Windies new youth policy exposed against Australia

(Reuters) – Before their recent two-test series, West Indies chief selector Clive Lloyd said he wanted his young players to gain “exposure” and be “tested” against Australia.

“Our aim is to continue to play our young players to give them exposure, and you can’t get better exposure than playing against one of the best teams in the world,” he said. “They will be tested and that is what it’s all about.”

Shane Dowrich
Shane Dowrich

Lloyd’s wish was granted. His young players were certainly exposed and tested. Unfortunately, most of his batsmen were found to be wanting against a strong Australian bowling line-up that turned the series into a rout.

Australia did not enter the series with a good road record. They were a miserable 2-2-10 in their previous 14 away tests, but what better place to improve those numbers than the Caribbean?

It is no secret that West Indies cricket has fallen on hard times, and the sight of sparse crowds watching a hopelessly outclassed home team was just the latest reminder of how far Caribbean cricket has fallen from the halcyon days when they were the most feared team in the world.

Of the young batsmen inexperienced at test level who played against Australia, none exactly passed the test given by Lloyd.

Test debutant Shane Dowrich did not really fail, though he did not come through with flying colours either. The 23 year old from Barbados scored 102 runs in four innings at an average of 25.5.

Jermaine Blackwood, a 23-year-old Jamaican, made 65 runs at an average of 16.25, nearly all his runs scored in one innings of 51.

His scores were particularly disappointing, coming after an impressive series in the previous three tests against England.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Shai Hope, coming off a disappointing test debut against England, managed only 80 runs at an average of 20.

Experienced opener Kraigg Brathwaite was no better, scoring just 29 runs in four innings.

And Darren Bravo averaged just 12.25 for the series, not once reaching even 20.

Then there is Rajendra Chandrika, who made just about the worst imaginable test debut when he scored a dreaded pair, lasting just nine balls at the crease.

Many of the West Indies dismissals were due to poor decision-making, such as taking unnecessary chances trying to hit balls that were sailing harmlessly wide of off stump.

West Indies batsmen will face the fire again when they meet Australia, this time in Australia, in a three-test series over the Christmas period.

By then, it should be clear whether Lloyd’s strategy to discard 40-year-old veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul and focus on youth is starting to pay dividends, or whether it will be back to the drawing board.

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