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Time to rewrite ‘Rally’? Keeping faith in WI and reactive Ramdin

I am willing to bet that there is a West Indian native or a West Indian supporter in the stats department at espncricinfo. That would explain why somebody tried to take shame outta we face on Sunday after Michel Clarke’s Aussies rolled over Denesh Ramdin’s West Indies with almost five sessions to spare at Sabina Park in the Second Test on the weekend.

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

In the Smart Stats box that accompanied the match report, the world was told, inter alia, that the Windies had faced only 611 balls in the two innings of the match. What we were not told is that 611 is also the number of runs scored by the Aussies in their two innings.

Think about that! WI faced only as many balls as the Australians scored runs.

Tell me honestly: Would you blame someone for asking whether that Second Test really qualifies as a cricket match? And whether Ramdin’s side qualifies as a cricket team? What more telling statistic than that parity between our balls and their runs do we need to understand just how far down in the cricket world we have come? Just how deep is the crisis?

Smart Stats

0.65 West Indies’ win-loss ratio at home over the last 10 years, the worst for any top-eight team. West Indies have played 41 home Test during this period, winning 11 and losing 17.

9 Number of times three out of West Indies’ top six batsmen have been dismissed for ducks in a Test innings. Five of those instances have come since 2000.

31 Runs scored by West Indies’ top six batsmen in the second innings, the second-fewest in a Test innings at home. The fewest runs scored is 24, also at Sabina Park, against England in 2004.

49 The eighth-wicket partnership between Veerasammy Permaul and Denesh Ramdin in the second innings, the highest in 24 years for West Indies against Australia in a home test.

611 Balls faced (or 101.5 overs) by West Indies’ batsmen in this Test, the third fewest against Australia when they have been bowled out twice. The fewest balls is 457 (or 76.1 overs) in Port of Spain in 1999.

Photo: Australia pacer Mitchell Johnson (centre) offers a handshake to West Indies player Veerasammy Permaul at the end of the second Test. (Copyright Robyn Beck/AFP 2015)
Photo: Australia pacer Mitchell Johnson (centre) offers a handshake to West Indies player Veerasammy Permaul at the end of the second Test.
(Copyright Robyn Beck/AFP 2015)

It took the tourists a session and a piece longer to claim victory at Sabina than at Windsor Park. I feel pretty certain that the optimists will advance that as a positive. Also positive in their eyes is the fact that WI saved the follow-on and so did not lose by an innings. And the final two straws at which the optimists, led by Skipper Ramdin, will clutch are Jason Holder’s first innings half-century and Jerome Taylor’s six-wicket haul, also in the first innings.

But realistically, if you are completely honest with yourself, can you say that, David Warner’s first-over dismissal apart, there was one moment in this entire match when you felt proud, really proud of this team?

I mean, we don’t even have to go back to the glory days and Michael Holding, say, bowling an unplayable over to Geoff Boycott at Kensington Oval in 1981.

Photo: Former West Indies captain and icon Clive Lloyd (right) shares a point with legendary pacer Michael Holding.
Photo: Former West Indies captain and icon Clive Lloyd (right) shares a point with legendary pacer Michael Holding.


Let’s start ten years later with Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh finishing off South Africa to snatch victory from almost certain defeat at Kensington in 1991. Think of Ambrose damblaying the performance to destroy England at the Oval in 1995 or of Brian Lara’s scoring 213 and 153 not out against Australia in 1999.

Think of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helping Lara’s team to post 418 in the fourth innings against the same high-flying Aussies in Antigua in 2003. Think of Chris Gayle making a triple century against Graeme Smith’s South Africans in 2005 or again against Sri Lanka in 2010 or of the World Cup final in 2012 when Marlon Samuels beat Lasith Malinga to a frazzle and then beat the frazzle?

Do you remember how that felt? When last has a West Indian performance in the Test arena had you, in Duke’s words, stiffing yuh chest? Was there one moment in the just concluded series that came even close?

Last weekend was much more reminiscent of the low, empty feeling in your chest in 1999 when Steve Waugh’s Australians needed only 457 balls to dismiss Lara’s team for 51 at the Oval.

Or when Darren Sammy’s side rolled over and died twice in three days at Sachin Tendulkar’s beatification in India in November 2013. Or just last month in the second innings of the First Test against England when WI could only manage 307 after being 224 before the fall of the third wicket.

