, go!

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