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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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The selectors’ task

CRICKET West Indies (CWI) has changed the structure of their selection committee. The new regime of president Ricky Skerritt’s CWI chose a Selection System Task Force (SSTF), which decided to do away with the formal selection committee and instead put in place a lead selector as opposed to a chairman, plus one other.

To those two they have added the coach, Phil Simmons, and the three will have the responsibility of selecting West Indies (WI) teams in the foreseeable future. The captains, Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard, would be invited to meetings to give their views but wouldn’t have a vote. They would attend at the discretion of the lead selector.

The coach, as one of the three, would be expected to provide the knowledge and the plans, while the captain will forward his view of players’ temperament and spirit on the field of play. The other lone selector would have to be convinced of the balance while the lead would have to ensure, when all the views are heard, that the resultant team is not only the best at the time for the job at hand, but that the panel is in full agreement with the final selection.

Roger Harper, the former Test cricketer and ODI player from Guyana, has been picked as the lead selector and in my view is a sound choice having a wide range of experience in playing, coaching, captaincy and proven analytical thinking. Miles Bascombe, of St Vincent, has comparatively very little playing experience and I’m not aware of his other assets that would make him a competent selector.

What I do know is that while it might be an ideal to have playing experience at Test or first-class level, it is not as absolutely crucial a criterion as a national selector. One can be quite capable of having cricket knowledge, or an eye for talent in addition to the reading of a game, without actually having achieved the higher strata of the sport.

Where I do agree with Sir Andy Roberts is the matter of Bascombe being a member of the SSTF which laid down the policy and chose a group of men to interview for the role of a selector. He ought to have disqualified himself from the process and the interviews for the preferred candidates.

The SSTF comprised Philo Wallace, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Bascombe and was chaired by the vice-president of CWI Dr Kishore Shallow. It is passing strange that Shallow and Bascombe are both Vincentians hence, to avoid accusations of nepotism, Bascombe should have withdrawn from the process as a member of the SSTF provided he wanted to be considered.

Be that as it may, Harper and his men got down to selecting the West Indies team to play against Afghanistan in India in a single Test match, three ODI’s and three T20 Internationals. These games take place from November 5 to December 1.

As a new selection committee, it was not unexpected to appreciate the conservative approach by sticking with the players who recently represented the region in international cricket.

I don’t know how much notice they would have had of their appointments for them to be able to observe players from a selectors’ viewpoint or study and analyse recent first-class and international performances plus local regional cricket from the 2018/19 season. Notwithstanding that, the task at hand, never a simple one, was handled with caution and a degree of alacrity.

A professional sportsman or woman has to perform at all times or else in a short time their ratings will drop and they will struggle to fight back to the top. In team games that person would be dropped from the team then their true professionalism would be tested to ascertain whether they have the courage and the fortitude to regain their place.

That is where Darren Bravo has found himself and it is up to him alone whereupon his character will be tested, to discover if he wants to play and perform for the WI again.

His poor form plus his lackadaisical demeanour made his removal certain. He never looked the part and it goes to show that ability alone does not cut it for a sportsman. Without hours and hours of practice, good performances are limited.

I would like to have seen Hayden Walsh Jr and Brandon King in the Test side as well before Rahkeem Cornwall and Sunil Ambris through sheer ability and match-winning qualities! However, the selectors’ task was reasonably well done.

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