Photo: England cricket captain Alastair Cook enjoys a personal milestone in the Caribbean. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: England cricket captain Alastair Cook enjoys a personal milestone in the Caribbean.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

It’s not a nice feeling, is it? But brace yourself, West Indies go to Sri Lanka in October/November for two Tests, three ODI’s and two T20’s but the really stern Test test for the WI comes at the end of the year when we play Australia in Australia.

I am sort of silently hoping that Channel 9, Sky Sports and Sports Max will all have a massive technical failure just at that time. Because the truth is that my masochism includes being unable to not watch even when I know that only serious cutarse is in the offing.

So what to do?

We have, the sentimentalists will urge us, to reculer pour mieux sauter. Bring back Chanderpaul, they will say. And Dwayne Bravo. And Keiron Pollard. But sometimes you can reculer so far that even when you sauter you have lost ground.

A genuine crisis, Lloyd Best used to say, is a situation in which whatever you do is wrong; I think we have one on our hands.  And because of that, I think, another Lloyd, chief selector Clive, has, Fazeer Mohammed pointed out in Monday’s Express, “asked the Caribbean people for patience.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cricket star Dwayne Bravo (right) on duty with the Chennai Super Kings at the Champions League T20.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cricket star Dwayne Bravo (right) on duty with the Chennai Super Kings at the Champions League T20.

Mohammed, who for me leads the regional realists, has set down in clear terms the reasons why we cannot afford to go that route:

“So they all make themselves available again. They’re all picked without the nuisance of playing any of our sub-standard first-class cricket in the Caribbean. They show their class in bits and pieces and the West Indies lose again. Then they’re unavailable because of this T20 thing over here or that T20 thing over there and the selectors fill the spots with players who were tried, dropped to accommodate the returning stars and are now picked again…”

“…makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it?”

So what to do?

Trust the leadership? If, says Fazeer, “Phil Simmons, Lloyd and the other members of the selection panel (Courtney Walsh, Eldine Baptiste and Courtney Browne) (…) know what they are doing and are convinced that they are on the right path, they have to stay the course come what may.”

That’s a big “if.” He is asking us to trust the leadership that tossed the 23-year-old Jason Holder into the deep end of the pool by promoting him to the captaincy for the World Cup.

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

Do you remember the look on Gally Cummings’ face on November 19, 1989 when the Strike Squad was a goal down and time was running out? He looked, I wrote at the time, like a desahuciado, the Spanish word both for a man who’s been evicted from his lodgings and has nowhere to go and a man who’s terminally ill and been written off by his doctors.

I saw that same look on Holder’s face when AB DeVilliers took a liking to his bowling in the pre-World Cup series and again during the World Cup and began to beat him out of sight and then beat him a little more for hiding.

But guess what? Since then, the same Holder has produced an unbeaten century against England, an unbeaten half-century against Australia and an aggregate of 264 runs in nine innings at an average of 44.

With the ball in the same period, he claimed 11 wickets for 367 runs at an average a shade over 33. In fact, he has performed so well that the professional commentators are now all agreed that he has solved the problem of finding a batting all-rounder to occupy the number six slot and leave room for an additional bowler.

So trust the leadership? Well, maybe…

Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder. (Courtesy Westindiescricket)
Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder.
(Courtesy Westindiescricket)

But they have to do something about the captaincy; Ramdin simply is not cutting it. He sees the problem as his not contributing with the bat. That’s true. In his last 22 Test innings since the end of 2013, he has scored just 349 runs at an average of 16.61 with a solitary half-century.

But the West Indian problem is neither his hands and feet nor the space in front of and behind the stumps; it’s the space between his ears!

So what to do?

For me, the crisis gives us little choice in the matter. David Rudder is an honourable West Indian man. And David Rudder assures us that when the Toussaints go, the Dessalines come.

Even if like me you are tempted to ask the bard, “Really?”, take a deep breath, exhale, swallow the bile and, for a few seasons more, rally.

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. Why did Samuels not play the last test?

  2. Lasana Liburd Ye in principle I don’t disagree with that position because at the end of the day I agreed with Shiv being dropped. All I’m saying the selectors turned series into a farce by replacing him with young players who were not ready for tests

    We also have to look at this from a global perspective in the strange way cricket scheduling works in which teams like Australia don’t play West Indies often.

    Windies in the last 8 months had 4 test series vs the financial powerhouses – India, s Africa, England, Australia.

    Due to off the field madness are poor on field selection – we abandoned 1, hammered in two and were solid in 1

    This is not the kind of performance that will get team more tests versus the elite – we will soon go back to playing Bangladesh every 6 months at this rate.

    The Australians as I mentioned earlier post are already concerned we take such a poor team their this winter and turn their boxing and New Year’s Day tests into a farce.

