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Ramdin’s ready for full West Indies responsibility

Earl Best watches the Limacol CPL and draws conclusions about the West Indian captaincy:

I am obsessed with the idea of Denesh “Shotta” Ramdin as West Indies captain. No. Go back and read that again. Not West Indies Test captain but West Indies captain. Period.

Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago wicket keeper Denesh Ramdin.
Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago wicket keeper Denesh Ramdin.

This ailment is so serious that it’s giving me nightmares. Let me share the latest one, which jolted me, covered in cold sweat, out of sleep in the course of the night after I had watched Darren Bravo slam Ronsford Beaton’s last ball high over long-on to earn full points for the Trinidad and Tobago (thanks, Madam PM) Red Steel.

It is Wednesday August 27 and the West Indies are playing Bangladesh in St Kitts in the only T20 fixture scheduled during the six-match series that began on August 20. For some reason, Ramdin is not playing today; his place is taken by young Nicholas Pooran, the T&T stumper with the talent of a veteran but the temperament of a teenager. (It had to be a dream; the anti-pro-action West Indian administrators would never think of giving a promising youngster his first chance at glory at home against easy opposition).

Pooran smashes his first ball over extra-cover for a six. Off his second, he attempts a reverse sweep.

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Sitting in the dugout, Ramdin is manifestly livid. Before the start of the next over, the television producer shows him pulling a sheet of paper out of his pocket and holding it aloft for all the world to see.

“YEAH NP,” it screams, “STOP THAT SHIT NAH.”

I don’t know what Sigmund Freud would have made of that dream but with a long steups my neighbour suggested that I should play 36 in that day’s Play Whe. Unfazed by the would-be insult, I tried to make sense of what was in my subconscious.

Throughout the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) versus the Red Steel match, I had paid close attention to everything the new West Indies captain did. His Warriors had come out on the losing end but he was entirely blameless.

His team lost for two reasons: (1) To the question, “Do we have a chance in this game?” the two Bravo brothers were clearly determined not to take no for an answer (2) When the crucial chance came, Christopher Barnwell grassed it. Barnwell, a splendid fieldsman!

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo (left) gets fired up. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo (left) gets fired up.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

But Ramdin, crucially, didn’t lose his cool. Or his control of the team. He was the arch-conductor, orchestrating a performance that perhaps deserved better but was bettered on the night.

Just as Ramdin’s hard-hitting captain’s knock of 84 off 45 balls initially put his team into a match-winning position, Dwayne Bravo’s 67 off 42 made victory possible for his team. Without it, the match-winning last-ball six from Bravo the Younger would never have been possible.

What is more is that the Red Steel skipper’s contribution came in circumstances where anything less would almost certainly have meant a second successive defeat at the hands of the Warriors, making the difficulty rating considerably higher than Ramdin’s. Still, whether batting first or batting second, scoring six sixes and six fours off 45 balls is no mean feat.

Even in defeat, therefore, the GAW captain could feel as proud of his leadership as Bravo the Elder did of his.

Which brings us back to the meaning of the dream/nightmare.

It seems to me that, at least in the GAW uniform if not yet in the maroon, Ramdin exudes a new confident authority as undisputed leader. Often in the course of the T&T innings, I saw his Pakistani pro Mohammad Hafeez come over to offer what looked like tactical advice. Ramdin seemed to listen politely and then no less politely disregard it.

Now captain and leader of the regional XI, the boy who successfully led age-group WI teams before graduation to the First XI is emphatically his own man. Maybe it is that he has looked backwards and seen that speaking truth to power (YEAH VIV, TALK NAH) has not seriously hampered his progress or prevented his promotion. How much easier would it be then to speak truth to potential?

Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago cricketer Denesh Ramdin makes his point to former legend Sir Viv Richards. (Copyright AFP 2014/Andrew Yates)
Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago cricketer Denesh Ramdin makes his point to former legend Sir Viv Richards.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Andrew Yates)

Pooran’s playing the fool and people are afraid to tell him so? Well, not I. After all, what have I got to lose?

Should the dream situation ever arise, one would hope for rather more diplomacy, more tact; the language of “YEAH, NP, STOP THAT SHOT NAH!” is inoffensive and the message no less clear. But I want to feel certain that Ramdin would take decisive action whether the offender were the veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul or the new boy on the block, Pooran.

And I want to feel certain that neither the West Indian selectors nor the coaching staff will have any problem with the 29-year-old wielding his new authority in the proper way. The selectors must open their eyes and notice how the skipper’s attitudes compare with those of the other office-holders as well as the other three—or more—contenders on display.

That is why I think it is useful, not to say necessary, for the selectors to look at what is on offer in the CPL as well as listen to what is being said. With only half of the group stage already completed, we already know that neither Marlon Samuels’ winless Antigua Hawksbills nor Darren Sammy’s pointless St Lucia Zouks will be in contention for the 2014 title.

