THE new lead selector of the West Indies cricket team, the Most Honourable Desmond Haynes, along with Ramnaresh Sarwan, chose their squad to play against England in the first Test, of a three-Test series, which starts on March 8 in Antigua. Phil Simmons, the team’s coach, retains his place as the third selector.
Some commentators disagreed with the choice of the Jamaican John Campbell to open the batting with the captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
They believe that he hadn’t done enough as a Test player to earn a recall. However, there hasn’t been any opening batsman recently who has played a decent Test innings, except Brathwaite.
Jeremy Solozano was the replacement when Campbell failed, but was quite unfortunate to be dealt a sickening blow to the helmet while fielding at short leg on his Test debut in the first of a two-Test series in Sri Lanka, in late November 2021. The resulting concussion ruled him out of the series. That opportunity having been lost, the young Trinidadian has to address the selectors once more. International sport is tough and opportunities lost have to be regained with effort.
Campbell, in the two first-class matches for the season thus far, scored a fine century and is averaging 53.25.
Although two games are not much to go on, the selectors are aware of the Jamaican, who has experience at Test level, and hence will know what to expect. Also, the pandemic has placed all cricketers at a disadvantage with the limits they are experiencing in practice schedules, plus the lack of games. I don’t think the selectors had much choice.
Joshua Da Silva has established himself as the wicket-keeper/batsman, but will be kept on his toes by the return of Shane Dowrich to first-class cricket.
The Barbadian should explain why he left the tour of New Zealand in late 2020 for “personal reasons.” Nowadays, this seems to be an acceptable excuse for anyone not continuing an official WI cricket tour. Yet we don’t hear any reasons from the hierarchy of Cricket West Indies for players abandoning a tour. Are they on contract or not?
Fabian Allen was another on that same tour who had “personal reasons” for leaving prematurely. A few years ago, Darren Bravo used that same reason to leave New Zealand on a tour, where he was doing well, having just scored a double century in a Test match.
Can you imagine a worker or contractor telling his superior or employer that he won’t be attending his workstation for personal reasons? Yet he’s available in the future when another job turns up?
At the end of it all, one is selected again without fuss or bother. There’s not even a morsel of respect for fans by issuing a statement, even one stating that the “personal reasons” are highly confidential.
Unless CWI becomes strict with its rules, regulations and contracts, not allowing players liberties like those I’ve mentioned, then respect for authority will be laughed at and dismissed, without being taken seriously. The players must be called to account. They wouldn’t get away with that slackness if playing for England, Australia or India.
Back to the Test squad. There was a welcoming clamour for Anderson Phillip when chosen for the squad of 13. Interviews and congratulations were in the newspapers and on TV. I couldn’t help but wonder why our media put these young cricketers under such pressure when they’re chosen for international duty, which only builds their anxiety.
Phillip, like Jayden Seales, has far to go because he has the necessary ability, work ethic, passion and ambition to gain the heights. These two youths have the talent to move upwards and nothing will stop them, bar injury.
However, the reports give the impression that Phillip is already in the final 11.
Apart from the two mentioned and in the absence of injured Shannon Gabriel, the other main bowlers are Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph and Veerasammy Permaul. That amounts to six specialist bowlers, where a well-balanced team only needs four, plus an all-rounder. If Holder is the latter and Permaul the only spinner, then it means Roach and Seales are the main pacemen; that leaves Joseph and Phillip. Therefore, I believe Haynes will go with the more experienced Joseph, rather than the rookie Phillip.
It’s good to see that ability-wise, fast bowlers are on the rise again. And the more competition, the better they’ll be.