Decisions that baffle the mind


Added 20 February 2013


JUSTICE MUST not only be done – it must be seen to be done. There were two instances during the second round Regional 4-Day cricket match between Barbados and Guyana at Kensington Oval which are serious cause for concern. The first was the use of the reserve umpire after an unwell Englishman Nick Cook, who was standing with Trinidadian Peter Nero, had to leave the field and the second was the manner in which the replacement for Guyana’s captain Veerasammy Permaul was done. Barbadian Ryan Willoughby, the appointed reserve umpire, was pressed into service for 12 overs and should have been allowed to continue in that role until Cook was well enough to resume duties. But, lo and behold, Jonathan Blades, another local umpire who wasn’t any part of the group of officials appointed for the match, was summoned to the ground, and subsequently came onto the field and took over from Willoughby. There was absolutely no way that Willoughby should have been replaced but, apparently, someone in authority thought otherwise and reasoned that Blades, who, like Willoughby, is yet to appear in a first-class match, should be the one to stand in the middle. Was this a case of overstepping the crease? Also, it would be interesting to find out what role did the match referee play in this situation. Over the years, the appointed reserve umpire has always been required to perform the on-field duties in the event that any one of the two standing umpires becomes indisposed. Well, Cook eventually returned to the ground and resumed his job as on-field umpire. The other situation relates to how Permaul was replaced by another cricketer, Zaheer Mohammad, on the same day that he was on the field, bowling and captaining the Guyana side. My beef is not with the regulation allowing for replacement of players called up for national or international duty. But I think the playing conditions should be exploited by delaying such a replacement. I believe Permaul should not have participated in any aspect of play on the Sunday as his replacement was already in Barbados and was at the ground. If he had opted to play on that day, then the replacement should have been made the following day. It was totally unfair to the Barbados batsmen to have to face both Permaul and Mohammed, who came into the attack, shortly after he came on the field. Teams must be able to plan for the various bowlers that they would encounter on a given day. It begs the question at exactly what stage the official replacement was done as it was known even before the start of play on the third day that Permaul was going to be replaced. Even though Mohammed only bowled 11 balls, that’s not the point. The fact that neither Paul Wintz nor Amir Khan, who had been left out of Guyana’s 13-man squad but were still in Barbados, was used and Mohammed was specifically flown in from Guyana on Saturday, the second day of the match, meant that Guyana would’ve been aware of Permaul’s selection for West Indies duties. That Barbados went to win the match and Mohammad scored a half-century in a losing cause, many people would say, what’s the big deal as Guyana still lost the match. But Permaul, who came in for some warm lashes in the Caribbean T20 last month when he had to hide himself from the attack, is indeed a lucky cricketer. He continues to enjoy the goodwill of the West Indies selectors even though there are more successful spinners in the Caribbean. For example, Jamaican Nikita Miller and Barbadian Sulieman Benn both have  records superior to Permaul’s, but have not been embraced over the last two years. Dominican off-spinner Shane Shillingford should also have been selected ahead of Permaul, who has been given another opportunity to take some cheap wickets against lightweight opposition after playing against minnows Bangladesh last year. There are many pundits who have rightfully questioned the inclusion of out-of-form Ramnaresh Sarwan in the side for the just-ended tour of Australia and the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe. While Sarwan has looked out of sorts, he has been a class act over the years and has a fairly good record as a Test and One-Day player. With Shivnarine Chanderpaul nearing the end of an outstanding career and Marlon Samuels now recuperating from an eye injury, I believe the selectors want to give Sarwan ample opportunity to rediscover his form as they probably feel he still has a lot to offer West Indies’ cricket. More so, when one looks at it, no other middle order batsman in the region has really knocked down the door with performances in recent limited-over competitions and demanded entry to the One-Day side. Whereas Sarwan was thrown into the frying pan by restarting his international career against a resurgent Australian outfit with a formidable bowling attack, he should have things more to his liking against the weak Zimbabwe team. Looking back on that series “Down Under”, I thought the tour selectors erred by not playing Tino Best in the first two ODIs at Perth on the traditionally fastest pitch in Australia. Locally, I hope that Barbados will see the wisdom of playing a second or even third spinner, alongside Ashley Nurse for today’s Regional Super50 match against Guyana. •


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