  3. You didn’t even acknowledge the 70 in the first place Colin, now it’s “that 70” lol !

    Your words.
    “Shiv ( probably) wouldn’t have done worse” That’s our problem right there, the negative tone of a frustrated people. ( Probably, wouldn’t , have done worse ) .

    “Gayle and co for Aus series ,to balance out dropping shiv”. How many men are you picking to “balance out “dropping Shiv?. Oh! But I forget, the Windies selection panel has over one million plus selectors.

  4. Colin, Just as some are saying that its unfair to drop Chanders based on his last half-dozen innings, it can’t be fair to write Dowrich off based on four innings. Did he look to you to be completely at sea against one of the best fast bowling attacks in contemporary world cricket?

  5. Debbie Espinal, I hold no brief for anyone – I raised early doubts about Clive Lloyd’s role right here -but that’s more than a little unfair. The selectors dropped Chanders when, from all indications, the Board wanted to retain him, didn’t they? So I don’t know that we can fairly say that they are mere Board lackeys. I don’t know that they don’t have a vision for West Indies cricket which is reflected in their choices but Tony Cozier is consistently telling us so. I feel we should keep an open mind and judge them on their performance.

  6. ..and oh…Shiiv Chanderpaul…averaging 80 vs Australia at home..talking stats, excluding his last two series vs SA and England…for which he was dropped.. .he has never averaged under 30…and more so , he has averaged 57 plus after the AGE of 35…

  7. …the team that played Australia was equivalent to a D class horse running along horses in an A class race… So all these stats makes little sense in the context of the series..had we had the services of Gayle, Simmons, Bravo senior, Narine….the results may not have been so pathetic..we sorely lacked experienced players…Bishoo and Samuels were injured for the last test…

  8. Why should I pick Chanderpaul to “probably” do just as badly as a younger player?
    Whenever I have a choice between two similar players, I will always choose the younger one once his attitude is good.
    Now if the older player has a better chance of winning me matches or is the best in the team, he can play for as long as he likes.

  9. Dorwich made that 70 & nothing else in a overall series average of 25 batting in key # position. Shiv probably wouldn’t have done worse.

    If a bigger effort wasn’t made to bring back Gayle & co for AUS series to balance out dropping Shiv – then picking Dorwich & Chandrika was a waste of time as it proved.

  10. How can you say they might as well have kept Chanders if the youth made decent scores?

  11. Well even with all IPL players unavailable i don’t know which cricket fan would have envisaged Dorwich who spent the entire season as keeper for Barbados, drafted in to play a test vs AUS as a specialist batsman at # 4. They might as well have kept Chanderpaul for the farewell tests…

  12. Colin, all that writing boils down to one little thing that you just said. ” in a perfect world” ponder that. We don’t have such a thing sadly.
    My earlier point was, with all the speculation, Dowrich wasn’t even remembered. That’s all.

  13. Allyuh spinning top in mud. The selectors will select who they want and to arse with what anyone else thinks. For them it’s not about the advancement of our cricket but about power and who could lick the Board’s ass better than whom.

  14. Michael Samuel when Australia toured West Indies in 2003 – Carlton Baugh Jr and Narsingh Deonarine made BIG hundreds vs a world class AUS bowling attack in a similar warm-up game before 1st test & when they got their chance in the tests over their careers they never stepped up – http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/2002-03/AUS_IN_WI/SCORECARDS/AUS_CARIB-XI_05-07APR2003.html

    FC games before test are not what they used to be when it comes to competitiveness as it was 20 given how hectic the international schedule is.

    Ask my Aussie media friends Daniel Brettig Adam Collins – they’d tell you AUS didn’t play that game at no serious intensity. In a perfect world Dorwich should have never played in this series. However he looked ok when given chance & he certainly should tour SRI & AUS as back-up keeper.

    Simmons had retired from test cricket so technically wasn’t available for selection

  15. I forgot about the young bajAn! After this series he may it recover! ShAi hope should some potential! They too young

  16. Ok , that’s an ok side ,though I’ll still consider Braithwaite ( remember,virtually all the batters failed in this last series ) . He has a few centuries under his belt .
    Thing is, I don’t feel that Gayle has the openers eyes or the footwork anymore.

  17. Prince before I answer that, who’s opening with Simmons?

  18. Narine, pollard, another young chanders round out my 15 man squad lol

  19. Michael Samuel who to drop boy (Simmons, Dwayne bravo, taylor, blackwood, bishoo, holder, Darren bravo, gayle, ramdin, Samuels, roach.)

