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New selectors jumped the gun

New selectors jumped the gun

By Ezra Stuart | Wed, October 24, 2012 - 9:12 AM

The new Barbados selection panel, chaired by Hendy Wallace, has started its innings by going on the front foot and playing some early strokes while leaving their stumps exposed.

But their shot selection, however well intentioned, is too risky for the pace of the pitch they are batting on.

Why would the selectors, mere days before a ball is bowled in the local Sagicor General Twenty20 Cup, surprise those vying for national selection by prematurely naming a provisional 23-man squad for next year’s Caribbean T20, which starts in January.

If the intention, as stated by Wallace, is to have the players in training by the first week in November, then there was no need to rush naming any squad unless they wanted a few weeks to get letters off to employers requesting time off for the invitees.  

Couldn’t they have waited until at least the completion of the fourth series, which ends on Sunday, October 28, to select that provisional squad and then add and subtract players based on performances thereafter?

I’m still trying to determine what yardstick was used by the three Hendys – Wallace, Broomes and Springer – and Sherlon Greaves, the ICBL Empire coach, to omit players of the calibre of Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Martin Nurse, Derick Bishop, Kenroy Williams, Roston Chase, Kevin Stoute and Shane Ramsay?

Maybe, it was the three-day Elite and Division 1 competitions; the 50-over Super Cup or past T20 performances.

Naming only one specialist wicketkeeper – Shane Dowrich – makes it is clear the pint-sized gloveman is seen as a sure pick regardless of current form. Some competition with Shai Hope would be good for these two talented youngsters.

In Roach’s case, the selectors have clean-bowled all cricket fans with their courage in excluding one of the best fast bowlers in the world at the moment.

Are the selectors too green to remember that in the semi-finals of the 2012 competition, it was the pace of Fidel Edwards and Tino Best which had eventual champions Trinidad and Tobago reeling. Clearly, the pace trio of Roach, Edwards and Best is not what is required to bowl over Barbados’ twin-republic nemesis.

Interestingly, Holder, who bowled 4-0-21-0 in his last T20 outing versus Afghanistan and is good enough to play for the West Indies “A” team, has been initially ignored but the experienced 30-year-old Khalid Springer has been recalled. At least Greaves would’ve seen first-hand what Holder can do and did in Sunday’s two final overs, which floored Empire.

Springer will be hoping to regain the fitness and form he had when he took six wickets at an average of 10 and an economy rate of 5.45 runs-an-over in the 2008 Stanford Twenty20. Let’s hope Springer still has it in him to play at this level. His CGI Maple clubmates Renaldo Parris, Jamar Griffith and Renaldo Parris and a few others give a conspicuous northern look to the provisional list.  

Sadly Bishop, 28, one of the country’s most economical bowlers in any form of limited-overs cricket, and also a useful free-scoring lower order batsman, has again been overlooked.

Just imagine that he has never been given another chance since taking five wickets at an average of nine and economy rate of 6.42 in two T20s for Barbados against Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago in the same 2008 Stanford T20, even with fellow left-arm spinners Ryan Hinds and Sulieman Benn in the same 11.

This latest omission follows on this year’s first-class season when, after taking the most wickets in the three trial matches, Bishop, who has taken 50 or more wickets in the top division eight times in the last 11 seasons, wasn’t even named among the reserves.   

But whereas Hinds, who would want to quickly forget last weekend’s double defeat when he couldn’t do it with bat or ball for Empire, and Alcindo Holder have again found favour, the fitness cloud seems to continue to encircle the similarly heavy-set Nurse.

After making his T20 debut for Barbados in the inaugural 2006 Stanford Tournament when he had a solitary innings, Nurse, apart from a game versus Bangladesh in 2010 when he made 18 and took three for 21 with his slippery fast-medium bowling, has been bypassed by the national selectors.

He got a game for the Combined Campuses and Colleges in last year’s Caribbean T20 and scored a half-century recently in a T20 practice match versus Trinidad. As evidenced by his half-century against Maple on Sunday, Nurse can be the ideal partner for Dwayne Smith at the top of the order if the selectors only believe in his ability while ensuring he and all selectees meet the required fitness standard.

Stoute, whose fielding wasn’t spot-on in this year’s Caribbean T20, has seemingly paid the price for his strike rate of 86.59 in six innings with three not out after compiling 84 runs in eight T20s. Whether his knocks of 55 off 51 balls and 29 off 28 balls for Empire in losing causes against Carlton and Wanderers have helped his cause in any way is left to be seen. But maybe Chase’s two cameos of 33 off 22 balls and 41 off 33 balls, plus his stingy 4-0-11-1 return with his off-spin will boost his chances of getting into the mix. After all, he was a member of a T20 team which went to Trinidad for the 50th Independence Anniversary Tournament and played against Afghanistan.

Stocky Ramsay probably paid the price for his rash shot in the Super Cup final despite his five-wicket haul in his primary role as off-spinner, but he continues to show his worth.

Williams, who played in that ill-fated Stanford semi-final in 2008, but didn’t bat or bowl and has never seen another opportunity in this format, must be wondering if the selectors don’t recognize his all-round worth with his solid batting and steady off-spin bowling.

Spartan fans will also be hoping that their trio of one-dimensional invitees – Shamarh Brooks, Rashidi Boucher and Marrodon Bend – can get among the runs to see them at least scale the 100-run mark and justify their retention in the interim list.

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