Brathwaite could fill all-rounder role
By Tony Cozier
There is one immediately evident deficiency in the West Indies’ training squads of 20 for their three forthcoming home Tests against New Zealand and the additional nine for the High Performance Centre’s almost simultaneous series against Bangladesh ‘A’.
It is the dearth of genuine all-rounders, more specifically those capable of batting at No.6 and bowling decent spells as third seamer in an attack liable to rely heavily on spin. Of those called up to prepare for the New Zealand series only Dwayne Bravo, reinstated four years after his last, and 40th, Test, qualifies.
His value is dependent on his full recovery from the shoulder injury sustained in the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL) and on how quickly he adjusts to the demands of five-day cricket following his extensive, almost exclusive involvement in the abbreviated formats.
The reason for such a shortage is straightforward.
With the exception of the Beausejours Stadium in St.Lucia and, occasionally, Kensington Oval in Barbados, slow home pitches no longer encourage fast bowling or uninhibited batting. The effect is that bowlers resort to spin, insecure batsmen struggle and all-rounders fade away.
Throughout Darren Sammy’s tenure as captain, his modest medium-pace bowling and batting position as low as No.8 was said to be unbalancing the eleven. He should make away for someone else.
In Bravo senior’s absence, whether through his preference for Twenty20 franchises or the selectors’ choice, there was realistically no one else to fill the role. On Bravo’s return, there is.
With no room for both in the eleven, Sammy’s Test averages (21.68 batting, 35.79 bowling), more than his captaincy, led to his replacement by Denesh Ramdin and his decision to quit Tests altogether.