While fans around the world were thrilled to the high heavens by the Windies victory against England in the second Test match of the current tour, I join in the chorus that one tree does not a forest make. Our boys in maroon have flattered to deceive before…many times.
The words of Captain Holder are what he is expected to say, especially given the penchant of the cricketing administrators to never tolerate independent thought and any language that can be deemed critical. Thus as long as Holder indulges in boardspeak à la WICBC he is safe, even though, like Darren Sammy before him, Holder’s selection as captain continually comes under scrutiny. However, at the minimum Sammy was a better tactician, a far better leader of people and quite fair in his captaincy. Holder, on the other hand, keeps making fundamental captaincy mistakes, indulges in field placements that befuddle and uses his bowlers in ways that are enigmatic. Particularly so was his handling of strike spinner, Devendra Bishoo, whose deployment, or rather lack thereof, was criticized by all and sundry. It is felt that appropriate use of Bishoo in the first Test may have made a difference in the outcome of the game, while use of Bishoo in the third Test clearly indicated that he was set up for scapegoat status in a losing cause. Many also argue that Holder chose Chase over Bishoo so as to provide scope for Chase to boost his bowling credentials in order to secure his place in the team as an all-rounder. And a few wondered whether race may have been a factor, especially given that Bishoo was the only Indian in the team that was once described by a former captain as a Black team.
Some fans have made the point that players should not be chosen on the basis of the captain’s comfort level with them. But the reality seems to be that this current team, referred to by many as a Barbados team with a couple of guest players, is being so categorized. And while Shai Hope has given hope indeed, his brother Kylie continues to fail miserably as does Dowrich, while Chase, once considered a rising star, seems to be at sea.
With respect to boosting the current team, Darren Bravo must be brought back immediately. And many argue that captaincy should go to Bravo or Brathwaite, while Holder should be allowed to merit his place like everyone else, especially since that position can be filled by a third pacer, most likely Taylor, with Beaton and a few others chafing at the bit. Ramdin should be brought back since he is still the best keeper/batsman around and at 29 still young even by cricketing standards, while a couple of the other youngsters develop, among them Nicholas Pooran. And Gayle also should be given a run, while Powell is provided with the help he needs, as he’s still a good talent. Blackwood also needs some work so that his approach to batting does not remain one-dimensional, as he too is a good talent. As well Kyle Hope must be dropped and among considered replacements should be Assad Fudadin. Finally the board must decide on the role of Bishoo since playing him without appropriately and fully utilizing him is a waste of time. Waiting in the wings are Permaul, Shillingford and one or two others.
Finally some of India’s current Test players came through the ranks of the IPL. The West Indies selectors ought to take note of this and some of the CPL’s consistent players ought to, at least, be given a chance.