Colin E. H. Croft
There are two suggestions that are apropos for West Indies selectors’ biggest recent quandary:
Firstly, “If you only have lemons available, then you had better learn to make and enjoy lemonade!” and secondly, “Life is very difficult whenever you are caught between a rock and an especially hard place!”
Chairman Clive Lloyd, Courtney Browne, Courtney Walsh and Eldine Baptiste would certainly have preferred to have had that full, now aborted, India tour as a base for selecting this team to South Africa.
Additionally, having been robbed of that possibility when WI left India, WI’s selectors would then have loved to have had that second option, to use fully completed games from the new Professional Cricket League 4-day competition, before they sat down to list names to tour SA.
Neither of these became realities, so the selectors had, in a sense, to make lemonade with cold stones, since WI last played a Test, against Bangladesh, last September.
While it would be easy to name several of that team as regulars for the first part of the SA trip; Tests; other names that could have been in the mix if India had been completed fully, or WICB P-L 4-day competition was played before the Test touring team was selected, had to be left out.
Of that last WI Test team, only Leon Johnson, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Suleiman Benn and Test reserve Jason Holder were in India, since that tour started with ODI’s.
That aborted Indian tour has already put WI’s selectors and some players at great disadvantages!
Sensibly, those have been retained for SA’s Tests, presumably for differing reasons. With close enough examination, though, there seems to be camouflaged holes in that overall Test line-up for SA.
Quite worryingly, leading young WI batsman Darren Bravo is already a weird non-starter for Trinidad & Tobago in this weekend’s game v Barbados, a situation that should be addressed immediately.
WI’s selectors must have already known that they were taking a massive chance selecting him at all to tour SA, given recent reports of his strange absence at T&T Red Force’s preparations.
Someone from either West Indies Cricket Board or Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board must take overall responsibility of finding out exactly about Darren’s personal circumstances and disposition; to visit his home, or places that he frequents, as is normally done in sports, in places like real world USA.
It is not good enough, in our modern communicative times, in a small country of only about 2000 square miles, with a population of only 1.3 million, to shout “we have not heard from Darren Bravo.” Find him!
TTCB and WICB must be proactive in ensuring that Darren is okay and at least physically well. How psychologically organized and ready he is now is another matter. His physical well-being comes first!
Anyway, opener Kraigg Brathwaite has started well, in this same first game, with a first-day century for Barbados. His fellow recent Test players, Guyana’s Leon Johnson and Jamaica’s Jermaine Blackwood, have not fared well at all, especially given the very short preparation time WI has before that tour to SA.
Another troubling aspect must also be Jamaica’s Marlon Samuels, who looked majestic and fully ready during that short time WI were in India; 126 not out and 112 in two of three ODI’s played there. Now, per petty and infantile shenanigans in Jamaica, Samuels is not even playing for JA this weekend!
Something is seriously wrong here. Again, WICB must intervene immediately if this too is not to be misconstrued as another attempt, per T&T’s Denesh Ramdin contention, that victimization is fully afoot.
Crucial to WI’s bowling efforts for Tests in SA, Suleiman Benn is reportedly slightly injured, so he must be put in proverbial cotton-wool, while fast bowler Shannon Gabriel looks like he needs much more work.
Jerome Taylor has asked for time off this first game of the new PCL. Even with bowlers being able to recoup playing time better than batsmen, since bowlers can literally run themselves into productive shape, while batsmen have to bat themselves into form, Taylor needs to be ready too. His time is short!
Chris Gayle has been included in the tour team to SA, so one must believe that his seemingly chronic injury problem is in relatively good shape. After all, he muscled a tremendous blazing century last week in a T-20 game for SA franchise team Lions. However, concern must be there about his injury recurring.
With the rains around the Caribbean these next coming weeks, every cricket day is extremely vital now.
SA’s splendid bowling attack, projecting that team as best Test team in the world, would destroy any novices, nincompoops, incompetents or out-of-formers.
So, all recent WI batsmen have just a very short time, about three weekends, and games, to the end of November, to get themselves fully prepared for SA!
This 2014/5 Test, ODI and T-20-I series featuring WI and SA will be much harder for West Indies, but if WI can hold its own creditably, who knows, it could be SA who would be sucking on rocks! Enjoy!
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