Sep 03, 2010 Sports
By Sean Devers The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) last Friday offered Central Retainer Contracts for the period October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011 to 15 players while 10 others were offered developmental contracts. Thirty-year-old Guyana Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, a veteran of 83 Tests and 153 ODIs was surprisingly not among the 25 contracted players despite averaging over 40 in Tests, ODIs and First-Class cricket. The WICB, in a release stated that “Big hitting Kieron Pollard who has performed exceedingly well in the shortest form of the game has been offered a Central Retainer Contract for the first time. Also making their debut on the list of Central Retainer Contracts is the Trinidadian pair of Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo, Dominican off-spinner Shane Shillingford, Jamaican left arm spinner Nikita Miller and Grenadian pacer Nelon Pascal. Of the 14 contracted players for the period October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Denesh Ramdin, Jerome Taylor, Narsingh Deonarine, Dave Bernard and Travis Dowlin have not had their Central Retainer Contracts renewed. Barath, Daren Bravo, Miller, Pascal and Devon Smith have been moved up to Central Retainer Contract offers from Developmental Contracts According to Chairman of the WICB selectors Clyde Butts, Sarwan and Taylor’s limited availability for the West Indies over the past year due to injuries weighed heavily against them. Sarwan and Deonarine’s general levels of fitness were also deemed unsatisfactory. Ramdin and Dowlin’s performances over the past year have been less than favorable in the view of the selectors. “I think at some time the Board and the selectors would have had to tell the public that “Hey, it’s not business as usual”. The Board has taken a stand where we want to see the players improve in their standards and their fitness in cricket as well. At some point we have to make a change, the Guyanese Butts said. While Sarwan has not played a Test match since December due to injury, the same can be said for Barath, the talented 20-year-old Trinidad and Tobago opener. T&T’s Rampaul was also on the injured list but has been rewarded with a contract. The elegant Sarwan has 15 Test centuries and along with Shiv Chanderpaul and Skipper Chris Gayle are the only real International quality batsmen in the West Indies team with Test averages above 40. For all Pollard’s T20 hype, Sarwan, who like Chanderpaul are not ideally suited for the T20 game, is a more successful T20 batsman for the West Indies than the Trinidadian and sources close to the WICB says that Sarwan’s willingness to stand up for the players and his close ties with the WIPA President Dinanath Ramnarine contributed to his omission from the list. It was only in June this year that Sarwan was collecting the West Indies Player of the Year award in Trinidad after being voted Guyana’s Cricketer of the Year last December and despite his injuries his was still able to register an ODI century this year. Sarwan, who scored a masterful 68 in Guyana’s win against T&T at Providence in their last practice match on Sunday, told Kaieteur Sport yesterday that the contract snub would not be a distraction to his Champions League preparations. “To be honest I was not surprised (at not getting the contract renewed)….I knew for about three weeks now and even before, I was reading between the lines. My focus is on ensuring our team represents Guyana and the entire region in the best possible way in South Africa,” Sarwan said. “We (Guyana) have a job to do in South Africa and not getting a contract is not a distraction. They (WICB) made their decision and they must have their reasons. I continue to be fully committed to representing the West Indies and at this point I am fitter than I was a year ago,” said Sarwan who is encamped with the Guyana CLT20 team and undergoing rigorous training sessions with former West Indies Coach Roger Harper. The dashing right-hander said he is looking forward to doing well in South Africa and was available to play for the West Indies in Sri Lanka. “I was pleased with my form in the last practice game against T&T and if the selectors and the Board think I am good enough to make the team it’s always an honor to play for the West Indies. But you must remember that there is little you can do about things that are not in your hands,” Sarwan added. Sarwan was among the players that withdrew their services against Bangladesh last year due to another contractual dispute between WIPA and the WICB and has played a big role in getting the players support for WIPA in their battle for justice against the Board. This latest decision could be seen as punishment for his close ties with WIPA. “Yeah I am disappointed that it seems I am most times singled out for special attention by the Board. But I am a professional and I love what I do so I will continue to play to my best for as long as I continue to enjoy playing cricket. Nobody wants to get injured and miss out on doing the thing you love. At times I get the impression that some people believe that I deliberately get injured and that could be more frustrating than the injury,” Sarwan said. When contacted the WICB said “the Team Management, Selection Committee and the WICB are concerned about Sarwan’s extremely indifferent attitude and sporadic approach towards fitness, particularly in recent years. “It is the considered view of the Selection Committee, following consultations with the specialists in the Team Management, that Ramnaresh’s less than satisfactory and fluctuating fitness levels have directly contributed to multiple injuries thereby causing him to be unavailable for selection to the West Indies team,” new WICB Official Imran Khan explained. He said that due to these multiple injuries, Ramnaresh was available for 2 Test matches and a total of 13 international matches for the West Indies in the past year which is less than half of the total number of matches played by the West Indies for the period. “Additionally, following the tour of Australia of 2009, Ramnaresh was one of three players who the WICB formally wrote to regarding their consistently low levels of fitness. In Ramnaresh’s case, he then spent a significant period of the tour trying to rectify his unacceptable fitness levels. Reports from the Team Management are that while one of the three players written to, improved his fitness considerably the fitness levels of the other two – Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine – remained below par despite the official notice,” Khan added. Khan disclosed that Sarwan has been informed by a member of the Selection Committee of the reasons for him not being offered a Central Retainer Contract. The WICB is hopeful that Ramnaresh uses this as motivation to significantly improve his overall fitness in an effort to assist in avoiding injury so that he can increase his availability to the West Indies team. When asked about Pollard’s poor average for the West Indies Khan said that Pollard’s performances at International and other levels (Trinidad & Tobago and the other teams he represented around the world) were considered by the Selection Committee thus resulting in the Committee’s decision to recommend him for a Central Retainer Contract. Khan opined that once fit, Sarwan, as one of the best batsmen in the Region should be on any West Indies team playing a vital role with the bat.
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