  20. Bring him as a 12th man! Darren bravo fail again put him in

  21. Prince, a man makes 78, 52 not out ,70 in his first test innings and he’s ” faint hearted?”

  22. 70 and 15.in the first test. I won’t even bother to proceed with the test vs first class match argument. But the bigger question is, when are the youngsters going to get their shot? Imagine, you completely forgot about Dowrich until I brought it up. Chandrika was a replacement bat as far as I could remember. As a selector, who would you have put instead of Chandrika, and why. Did Simmons make himself available? And I ask this because I truly don’t know. Hopefully I could get some clarification on that.

  23. Test in Australia we need experience! This is not for the faint of heart

  24. I don’t think we can use that as a guide or we should group it with the actual test performances. It wasn’t a serious FC game & AUS didn’t play at test level intensity.

    Taking performances in that fixture too seriously is what made Clive Lloyd make the shocking decision to select Chandrika in the test squad.

  25. Micheal what he did in the test?

  26. Colin Dowrich has scores of 78,53, 70 and 15 in his first four at bats against Australia in the recently concluded Aussie tour of the West Indies .

  27. Is that a grammar error Michael Samuel ? Dorwich nor no Windies batsman scored 3 straight half centuries in AUS series

  28. No Dowrich? After three straight half centuries in four at bats against the Aussies? The last person I recall doing that was Chanders, the man he replaced .

  29. Simmons, Dwayne bravo, taylor, blackwood, bishoo, holder, Darren bravo, gayle, ramdin, Samuels, roach. That’s my best 21 test side

  30. I’m not that optimistic really ha. If bravo decides he never wants to play tests again I won’t be surprised based on his recent Cricinfo interview

    All I’m saying is that Simmons has not met him others yet face to face to talk about playing tests again – so we don’t how strong Simmons persuasion skills could be in changing his mind

  31. Well I must say you’re quite optimistic.

  32. Yes Bravo did, but the open conversation with Simmons hasn’t happen yet from what i understand – so their is still hope he can be convinced to come out of retirement before end of year tours to SRI & AUS

  33. lolzz too bad he may not see this comment

  34. I think Bravo has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to be in the Test team right now.

  35. You think Pollard should be on the test team?

  36. Also i feel sorry for Ramdin and the criticism his captaincy has gotten. Many times he captains Trinidad, POWERGEN in club cricket & Amazon Warriors with flair and imagination.

    But due to the selection politics and all these behind the scenes issues that bothering team since India tour pull out – Ramdin has never led out onto the field what i would consider the WI team.

    Narine hasn’t played a test under him, they work brilliantly together as bowler/keeper combo. The team atmosphere is just wrong & hasn’t really been good since the India tour pull-put saga – ignoring the test win vs England.

  37. I refused to believe that my former French teacher at Queens Royal College is the author of this. Let me state from the onset this gentleman has always called a spade a spade whether you liked it or not that’s a different story. Have faith how many a student was told bluntly and let me state rightfully so that they were not up to to par in the foreign language department and not to waste time fooling themselves or their parents. Hold faith with the West Indies Cricket team I dare say Mr. Best this is the time for blunt honesty to be told to WIPA,WICB and the players themselves, now is the time for the real Earl Best to emerge not this wish washy version.

  38. I think he’s gotta go..he’s not showing he has a grasp of tactics. The problem is a replacement right now, Holder is not ready either.

  39. Talk in commentary box from AUS journalist in Jamaica was the nervousness of West Indies sending this team to Australia this Christmas for what will be windies first boxing day & new years test down under since 2000 & the game ending in three days.

    Thus turning the most important tests of the Australia home summer into a farce.

    Apparently though talk of series dates being changed and letting New Zealand play o boxing day & Windies come earlier can’t be changed because of ICC factors.

    So basically the sooner Phil Simmons sits down with Gayle, elder Bravo, Pollard, Narine, Russell & get them back into test team – the better.

  40. We’ll wait and see. But what we doing with Ramdin ? Richard

  41. You right Kirwin, I understand with how you feel, but give this group some time.

  42. All they change is coach amd expect results. There’s a threshold for the effects of coaching. Since 2000 we saying, “they’ll come along”. Downward spiral is going to continue.

  43. Nah… With ‘keeping the faith’. Give Phil some time, give the youths a chance. We had no chance of beating Australia so don’t judge them on that.

  44. Hold faith in what ? Nothing substantive is changing. We’ll be in this hole for many years to come. And we’ll continue to glorify the era of the 70s and 80s