MALCOLM Marshall was one of the best fast bowlers ever to grace the fields of West Indies (WI) cricket. He was also a fine batsman, good enough to be considered an all-rounder. He was one of the more knowledgeable cricketers of his era.
Marshall was chosen to tour India with the WI team in 1978/79, when he made his Test match debut in the second Test. The Barbadian became a legend in WI cricket before his premature death in 1999 at 41.
It must be noted that his selection for that tour was after playing only one first-class game for Barbados in the 1978 season. And this brings me to my point.
Nicholas Pooran represented TT in three four-day games in 2014. Lead WI selector Roger Harper said that Pooran has not played enough first-class (four-day) cricket to be considered for Test selection. Since then he has been thought of as a player suited to the T20 and ODI formats of the game.
I would like to inform Harper that as the lead selector he is expected to have the knowledge to discern real talent and ability, then separate it from superficial and shallow capability.
The selectors of the day in the season of 1978 chose Marshall, whose talent was recognisable to them. On the tour, he played in only three of the six Tests without any great success, but the experience settled him and shaped him into the great fast bowler he became.
Pooran is a batsman of superlative talent and one would think that the WI team would need someone like him to strengthen the batting middle order while improving the scoring rate, thus assisting his team to gain advantageous positions. It is surprising that WI selectors could even think of not choosing Pooran to be on the team for the Tests in New Zealand.
Furthermore, it reveals a thought process that is bogged down by the illogic of believing that cricket’s three formats pigeonhole players as being proficient in only one or maybe two. They are blind to the fact that talented individuals, whether batting, fielding or bowling, can adjust from one style to the next with ease, through the assistance of an experienced coach.
Although a wicketkeeper of high standard, Pooran is also proving how capable he can be in the outfield, as his brilliant fielding and catching can testify in the Indian Premier League.
The left-hander, a tremendous batsman, is 25 years old. Are the selectors going to leave him out of the WI team until it’s too late? Not unlike Kieron Pollard, one whom the selectors of the day refused to acknowledge as a class batsman who could destroy any bowling attack regardless of format?
Pollard is 33 now and could still subscribe to a Test team to give the batting an injection of style and brisk strokeplay.
There are no bowlers in the world of cricket who will be happy to bowl at Pollard. And if he played Test cricket when he should have, he would have been an even better batsman in all formats today. Additionally, his fantastic fielding makes him a tremendous asset.
Don’t make the same mistake with Pooran.
In the Youth World Cup of 2014 in a particular game when WI under-19 were struggling at 70 for eight, Pooran struck 143 off 160 balls to lead the team to 208, which persuaded Ian Chappell, who was at the game, to remark that he was one of the best young batsmen he had seen.
After that, the youngster was involved in a serious car accident that almost finished him off as a cricketer, if not his life. The strength of his character showed in his determination to work hard to get back on the cricket field, although some experts thought it would be impossible. He missed more than a year’s cricket, but recovered sufficiently to become the blistering batsman he is today.
Now, no less a person than Sir Vivian Richards has endorsed him to play Test cricket. At 25, he’s ripe and raring to go. They could do far worse things than pick the young left-handed batsman to tour New Zealand as a member of both the Test team and the T20 squad.
In WI’s halcyon days we were successful not only through the pace of our fast bowlers but also the quick scoring ability of our batsmen. WI batsmen are known for their flair.