Who’s to blame? We’ve heard neither excuses nor explanation from the Hawksbills, who appear to have accepted that they are simply not up to par. Not so Zouks’ coach Matthew Maynard who, after his side went down to the Red Steel by nine wickets last weekend, declared that, “We’re not playing well as a group.”

His captain concurred, saying that, “We’re too inconsistent. It’s just Sohail Tanvir who’s performing with the bat and the ball.”

He added that the problem was not “a matter of talent but getting it to click on the field.”

Photo: West Indies T20 captain Darren Sammy makes a point.
Photo: West Indies T20 captain Darren Sammy makes a point.

He stopped short of saying whose responsibility it is to get the team “to click on the field.” He didn’t need to; it’s a leadership problem with which we have grown familiar at West Indies level.

Sammy has so far tallied 77 runs in four innings and in ten overs taken one wicket for 90 runs.

So strike Sammy, strike Samuels (182 runs from 6 inns but 1 wkt for 94 in 12 overs). What does that leave us?

As things stand, there is little to choose between the top four teams who have already contrived to lap the aforementioned winless and pointless bottom two. But I am going to stick my neck out and say that in a week’s time, we’re going to be able to also strike off Keiron Pollard (60 runs from 5 inns and 3 wkts for 65 runs from 7 overs) and his Barbados Tridents who, despite Dwayne Smith’s impressive form which has so far produced two centuries and an aggregate of 248 runs, are going to find themselves well off the pace.

Their next three matches are against the Zouks, the Tallawahs and the Red Steel in that order. On current form, they can hardly hope for more than two points from those encounters unless the skipper produces a couple of the extraordinary innings of which we know him to be capable.

And even if he does, as we have seen, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get across the line on any given night.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago batsman Kieron Pollard gets excited while on duty for the Mumbai Indians.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago batsman Kieron Pollard gets excited while on duty for the Mumbai Indians.

So if we are going on current CPL form, Pollard is going to be hard-pressed to earn a place on the starting XI, let alone be considered for the captaincy.

But the issue, let us not forget, is leadership. And in that area, the Tallawahs, led by the ex-captain, the Red Steel, with the ODI captain at the helm, and the Amazon Warriors, who are under the baton of the Test captain, are well ahead of the rest.

Just two months short of his 36th birthday, Christopher Gayle has been there and has done that; you can be sure that, with his ample powers on the wane, even if the selectors were minded to recall him to lead, he’d decline the offer.

So I close with an appeal to the selectors to be nice to Dwayne. Let us allow him to take his rightful place on the Test XI which is where he really wants—and deserves—to be.

And demand the ODI mantle as a quid pro quo.

And while we are at it, let us also be nice to Darren—not Bravo, Sammy. Let us put him gently out to pasture—which is arguably where he deserves now to be –thus putting him out of his misery.

What reason can there be to retain three different captains for the three different formats? Has the Test captain’s tally of 175 runs from five innings not left no doubt in any mind that he packs the punch the shortest format needs?

Photo: Denesh Ramdin (left) and Dwayne Bravo (centre) appeal for a catch while on Trinidad and Tobago cricket duty.
Photo: Denesh Ramdin (left) and Dwayne Bravo (centre) appeal while on Trinidad and Tobago cricket duty.

Let us, therefore, pass the mantle to Denesh whose shoulders are now broad enough, we are now clear, to bear the full weight of the leadership responsibilities.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. I will wait and see if his Captaincy would affect his performance on the field, and if he can appreciate criticism now.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more, Kirk. And the argument that most of the other international teams have three captains takes no account of the specificity of the West Indies; no other international team comprises representatives from half a dozen – and more! – sovereign nations. So there!

  3. I think the team should have one Captain, regardless of format. And that person should be able to adjust styles based on which version of the game happens to be going on. I never liked the idea of different captains for different formats. It is the same basic game, it is the same team generally. The various captain selection hurts the team more than help it.

  4. Ramdin has proven that he is the best man for the job; however I am not too sure about all three formats. I’d like to see Sammy remain as captain for the T20 format because he brings a scintillating chemistry to the game and to the team that Ramdin lacks. True, Ramdin is not as gregarious as Sammy is, but he is a bit too too static and lacks the presence that Sammy has on the field. So for the Test and One Day’s, yes, he is my pick.

  5. A cricket match is played in the MINDS of the opposing captains. It follows, therefore, that so long as the XI is a TEAM and not a SIDE, you might say that it is only relevant who is actually the captain to the extent that that person is responsible for ensuring that the team works like a single solid unit.
    Watching Ramdin “conduct” the Guyana Amazons, I feel certain that, when HE holds the baton, we shall hear magnificent music from the West Indian orchestra, whether we’re playing in a modest chapel or in a massive cathedral.

