Time to drop Campbell and Blackwood – Mohammed
With huge doubt still surrounding the upcoming home series between hosts West Indies and the visiting South African side slated for June 2021, the topic that has continued to resonate throughout cricketing circles is the make-up of the next Test team if and when cricket gets under way.
The West Indies’ last outing was a nil-all series draw against Sri Lanka in Antigua, and the Phil Simmons-coached side seemed to have been showing marked improvements, going back to their two-nil series win against Bangladesh earlier in the year.
With a number of the new players, the likes of Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers and Joshua Da Silva looking the part at the top level, regional cricket commentator and Trinidadian journalist, Fazeer Mohammed, believes the selectors should look elsewhere, where the selection of Jamaican opener John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood are concerned.
Campbell has had a mediocre introduction to Test cricket since his debut in 2019, scoring 640 runs in 15 Tests for an average of 23.70.
In the last four series, in which Campbell batted in nine Test matches, the St Mary native has scored just 342 runs in 18 innings, with just one half-century against New Zealand.
With new captain Kraigg Brathwaite solidifying his role at the top of the order, Mohammed believes it is time for the selectors to go back for Shai Hope to partner the skipper, to give the regional side more stability in the opening position.
“Campbell’s mediocre record speaks for itself. It cannot be argued that he has not been given enough opportunity to prove himself, and he continues to be found wanting,” said Mohammed.
“Most notable was the repetitive manner of his dismissals in the Tests against Sri Lanka, which suggests that opponents have worked him out and he was not able to adjust his style or technique to effectively counteract them,” added Mohammed.
Despite putting up decent returns coming into the new year, middle-order batsman Blackwood has struggled in the last two series against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
A 68 in the first innings of the first Test in Bangladesh was all Blackwood could gloat about, but scores of two, four, 18 and 18 against Sri Lanka is evidence enough for Mohammed, that Blackwood should also make way for either Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks or Roston Chase.
“Blackwood is an interesting case. For someone with so much stroke-making ability, the consistency demanded of top-class players continues to elude him. It is not so much the matter of him getting out cheaply, but how he often gets out, which demeans his status as a Test batsman,” said Mohammed.
“He has been dropped several times in the seven years since his Test debut, and while it will be considered harsh to drop him after decent overall series in England and New Zealand and being part of a successful campaign in Bangladesh, if the West Indies are to continue on the long journey upward, players like Blackwood must learn to value their wickets or find themselves perpetually on the periphery of selection,” he added.