Shane given raw deal

Andi Thornhill,

Added 31 October 2012


What insularity? A poor selection may not always equate with insularity in West Indies cricket. We can be pointed and tell the selectors when they have erred instead of stirring up an ants’ nest on the grounds of nationality when it can’t be proven. Selectors are only human and they make mistakes from time to time. Some of them are so inexplicable that it leaves us to think all kinds of things. I believe leaving Shane Shillingford out of the team for Bangladesh may fall into this category, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s Dominican. I think he has been given a raw deal since his exploits against Australia last year in the Caribbean. He went to England afterwards but was little more than a passenger as new kid on the block Sunil Narine was identified as the team’s best spin bowler, and Shillingford was duly relegated to the substitutes’ bench. I would like to believe that it was more along these lines that the Dominican hasn’t figured prominently since then in the West Indies line-up because Trinidadian Narine is the preferred choice at the moment. Truth is that if Narine didn’t go off to the Indian Premier League last year he probably would have played in all the matches against the Australians. His absence opened a window of opportunity for other spinners, including Shillingford, but it was clear that once Narine was free to play for the West Indies, his rivals would not find favour with the selectors. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but Shillingford should recognize that he was used merely as a stopgap. The fact that he had a 10-wicket haul against Australia made no significant difference once the Trinidadian mystery spinner was available to be selected. The question is: did he still have strong claims to be the team’s backup spinner for the tour of Bangladesh? No other spinner has emerged to set the world on fire in the past year, so I would say Shillingford’s chances of making the West Indies team for the longer version of the game are as good as anybody else’s. Actually, I think Sulieman Benn or Nikita Miller could have gained the nod as well, but they too have been left on the back burner and will have to wait until next year’s regional season to see if they can take enough wickets to regain the confidence of the selectors. It does look strange that Guyanese Veerasammy Permaul has superseded bowlers of higher rank and experience given that he only has West Indies ‘A’ team experience and albeit a recent trip to Bangladesh with the High Performance Centre unit. Perhaps the only logical reason for this move is that he’s younger than Shillingford, Benn and Miller and the selectors may have an eye on the future. I would like to think, though, that merit more so than age should come into play unless you are bringing something different and special to the table as is the case with Narine. Permaul is promising but not exceptional at this stage of his development and it is in this respect that someone like Shillingford could feel that he has been given a hard break. It’s a bad call on the part of the selectors. Simple as that. I remember there were years  in the past decade when Bajans were finding it hard to get into the team and we were also crying foul and talking about insularity. I remember West Indies Cricket Board director Conde Riley felt he had to put a case for all-rounder Ryan Hinds. Some may now ask on what basis Kirk Edwards has returned to the team and why Fidel Edwards has been omitted. Not a thing to do with insularity! The selectors don’t always get it right. • Andi Thornhill is an award-winning experienced freelance sports journalist. 

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