Home / Volley / Cricket / West Indies should replace Chanderpaul with Usain Bolt

West Indies should replace Chanderpaul with Usain Bolt

If it is true that a cricket match is played in the minds of the opposing captains, then the Second Test between Michael Clarke’s Australians and Denesh Ramdin’s West Indies which begins today in Jamaica is likely to be a mismatch.

That conclusion is based not on the tourists’ flattering nine-wicket margin in the First Test in Dominica but entirely on the evidence of the match as a whole.

Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin. (Copyright: AFP2015)
Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin.
(Copyright: AFP2015)

Although on paper, the visitors are indisputably superior to the home side, the win at Windsor Park was a triumph not of superior talent but of superior organization and superior leadership.

And nothing that has happened between last weekend and today suggests that the West Indian leadership is in a better place than it was after the humiliating capitulation in Roseau.

There are those who will point immediately to the absence of the long-serving Shivnarine Chanderpaul as the reason for the West Indian defeat. Such sentimental twaddle should really be treated with complete contempt but let us deal with it. With his match aggregate of 85, Chanders’ replacement Shane Dowrich was the highest contributor to the WI match total of 364 runs.

Perhaps more to the point, in his two innings he faced 221 balls; Chanderpaul in his last three Tests had managed only 92 runs off 327 balls. ‘Nuff said…until the newbie begins to fail to deliver.

Hoping against hope, others have suggested that we might solve the problem by using the genuine opener included in the squad instead of using Shai Hope at the top to partner Kraigg Brathwaite.

The 21-year-old Bajan scored only two in the second innings but he was easily the top scorer in the West Indies’ paltry first innings total of 148. And he fell to excellent catches on both occasions although he will not want this week to damblay the loose shots that cost him his wicket.

In my view, the West Indian problem is obvious. It can be summed up in one word: leadership. Or the lack of it.

Photo: New West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons (right) talks to Test captain Denesh Ramdin. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: New West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons (right) talks to Test captain Denesh Ramdin.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

It is a cricketing commonplace that leg-spinners are to be used in short spells. But because Adam Voges, who made full 40% of the Aussie first innings total, was a debutant, the WI probably came to the game with little archived information on him. Searching for a miracle, Ramdin persevered with Devendra Bishoo for 33 of the 92 overs the innings lasted.

Bishoo claimed two more of the last four scalps, Mitchell Johnson for 20 and Mitchell Starc for a duck. But the miracle simply did not materialize, Voges remaining unbeaten at the end.

Not that Ramdin’s field placing helped. Look again at how the second innings partnership that threatened to take the game away from the Aussies ended. Captain Clarke must have spotted something in the way Dowrich was playing and placed Shane Watson in so unorthodox a position that the radio commentator called it “wide on-bowler.” In that spot, he snaffled a low on-drive to send the set batsman on his way and leave the WI on the skids.

Despite the psychological impact of Bishoo’s four early morning wickets, Ramdin by comparison could find nothing to prevent Voges and the tail from taking their team from 126 for 6 to 318 all out. It is worth noting that four of Bishoo’s eventual six wickets went bowled or caught at the wicket, meaning that the field placing was an overt contributor for only two of them.

Now, I supported the appointment of Ramdin and argued in this space that he should be given the captaincy of all three teams. Boy, am I glad only about a dozen people read my stuff – and that includes my wife and my editor! No one, I argued, could be a worse captain than Otis Gibson, oops, Darren Sammy.

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

Well, maybe I was wrong. I certainly am nowhere near as sanguine now about the choice as I once was.

Critical though the television commentators often were of the Prince of Port-of- Spain, you felt that that was because the tactics he employed did not work.

With Ramdin, the criticisms come thick and fast because he does not employ any tactics, no discernible ones, anyway. He does not act; he reacts. He has bowlers and fieldsmen but he has no discernible plan. He does not lead, he misleads.

So where does that leave us at Sabina today? Well, the easy answer is in a monkey pants. We won’t recall Chanderpaul and we can’t replace Ramdin. So we are going to need luck.

