Colin E. H. Croft
Twenty nine last March 13, Denesh Ramdin’s ascendency to West Indies captaincy comes similarly to how Darren Sammy became team captain too.
Simply, right now, there is no-one else who can be comprehensively considered for that role! No one!
But, in Ramdin’s case, there is no doubt as to if he deserves his place in the team or not, ala Sammy. Denesh is easily the best wicket-keeper in the Caribbean now.
56 Tests, four centuries, 161 dismissals behind the stumps, Ramdin has the right experience in Tests to command respect and demand excellence, but his batting average in Tests, 27.25, must improve!
There were other considerations for the position.
Chris Gayle, 35 September next, is on his way out of Test cricket. Test No. 1 v NZ, at Sabina Park, his home ground in Kingston, next month, will be his 100th, so Gayle’s candidature would not have lasted more than a few tours.
Shiv Chanderpaul, 40 come August, has been there; done that; did not enjoy it. He would not want West Indies captaincy again.
Shiv is simply a thinking batting machine. Like Gayle, he too is on the downslope anyway.
Dwayne Bravo, 31 next October, will see more appearances in the Test team, now that Sammy, as bowling all-rounder, and especially captain, will not be playing Tests anymore.
Bravo, though, will have to either put up or shut up for his Test place.
Only three other possible candidates existed – Kirk Edwards, Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo.
Two are young enough to take West Indies into the next decade and beyond, as required.
I would not be surprised if one of these succeed Ramdin whenever his tenure evaporates or expires.
Edwards, though, who will be 30 next November, just had a run-in with Barbados’ cricket authorities during Caribbean’s 50 overs tournament in January last, and was promptly sent home for indiscipline. Despite that, he did somehow still manage to be selected to play against England in Antigua & Barbuda in ODI’s soon afterwards, only to fail miserably.
Edwards will have reform his cricket and himself, regain composure and confidence, making runs like Guyana’s proverbial rain, before he can even be considered for anything like captaincy.
Kraigg Brathwaite, 22 next December, is not a bad bet for the next skipper, post-Ramdin, as he has been allowed much scope by West Indies selectors to make runs and cement his place in the Test team.
Unfortunately, he is ultra-slow at the crease, almost a stroke-less wonder. He has to work diligently on his production rate, now only 32%, to worry opposing teams.
Since Brathwaite has captained Barbados reasonably well, West Indies could have superimposed him into the captaincy position, as South Africa did with that other left-hander, the mighty Graeme Smith.
“Smithy” was also sent into the deep end as captain of South Africa at that exact age, and not only did he swim well with the sharks, but he managed to corral or destroy most of them too.
What a colossus Graeme Smith has been for South Africa!
If Brathwaite could put together enterprising, energetic, consistently big scores, with at least 50% strike-rate in Tests, then he could well be a West Indies fixture and next Test captain after Ramdin.
Darren Bravo, only 25 now, is also one for the future.
Indeed, he should have been one for all of our present, commanding a place in every format for West Indies. His last sojourn, to New Zealand last year, coupled with his complete collapse as a batsman in 2014’s regional four-day tournament, suggest that he has to restart, at ground zero, as regards his batting.
Only after consistent run-making can Darren be considered for anything!
So, simply, it was Ramdin, by default, or no-one else!
Denesh has to be as aggressive in WI planning and production as he has been for T&T.
While he has led his country relatively well but sporadically in 1st Class games, it has been more in the shortened formats that his home team had done well under his leadership.
This appointment will certainly be a massive challenge for Denesh, even if he is now more reliable and confident, especially with his wicket-keeping skills much enhanced.
Unlike Clive Lloyd, who was given captaincy to India at almost exactly the same age, almost 30, in 1974/5, and had a nucleus of greats in his team – Roy Fredericks, Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards, Alvin Kallicharran, Deryck Murray, Lance Gibbs and Andy Roberts – Ramdin has no such luxuries in his.
Denesh will have to use much more guile than Lloyd, Viv, even Richie Richardson, who had a handy pace attack – Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop, Patrick Patterson, Winston and Kenny Benjamin.
It will be tougher for Ramdin, as he has no such bowling attack to rely on, even if Sunil Narine, Jason Holder, Jerome Taylor and Miguel Cummings might be called up, for bowlers win matches, batsmen save them!
But if anyone can do well, inspire his team, as captain in this present atmosphere of West Indies cricket, then Denesh Ramdin can, especially with his tenacity and tastes for success!
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