Better Sammy than Bravo
Why Not Sammy? Why Bravo?
As I moved around this country prior to the naming of Darren Sammy as the new West Indies captain, the question being asked in most quarters was “Can Sammy make the team?”
In addition, his lack of pace was questioned, with a coach of some experience charging that he was “too slow”.
Darren Sammy has represented the West Indies in eight Test matches, collecting 27 wickets at an average of 27.74 per wicket. This includes three five-wicket hauls including seven for 66 on debut in England.
A check on those bowlers who represented West Indies within the last two years and possess “more pace” than Sammy showed that Fidel Edwards has 122 wickets at an average of 39.43, Jerome Taylor 82 wickets at 35.64, Ravi Rampaul four wickets at 109.75, Darren Powell 85 wickets at 47.85, Lionel Baker five wickets at 79, Tino Best 28 wickets at 48.67, and Kemar Roach 26 wickets at 29.69.
These numbers would suggest to me that pace is certainly not the only requirement for successful wicket-taking at the international level, but also accuracy and guile.
Should Bravo and Sammy play in the same team since they are deemed to be similar-type players? Those echoing this sentiment clearly favour Bravo over Sammy, but I beg to ask the question, why?
Dwayne Bravo has represented the West Indies in 37 Test matches and has a batting average of 32.46, including three centuries and 13 half-centuries.
He has taken 83 wickets at an average of 39.39, including two five-wicket hauls and six four-wicket hauls.
In his ten Test series played subsequent to 2004, Bravo has averaged over 35 on three occasions and two of those occasions occurred in his second and third series.
Based on these statistics, Bravo’s batting average represents a reasonable bowling average and his bowling average represents a reasonable batting average.
West Indies cricket has certainly reached its lowest ebb when a player with these statistics can command the No. 6 batting slot and his selection not come into question.
West Indies cricket has certainly reached its lowest ebb when a player with these statistics can publicly make representation for a player who was omitted from the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka and then vow to be a mentor for the younger team members.
Mr Bravo would be better served by paying closer attention to his game and providing mentorship in the form of improved performances.
The No. 6 batting position is a very important one with the individual being often charged with the responsibility of guiding the lower-order batsmen, capitalising on a good batting start, repairing the innings and having the requisite skills to bat well against the second new ball.
Of the players currently playing international cricket who have consistently represented their countries in the No 6 batting position over any period of time, Bravo ranks among the lowest.
Marcus North of Australia averages 37.40, including five centuries in 19 Test matches. Ashwell Prince of South Africa averages 43.57, including 11 centuries in 57 Tests. Ian Bell
of England averages 42.92 in 57 matches, including 11 centuries, and Tillekeratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka averages 43.40 including 11 centuries in 63 Tests.
Even Brendan Nash, who batted in the No. 6 position in the absence of Bravo, averages 37.04 including two centuries in 15 Tests and I would not even venture to mention the record of V.V.S. Laxman of India.
It is interesting to note that within the last two years, the West Indies team played in nine Test matches [this does not include Test matches against Bangladesh during the players’ strike] where Bravo was missing due to injury. During this period, the team won one match, lost two and drew six. The two which were lost occurred in a return series to England where conditions winter Olympics.
On Bravo’s return from injury, the West Indies played in six Test matches, won none, drew two and lost four.
A leader of a cricket team does not always have to be the greatest cricketer but can be a successful leader if he displays good tactical awareness, has the support of team management, and the support of his players especially in the form of improved performances.
I believe that Darren Sammy should be given the opportunity to perform or fail.
• Ron Cumberbatch is a former Carlton and Barbados Cricket League (BCL) Division 1 player.