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T2021 W/C: Polls apart? CWI and Wired868 panels agree on Gayle, differ on Bravo, Holder

Allyuh tink dis selection ting easy? Allyuh know who Joshua Bishop is? No?

Well, the 21-year-old Barbados Royals’ rookie left-arm spinner’s name somehow ended up on a list of three dozen West Indies players named by the 12 panellists asked to select their WI dream team for the 2021 T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Photo: Barbados Royals’ Joshua Bishop in action against the Jamaica Tallawahs during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 31 August 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

The MSJ’s David Abdulah eventually took the place that originally belonged to Wired868 Editor-in-Chief Lasana Liburd, who only just had his say.

Other single-mention names on the list were Jermaine Blackwood, Kennar Lewis, Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales. And Romario Shepherd—‘an injustice (…) crazy’, says his incensed Prime Minister, Irfaan Ali—and Dominic Drakes.

A reminder of the CWI panel’s list:

Harper’s selected squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Christopher Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Reserves: Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Dominic Drakes heaves over the off-side field for six during the 2021 Hero CPL final against the St Lucia Kings at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 15 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Given their individual performances in the semi-finals and the final respectively, aren’t you now wondering why neither of Drakes or Shepherd got more votes?

But that’s the point, isn’t it? One swallow doesn’t make a summer. How much store is a selector to set by a single outstanding performance on any given day? How does one estimate or calculate the chances of the individual reproducing that level on any subsequent occasion, let alone consistently?

Consistency is what every selector desires. Or should.

So for a selector, life is exceedingly difficult although some make life difficult for themselves.

Take the case of Andre Fletcher, whose 81 against TKR stands in stark contrast to the multiple single-digit scores he posted in his 12 CPL 2011 innings and his 12 T20I innings—he averaged 20.6—between November 2020 and the start of the recently concluded tournament.

Photo: St Lucia Kings batsman Andre Fletcher pulls to leg for four during CPL action against TKR at Warner Park  in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 31 August 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20 / Getty Images)

Does that 81—how much was good luck on the day and how much skill?—really justify his place on the World Cup aircraft?

For one of the 12 Wired868 panellists, the best Dwayne Bravo could do was twelfth man. Yes, DJ Bravo, the talented all-rounder with 500 T20 games and 500 wickets to his name who almost by sheer force of will lifted the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to the 2011 CPL title.

No place on the Starting XI. Number 12!

But it’s not all bad. Misled, that panellist eventually saw the light. On the final list, DJB was one of six players who got the nod from the entire group of 12.

The others were captain and vice-captain Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran, of course, along with Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and Fabian Allen.

Photo: Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman Shimron Hetmyer gets it right during the 2021 Hero CPL semi-final against SKNP at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 14 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Neither Andre Russell nor Obed McCoy did enough to convince the entire panel, Russell coming up one vote short of unanimous approval and Obed, pushed as far down as the Reserves by one panellist, two.

Only two other players, Hayden Walsh Jr and Lendl Simmons, succeeded in getting majority votes, 7, no member of the panel omitting the leg-spinner from the squad while two completely ignored the opener’s credentials.

Because the selecting dozen were nearly all 100% Trinbagonians—12  of the 36 named on the list are Trinbagonians—it came as something of a surprise to me to learn that Akeal Hosein, genuinely miserly when on song, was included on eight squads but on only two Starting XI’s.

However, it surprised me not at all that Grenada’s Fletcher managed to garner only a single vote as a member of the Starting XI and five more as a Reserve.

If the other six panellists looked his way, they did not see what Harper and co saw. Or what they did see, they did not like nearly as much.

Photo: St Lucia Kings batsman Roston Chase takes the aerial route while GAW wicket-keeper Nicholas Pooran looks on during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 2 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Roston Chase too managed only one Starting XI vote plus one as a Reserve. The reasons are quite different.

Prior to the start of the 2011 CPL, both he and Ravi Rampaul, whose name twice appeared on the Starting XI and nowhere else, were completely off the selection radar.

But now that that tournament is over, I have seen or heard nobody but Guyana’s Reds Perreira and Tony McWatt challenge either’s right to a seat on the UAE-bound plane.

Maybe it’s my ID card colouring my view but I think the two Guyanese are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off.

The selectors, with Perreira’s and McWatt’s countryman Harper in the hot seat, were right on the ball with those choices. You don’t need to see the stats; your eyes told you they have earned their place.

Your eyes also told you that even those watching the CPL with Trini eyes could not possibly offer any place to Darren Bravo, one of the three selections that provoked the most negative reaction.

Photo: TKR’s Darren Bravo successfully completes a difficult catch to dismiss Jamaica Tallawahs batsman Rovman Powell during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 7 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Not one member of the panel picked the once classy left-hander on the Starting XI; three put him on the squad and two among the Reserves.

Astoundingly, Harper and co. gave him one of the four reserve spots in their 19, saying that he was the best choice among the available options.

Frankly, with my eyes closed, I can identify Shamarh Brooks and Sherfane Rutherford as far, far, far better candidates on current form. Just the oft-repeated sound of the centre of the bat on the ball told me so.

And, mind you, like Bravo’s, my passport has a scarlet ibis and a cocrico on the cover.

Although only half the Wired868 panellists gave Jason Holder a place on the starting XI, not a single one omitted the current top-ranked ICC all-rounder and former Test captain from the squad.

Photo: Barbados Royals captain Jason Holder (centre) attempts to run out GAW batsman Odean Smith during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 7 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

And, of course, Mia Mottley, his prime minister, has publicly dismissed the selectors’ decision to relegate him to the Reserves as ‘defying all understanding’.

Frankly, I cannot but agree. Oshane Thomas, after all, is in the squad, on the grounds, lead selector Roger Harper explained, that he is capable of high speed. Of the 12 panellists, none appears to have been impressed by pace without control—Thomas’ stock-in-trade—because none included him on the Starting XI. Only two had him in the squad and another four among the Reserves.

And five panellists gave Sheldon Cottrell, saluted for his consistent hard work but certainly no world-beater, a place on the squad while five had him among the Reserves.

The pick to end all picks, however, was the selection of Chris Gayle who, one panellist specified, must be included in the travelling party—but only as mentor!

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Chris Gayle is bowled by St Lucia Kings MVP Roston Chase as wicket- keeper and stand-in captain Andre Fletcher and Rahkeem Cornwall react during the 2021 Hero CPL final in Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 15 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Liburd missed the boat with his belated defence long after three of the 12 gave him a starting spot, three more included him in their squads and two reserved a spot for him among the Reserves.

The last four? If they watched the 42-year-old’s travails during the CPL and they also watched the 6’8” Kyle Jamieson at work in any recent international match, I imagine them being quite horrified at the thought of his actually turning out in a serious World Cup game.

“Oh,” I think I hear their shocked response, “my God!”

“God forbid!”

Wired868’s selected squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Wired868’s Reserves: Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Sherfane Rutherford.

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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