IT is disappointing yet highly understandable that three of the selected players for the West Indies (WI) cricket tour of England 2020 have opted out for personal reasons. That two of them are the most promising batsmen from our region which talent is not widespread, makes it more difficult to accept.
Nevertheless, health considerations must always come first in our lives, regardless of our professions. Although cricket is under the banner of sport and entertainment, it does not mean that it isn’t subject to the vagaries of the prevailing conditions. And there is nothing in the world of entertainment that prevents a performer from refusing to enact his role in light of a pandemic.
However, the show must go on although without the chosen ones who refuse to expose themselves to their perceived dangers.
It is a shame though from the West Indian viewpoint, that their fans would be deprived of the attractive batting of Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer, two dashing left-handed stroke makers who provide the elegance and art that the cricket lover enjoys, especially in a Test match atmosphere, rather than the frenetic environment of a limited-overs game.
Keemo Paul is still making his way towards permanency in the team so that he would not be missed as much as the other two.
Then again, his type of fast-medium bowling would be particularly suitable for English conditions, his fielding is above average and his batting has the potential to make him a genuine all-rounder. A Test tour at this opportune time would have been the ideal medicine a doctor of cricket development would prescribe for Paul’s future.
Be that as it may, the tour seems scheduled to go on, awaiting final confirmation from the government of the United Kingdom.
The newcomers on the team will look forward to selection in the final eleven, even if not in all three Tests at least in one, as a first baby step into cementing a place for the future.
For, no matter the rationality of the players opting out, plus the forgiveness of the authorities with a promise of no victimisation, by the same token, those players who are actually willing to brave the conditions to make the tour, is a credit to their character; the virtue being, that they were willing to face the dangers and complications of the trip, knowing it was never going to be simple, for the sake of WI cricket, which selectors, without psychological prompting, would have in the back of their mind when selecting future teams, that these players were willing to take the chance to sacrifice to represent the WI.
I see it as being motivational for batsmen like Nkrumah Bonner, Sharmah Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood to put their head down and bat, visualising success with a future permanency for a spot in the middle order. Many a career has been born and built with such an incentive and there is no difference in this scenario.
Waiting patiently in the wings would be Sunil Ambris and Joshua Da Silva, two members of the 11 reserves who are more than capable to fill any of the boots of those who find themselves in the final eleven.
Because of the unique circumstances, they will be all practising together, sharing accommodation and being a significant part of the whole; having them there would help those in the team fight assiduously to maintain their place in the match line-up. Those in the reserves have the incentive to practise hard to win a place in the final eleven come what may.
One cannot get away from the issue that the batting is weak. Kraigg Brathwaite has been unable to score any significant runs in the past two years and retains his place, I guess, being the vice-captain, and on the history of some strong performances. His opening partner John Campbell has been quite inconsistent in his opportunities. Lots of the batting responsibility will fall on the wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich and the all-rounders Jason Holder, the captain, Roston Chase and the unproven Raymon Reifer. That leaves us with the only proven top-class batsman on the team, Shai Hope.
The team weighs down heavily with fast and medium bowlers with only one spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall. A few months ago Hetmyer and Evin Lewis were rejected from selection to tour with WI for being unfit. Can someone please tell me whether Cornwall was subjected to the same fitness tests and if so, did he pass?