By Sean Devers
Former Guyana and West Indies Captain Ramnaresh ‘Ronnie’ Sarwan, speaking with Alexis Jordon on the Jamaican Sports Max Zone TV programme on Friday Evening says he was ‘framed out’ of West Indies cricket.
“Throughout my International career I never felt the stress of people wanting you out of a system. I have always played with joy and a smile on my face and I started to lose that.
And from that time I kinda lose it mentally. If we were playing in Trinidad, my mind was in Australia.
Mentally I was framed out and once I got to that stage it was very difficult for me to come back,” said Sarwan who was appointed Assistant Coach of the Jamaica Tallawahs for the last two seasons of the CPL.
Sarwan, who turned 40 last week Tuesday, said while some people were vindictive and said negative things about him, which got back to him, he does not hold grudges against those players or against the Board.
Sarwan says he is willing to contribute to West Indies Cricket by being involved in any way he can help.
During the Presidency of Dave Cameron, Sarwan was dropped for lack of fitness but later won a TT$14 Million law suit against the Regional Board on the same issue.
During the Sports Max interview, Sarwan spoke of his Primary school days and how the late Mr Headley and Miss Caroline (care-takers and Coaches at Stella Marris Primary school) shaped his formative years in the sport.
“During the break I saw a group of guys practicing to be picked for the school team and I asked to join in. After I had batted I heard Mr Headley call the late William Jeffery (Coach at the National Sports Council) and told him ‘I have found one’ and I was taken to join the YMCA where Table Tennis, Karate and Cricket was played,” recounted Sarwan.
Sarwan was born in the Essequibo Island of Wakanaam and was viewed as young prodigy since he moved to Campbellville in Georgetown as a toddler and reeled off back-to-back centuries for his Primary School Stella Marris.
Sarwan spoke about the influence the late NSC Coach William Jeffery had in those early years when he would play Table Tennis (against National players) and Cricket at the YMCA.
He then joined the famous GCC where players like the late Dr Harold Dhanraj, Richard Jodah, Paul Persaud and Carl Hooper along with the late Desmond Watkins, popularly known as ‘Watto’, aided his initial development.
“Going to GCC for a youngster back then was like going to Lords or the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Carl (Hooper) saw me batting in the nets at 14 and told me I would play Test cricket. At that time Carl was using the Slazenger brand and sent gears for me,” remembered Sarwan.
A year later Hooper played a major role in a 15-year-old Sarwan making his Senior team debut against T&T at Bourda, while only in his first of four years playing U-19 cricket for Guyana.
Sarwan said when Shiv Chanderpaul made his Test debut as a 19-year-old at Bourda in 1994, he was 14 and watched his club mate bat that day.
“If I wanted my son to play cricket I would want him to have Shiv’s temperament, dedication to batting and his tremendous work ethic. I sometimes think the bowling machine must be tired of seeing Shiv,” Sarwan said with a laugh.
Sarwan spoke of the help and encouragement he got from Clayton Lambert, Barrington Browne and Keith Semple when he made the Guyana senior team. His parents and close friends also supported him.
Sarwan made his Test debut against Pakistan on May 18, 2000 in the second Test of the series and finished unbeaten on 84.
“I was disappointed not to make my debut in the first Test in Trinidad but I had made a century against Pakistan U-19s in 1996 and I knew the conditions there. On my debut I was dropped on seven but when the butterflies went away I settled down and batted well after that, I have always been a team person and always wanted to win. If you play for yourself and do well but don’t try to win how will you be remembered?” Sarwan asked.
Many times, especially in ODIs, Sarwan would sacrifice a century for his team’s victory.
Sarwan is one of 37 players to captain the West Indies in Test Cricket and led the side four times.
Sarwan feels that people have to have an appreciation for plyers with different cultures in one dressing room.
“It was challenging, since it brought players from different Cultures together but the good thing for me is that I had played with most of them at the U-19 level,” informed Sarwan who played for West Indies, Gloucestershire, Guyana, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Kings XI Punjab, Leicestershire, Stanford Superstars and Trinbago Knight Riders.
Sarwan also informed that he had not spoken Chris Gayle since the Jamaican’s outburst on Social Media calling him a snake.
“No I have not spoken to him since then and there is no reason to. He had his say, I had my say and like everything else, that’s now behind me,” revealed Sarwan.
Sarwan gave new CWI President Ricky Skerritt’s Administration, which is organising more ‘A’ team tours, a passing grade but would like to see better facilities in the Caribbean to produce more players who can produce at the International level.
“The young players don’t get enough experience to be ready for International cricket. I think the system we have in place is OK but I think there is room for improvement. I think if we have camps for the First-Class teams around the region I think that would be able not only help to improve them mentally but also technically so they would be better prepared for international cricket,” said Sarwan, one of 52 Guyanese to play Test Cricket.
“Like I have always said, once you have a very sound and strong first Class level you would obviously be able to go on to make the West Indies team and to be better equipped to perform at the International level,” said Sarwan.
He feels the future looks good with lots of young players coming through and believes West Indies can be competitive in England if they play as a unit and try to be as consistent as possible.
“I will forever be grateful for Cricket. Because off cricket I have gained recognition and fame but more importantly cricket has allowed me to make contacts and meet people from all over the world and develop strong friendships,” continued Sarwan.
“I am lucky to have married a good woman and am enjoying Fatherhood and being a good husband. She puts up with all my traveling and I have three kids and all of their names start with A,” said the proprietor of Fitness Gym 53 in Providence, named after his West Indies shirt number.
Sarwan says being involved in the CPL will give him an opportunity to see the young West Indies and should do well to prepare them to play all formats.
Sarwan played the first of his 220 First-Class matches as a 15 year-old to become the youngest First-Class player in the West Indies before making a magnificent 84 against Pakistan in Barbados at 19, while at age 28 years, 228 days he became the youngest West Indian to reach 5000 runs when he scored a century against England in Jamaica in 2009.
The elegant Sarwan played his last Test against India in 2011 at a venue where he announced his arrival on the Test arena, his final ODI was in 2013 when West Indies opposed India and the next year he said goodbye to first-Class Cricket when Leicestershire played Worcestershire in the English County Championships.
During his career which was plagued by injuries, he scored 5,842 runs at an average of 40.1 from 87 Tests with 15 centuries and a highest score of 291 against England, equalling the highest score for a West Indian in England made by Sir Vivian Richards. His Test career spanned between March 2000 and June 2011.
After registering his first Test century against Bangladesh in 2002 after 28 matches, his next ton came in a match that has been etched in memory. West Indies successfully chased down 418 against the then number one ranked Test team, Australia in Antigua, a feat that has not been replicated as yet.
Sarwan scored 5,804 runs from 181 ODIs including five tons an averaged 42.67, while he has two fifties in 18 T2OIs.
In First-Class cricket, Sarwan has scored 13,405 runs with 33 centuries between 1996-2014, while he led Guyana to the title in inaugural Stanford T20 tournament in 2006 in Antigua and the Caribbean T20 title in 2010 in Trinidad as Guyana qualified for the Champions League in South Africa the same year. Sarwan also played in the 2008 IPL.
The elegant right-hander last played competitive cricket in 2016 when he played two matches in CPL for Trinidad &TobagoKnight Riders against the Patriots in Florida and against the Guyana Amazon Warriors at Providence.
In April last year ‘Ronnie’ was invited to work with the West Indies team ahead of the Tri-Nations One-day International Series in Ireland and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales and again in September last year when he and Brian Lara were brought in to share their knowledge and experiences with Jason Holder’s side in a camp ahead of the first Test against India in Antigua.
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