SURUJ Ragoonath, ex-TT and West Indies opening batsman, thinks the current crop of WI players, particularly the batsmen, will have to develop their game at the international level.
There has been no competitive cricket at the regional level since March, owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Cricket West Indies (CWI) expects action to resume in February for the Regional Super50 tournament.
The West Indies suffered 2-0 defeats to hosts New Zealand in both the three-match T20 International series and two-match Test series. The regional squads are set to visit Bangladesh in January for a full tour (Test, One Day International and T20 matches).
The WI A team were on the losing end of a 2-0 series sweep against hosts New Zealand A in their unofficial “Tests.”
Both series finished on Monday (Sunday night TT time).
Asked on Monday what changes he thinks the selectors could make to the Test team for the Bangladesh trip, Ragoonath replied, “You’re looking at players’ records on different surfaces and the composition of the team because of the conditions you’re going to play (in).
“I don’t think you’re going to go to Bangladesh and play four fast bowlers. In terms of our batting, as much as we want West Indies cricket to do well, we got to allow players the luxury to learn on the job, given the fact that the standards in our regional tournaments aren’t that high. As a result, we’ll have to be more patient.”
Ragoonath bemoaned the omission of experienced batsman Shai Hope from the tour of New Zealand.
“What saddens me is that Shai Hope was not included, at least to be part of the A team,” he said. “He’s a major part of our cricket going forward, and he should have been given some match practice.
“Between now and January, we don’t have any (major) cricket coming up to prepare us, so those guys who have been playing are the ones that, most likely, the selectors will have to stick with.”
The former TT Cricket Board (TTCB) CEO was disappointed with the Test series sweep suffered by the Jason Holder-led WI squad.
“I’m disappointed because it’s a West Indies team and I always want West Indies cricket to do well,” Ragoonath said. “But I’m also very measured in my expectations, knowing that most of our players, the batters in particular, average very poorly in our regional First Class tournaments, which are not of the highest standard.
“So I don’t expect when they come up against quality opposition, in foreign conditions, that they would do well.”
A major bugbear for the West Indies, especially in the second Test at Wellington, was the fielding. Henry Nicholls survived several chances to post a Test-best 174 in New Zealand’s innings of 460.
“The catches that we put down, especially (off) Nicholls, we paid for it,” Ragoonath noted. “We allowed him to escape on several occasions. It’s something that I think is really not acceptable.”
The WI fielded two debutants in the second Test – wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva and fast bowler Chemar Holder.
Da Silva made three and 57 in the two innings (131 and 317) andHolder claimed two wickets for 110 runs off 26 overs.
“I’m happy for both of them, that they got (their) opportunities,” said Ragoonath. “Joshua looked pretty good on both sides of the stumps and that augurs well for us. I think that he would be a good replacement for (the incumbent Shane) Dowrich in the long term and it’s good to see him getting a chance and making use of it.
“Chemar Holder is coming along well and he’s definitely someone who I think would be forming part of the pace attack in the future.”
Two other positive signs for the WI in this Test series were the batting of Jermaine Blackwood (216 runs at an average of 54.0) and Alzarri Joseph (110 runs at 27.5, with a Test-best 86 in the first Test at Hamilton).
“Blackwood (was) aggressive and it worked well for him this series,” said Ragoonath. “Joseph may have had a good innings, but what we want Alzarri to do is step up as a bowler.
“ It has been a tough series for our bowlers and tougher for our batsmen. The positives were very few and far in-between.”