  6. Reminds me of Germany in Brazil.When other teams were out feteing,they were training.

  7. ramdin is a good skipper. period.

  8. One of my favourite players since Lara’s era was Sarwan. It is so sad and bewildering to see how his career petered out.

  9. Ok, stand corrected, but Clive was a seroius man who meant business

  10. That reminds me… Remember the first act under Lara and Hooper? To cut down the intensity of the West Indies’ physical training.
    That should go down as a symbolic marker in West Indies. It was the start of the new era of player power. And we see where that got us.
    Player power is fine if they realise their responsibility to everything in their power to win matches. Not just to make their lives more comfortable.

  11. Yes. You’re right that Viv would have needed new motivational tricks. I wonder how his love for physically collaring underperforming players would have worked with the modern day professionals… Maybe WIPA might have protested its own captain!

  12. I do agree however that Lara’s practice ethic wasn’t the best for sure.

  13. There was also the sense of us versus them at the time of Viv. The need to prove the West Indies could prevail and dominate the colonial’s game. That spirit is long gone.

    I can also argue that the insular behavior was well established in Lara’s time in a much more destructive manner than Lloyd’s era.

  14. I understand your point Mark De Silva. I don’t know the technical side well enough to argue either! 🙂

  15. But when you look at the ability to marshall the dressing room and inspire players, I feel Viv was terrific. So was Lloyd.
    Lara was a thinker of the game and the players revered him for his ability. But I don’t think he had a good work ethic for a captain, so he didn’t get enough out of his team.
    You can look at a comparison between Latapy and Yorke as captains. Players adored Latapy and tried to please him. But he was not the guy who lead from the training ground.
    Yorke was not as popular. But he worked hard and the rest of the squad followed because they figured that was the way to succeed.
    Yorke made an average team better. I don’t think Latapy or Lara did in the same way although their individual brilliance would occasionally turn a result.

  16. Totally agree with one solid leader, but it used to be like that b4 T20 and the only soccessful captain, in my view was Clive Lloyd, and that was a long time ago. We also need for some of our players to leave their egos at home when they represent us

  17. Ye L, such a decision might in the end come down if Ramdin feels he can personally handle it

  18. The reason for me is the 20/20 is a more fast pace game and I don’t think its a good idea to have a captain who’s game type is slowing it down.

  19. You make some good points Colin and Savitri. Perhaps they should leave T20 apart and unify the Test and ODI jobs. Although that can be my bias there!
    Definitely, the WICB would have to consider if Ramdin WANTS the additional stress and whether he is likely to be able to handle it.
    If he is capable, I see pluses in the West Indies players having one solid leader and voice to take them forward.

  20. I think test matches dead lol. But two captains yes because of the pace of the different games.

  21. Mark De Silva, I agree that Sammy and Bravo have been doing well with their respective teams. But, if possible, I can see some merit in having one captain too.
    It must be odd for someone to be the leader and then a member of the pack with some of the same players around him in the dressing room.

  22. Big responsibility on him and if any of the teams don’t perform we’ll all be asking for his head. His own performance and development could suffer

  23. Given the topic of discussion, I thought this was interesting and relevant.

  24. I certainly think Ramdin is more than capable of being captain across all 3 formats. But when we look at world cricket, only India (Dhoni) & New Zealand (McCullum) captains across all formats.

    Most other teams look to spit captaincy at least between two men. This is so because with cricket being the only sport with 3 formats, plus with new T20 leagues everywhere – its a pretty hard mental & physical job for one man to lead so much teams, compared to previous decades.

    Mahendra Dhoni has done if for a while leading India & Chennai, but he’s been getting grey hairs these days.

    So overall I’d be slightly hesitant to let Ramdin lead in all 3 formats. I’d go for two formats & Bravo or Sammy leading in one format.

  25. Btw, have you been following what happened to England after achieving some success? Recent form has been poor but I admire there determination to pick a cohesive team to build with going forward.

  26. Well, his team just lost a nail biter in the CPL.

  27. I have long since given up on West Indies cricket simply because we don’t seem to want to learn from our errors or those of our competition. I actually don’t have a problem with different squads/captains for the different formats because they are completely different games.

    My issue is the insular behavior of the selectors and insistence that merits is not the determinant of the squad membership.

    I have also questioned our unwillingness to give potential a chance to bloom. I recall Warne getting some good stick at the start of his career but Australia persisted and the rest is history.

    I do think there is enough talent to make us competitive if we get serious and put a proper development plan in place. Once again, administration is our achilles heel.

  28. Not top in knowledge but I like the guy that there now

  29. what i know for sure is that he’s by far the best captain in the CPL this year … great read

  30. Totally agree. Wasting time with the other two Captains.