Early Bird: Caribbean cricket’s reality check; today’s WI can’t afford to change a team that didn’t lose

Its impact on the Third Apex Test against England starting on Thursday in Grenada isn’t guaranteed to be significant. Nor is its impact guaranteed to be obvious when the West Indies next take the field in the Netherlands in May.

But there appears to be a shift in selectoral policy that is not unlikely to bear fruit for West Indies cricket in the near future.

Thanks, it seems fair to conclude, to new lead selector Desmond Haynes.

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) lead selector Sir Desmond Haynes shows he’s still got it..

Haynes played in the good old days when getting to the fifth day in a five-day Test match against West Indies was a major achievement. Ditto drawing with WI. You might score 500 runs, yes, but over two innings!

And, in the really good times, you’d only have to count three or four WI batsmen’s scores to equal the opposition’s whole total.

Yes, that was then, the good old days. This is now, the not-so-good new days.

“Check out how everybody and he brother falling over dehself to congratulate Kraigg Brathwaite fuh batting long and drawing a match,” Bobby told me. “Drawing, eh!”

No response. Just after 5.15am, full moon still high in the western sky, bandit still feeling deh cud run in yuh house and rob yuh. You want to spoil my day talking bout de empty half ah de glass?

“What woulda happen if deh win?” he pokes me again. “We woulda declare a public holiday?”

Photo: West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite (left) in action against England in the First Test of the Apex series in Antigua on 9 March 2022.
(Copyright Reuters)

“Brother,” I begin, trying my utmost not to let it all come out, “I taking a draw, yuh know. I fed up ah cutarse.”

“Ehhehn?” he shoots back. “And you approve of—what the headline say?—‘West Indies name unchanged squad for Third Test’?”

Me: Of course! Just larse week you was saying how West Indies don’t give people a chance to find their best selves. Now deh giving players a good, solid run to show off deh wares, yuh vex?

Bobby: Brother, John Campbell and (Veerasammy) Permaul have no wares to show off we haven’t already seen! Campbell play 17 Tests, have no centuries and averaging in the low twenties. Permaul play how much, ten Tests, and have one five-fer.

He could bowl out any half-decent side?

Me: I agree 100 percent! But what would be the point of trying someone else for one match? No, I agree with keeping them for the last Test—and then dumping deh tail! If…

I mean, in four innings so far, Permaul has bowled 70 overs and got five wickets. With only five maidens.

Photo: West Indies players wait for a decision from the third umpire during action against England in the Apex Test Series.
(Copyright Getty Images)

Bobby: Well, Jack Leach didn’t get a whole bag of wickets either. But before we go there, tell me about [Jeremy] Solozano. Don’t you think he deserves a chance ahead of Campbell? He was selected for Sri Lanka but never got a chance to bat. You really think we need to see more of Campbell rather than a little of Solozano at this level?

Me: Here is my question for you: if Solozano was Bajan or Antiguan, would you be pushing for him to be included for Thursday?

Bobby: Yeah. Sure. I think he deserves a chance to show off his wares.

Me: His day will come. Nothing happens before its time. How old is he, young, right?

Bobby: Born 1995, so 26.

Me: He have plenty time. But back to Permaul and Leach. At least Root could put four and five and sometimes six men around the bat fuh Leach. Brathwaite woulda have to get scab labour to do that for Permaul. The truth is that, for long periods, he didn’t look like he could get anybody out.

Photo: West Indies spinner Veerasammy Permaul (right) is congratulated by wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva during the 2021 Test Series in Sri Lanka.

If they didn’t have to score quick runs in the second innings, he mighta end up with none fuh 150. Or maybe 1 fuh a double century. Do you know that, in the two Tests so far, Permaul has 5 for 254?

Leach’s figures so far? 168 overs, 74 maidens, 290 runs, 11 wickets. Chalk and cheese!

Bobby: Permaul is a shithong, bro. Roston Chase ent no great bowler but he cyar do worse. And he’s a much better batsman.

Me: In theory! When he’s on song. These days, he cyar make a note; I just checked on him Sunday. In the Covid tour to England, he started with 47, 37 and 51. Since then, in 18 innings, he has 179 runs, with one half-century and 12 single-digit scores, including four ducks! Ten, duck, 2, 1, ten, duck, his last six scores. And 21 and 22, I think, before that!

Kyle Mayers figures not good and deh looking better than dat. So…

Bobby: Papa!

Photo: West Indies batsman Jason Holder (left) takes off for a run after cashing in on the bowling of England captain Joe Root during the First Test in Antigua on 9 March 2022.
(Copyright Reuters)

Me: Anyway, for me, the important thing is that there is a clear policy that you can make sense of whether you agree or not. That’s a lot more than you could say with Roger Harper.

Even if we lose the next Test, which I think is very likely to happen, I am cool with the selection. When yuh get drop, yuh cyar say yuh didn’t get a fair chance to impress.

Bobby: Times real change, oui. Long time, WI never used to change a winning team; nowadays, we don’t dare change a team good enough not to lose!

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  1. Studying Permaul when Alzari Joseph bowled 74 overs and has taken 7 for 302 with only six maidens. SMH!!!

    • Kyle Mayers replaced Permaul in the starting XI. And didn’t Alzarri sometimes look like he might get a wicket?
      Just saying…

      • A solid run was a major point within the article.
        Not much to dispute that Permaul hasn’t done much but neither have the other bowlers from either side as evidenced by the nil-nil series scoreline.
        In looking at Permaul’s career, he has gotten the opportunity to play nine tests in ten years. More a crawl than a run. When you consider Cornwall got 9 tests in 2 years or Warrican 13 tests in 6, Permaul can feel a bit hard done by. And despite having a 10-wicket test haul, Cornwall has an inferior strike rate to Permaul and his average is better by less than a run. Warrican’s numbers are better but also not by much.
        If history is to be followed, Permaul likely wouldn’t get a game again for the 2022 as the most tests he has ever played in a year is two.
        Back to my main argument: Permaul has never gotten a proper run even when he has dominated first class cricket in the region. If I am not mistaken, he led the FC charts in at least two of the past four years when FC was played without even getting a pick in that time period.

        • I dispute none of what you say. Nor would I have dropped Permaul for this Test.
          Players need a good solid run, the major point I was making in the piece, and WI have not generally given them that.
          Still, if I was going to drop someone, it would have been Permaul. Whatever his first-class figures may say, generally speaking, he has not looked to me to have the class to trouble decent Test batsmen who are not after quick runs.
          And that has certainly been the case in the first two Tests.

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