Or Usain “Lightning” Bolt. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. In 1994, Brian Lara made 375 against England at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St John’s to claim the world record; ten years later in 2004 he made 400 against England to reclaim it.

Where, you ask? Why, at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St John’s, of course! So, lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place? Says who?

Chief of selectors Clive Lloyd and Coach Phil Simmons should have remembered that Bolt has expressed an interest in playing cricket at the highest level. Bolt, let us not forget, struck double sprint gold first in Beijing in 2008 and then again in China in 2012.

Look again at Jermaine Blackwood’s dismissal in the second innings in Dominica; with the WI still under the gun, the tall, dark Jamaican athlete ran down the track and lost his wicket. Maybe we should put him out of his misery; let him run down the track and maybe win a medal.

And put “Lightning” in the starting XI and in the middle order at Sabina.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Richard Thompson (far right) chases Jamaican legend Usain Bolt (far right) during the London 2012 Olympics 4x100 metre final. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Richard Thompson (far right) chases Jamaican legend Usain Bolt (far right) during the London 2012 Olympics 4×100 metre final.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Failing that, this Ramdin-led team may well have missed out on its only realistic chance of averting a second three-day slaughter.

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.

Check Also

CPL 2017: Trinbago Knight Riders make a Giant step, Gayle’s Patriots get a soaking

You have paid a “pardna” for tickets for you and your family of five. But …

16 comments

  1. Food for thought: The current cricinfo poll asks “Who is the best wicketkeeper/batsman in world cricket?” The West Indies captain is at the moment in ninth position…of nine candidates!

  2. The Spark, Let’s be very clear: leadership includes captaincy but is not synonymous with it. Ramdin’s captaincy is, in my view, a real weak link in this team but frankly I am not sure how much help he gets from Messrs Lloyd, Richardson, Simmons and Williams. Lloyd has a big reputation but he also had a massive team; even Sammy would have been able to beat people leading Lloyd’s side. Richie’s tenure as WI captain is eminently forgettable if only because of the loss to Mark Taylor’s Aussies, the effective end of the reign. What leadership help can the other two give? So Ramdin is largely on his own and the evidence I have leads me to doubt that he is a student of the game. We ass dark for another few years, ent, Colin B?

  3. Colin B., Don’t be too sure. Look again at the batting line-up and ask yourself whether four sessions is not enough to dismiss this team – twice!

  4. Kirwin Weston, let me recommend that you go on espncricinfo.com and listen to Geoff Boycott’s opinion piece on former Aussie captain and leg-spinner Richie Benaud. It’s titled ‘Benaud had instinct and flair you can’t buy or teach.’ You’ll find the answer to your question in there.

  5. 6-6-0-2 his figures at lunch

  6. Thank goodness Australia are batting first, that the only reason test will last longer than 3 days this time and my trip wont be a waste

  7. Test match cricket is like a chess match. Every ball matters.

  8. You need to find someone that is a student of the game of cricket.

  9. How do you train someone to be tactical ? Is it possible ? Our natural knack …

  10. “…the win at Windsor Park was a triumph not of superior talent but of superior organization and superior leadership.” Prince Borde

  11. The Bolt reference sped past me lol.

  12. It is interesting that in the first match The WI first innings went for 140 something runs all out, the second innings a partnership was made of 140 something runs and
    coincidence the Tiger needed 140 something runs to pass 12,000. The ‘sentimental twaddle’ has left us in a pickle as the most experienced Test player with captaincy experience was left out by a coach with how much Test experience? Should we really be alluding to leadership? Seriously? Before it was a case of rebuilding the team but it seems as though the trenches were dug too deep to lay down this foundation and the material left to go up is cocoyea fecks for the pillars. The Tiger might have been placed in a shallow grave on the side but even his wrists and headstone remain steel. Trinidad and Tobago T20 team could play better Test match cricket given two innings. Even more interesting, a Red Steel Team with an Australian Coach.

  13. Why Bolt? Don’t you think that replacing Chanderpaul with Jack Warner instead will have a more intimidating effect.