Recall Hinds, Best and Smith
Ever since last year’s WICB 50-overs One Day tournament ended in Jamaica, the raw deal meted out to some Barbadian cricketers by the West Indies selectors has been on my mind.
I’ve been wondering what really is the score with players like Ryan Hinds, Tino Best and Dwayne Smith in particular?
Lanky left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn has now joined the Bajan rejects list, prompting some unanswered questions.
Will they ever make the West Indies One-Day International (ODI) team again? Do the selectors believe they are just regional bullies?
Is it their attitude or some off-the-field matter? Is there a different selection criteria for certain players?
In the instance of Hinds, it must be reiterated that he played the last of his 14 ODIs seven years ago in 2004 when he was in the XI that helped the West Indies to win the Champions Trophy in England.
Since then, several new players have made their ODI debut, including a second-string team when the first-choice players were on strike for the 2009 Bangladesh home series which was followed by the Champions Trophy in South Africa, but Hinds has still been ignored.
What is really ridiculous is that Hinds’ performances with bat and ball in 56 regional One-Day matches (1 470 runs, average 35.00 and 59 wickets, average 20.59, economy 3.40 runs an over) have been superior to many of those selected ahead of him.
Lest we forget, last year, he was the top wicket-taker (14 wickets at a miserly 9.50 average) while his economy rate of 2.95 runs an over, was only bettered by Antiguan Anthony Martin (2.82).
Best was arguably the best and most hostile fast bowler on show in last year’s regional one-day tournament in Jamaica with ten wickets at 10.10 runs apiece and was named a reserve on the World Cup side.
I felt at that time, that he along with Dale Richards and Hinds should have been in the World Cup side.
Richards was harshly treated after his last-minute call-up for the home series versus South Africa when he had scores of 51, 28, 59 and 19 against the best new ball attack in world cricket in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Also, Dwayne Smith got a tough break when he was unceremoniously dropped after a solitary ODI against Zimbabwe in 2010 when he played an ill-advised shot in the final over.
Denesh Ramdin also paid the price for his indiscretion but came back for the rest of the series and was even promoted in the batting order.
Keiron Pollard, who also gifted his hand and was one of the players called out by then captain, Chris Gayle never paid the price.
Like new captain Darren Sammy and out-of-favour all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, Pollard has been repeatedly caught in the deep in subsequent matches. Yet he did not suffer the same fate as Smith, who had performed creditably in the preceding ODI series in Australia.
Just imagine that the Windies have played three ODIs in Sri Lanka; seven in the World Cup; five each against Pakistan and India in the Caribbean and now three more in Bangladesh – a total of 23 – since Best was named as a reserve and the selectors haven’t seen it fit to slot him in for a single match.
It is not that he has played any 50-over regional matches since last year to reassess his bowling in the longer limited-overs format.
The West Indies selectors must remember that justice must not only be done but seen to be done and merit should be a key factor in representing the region.
It should not be a case of picking players with no proven track record. Also, the senior and older West Indian cricketers have every right to wear the maroon cap and should not be discarded because of purported perceptions.
West Indies have been rebuilding since 1995 but you can’t do so with a host of young cricketers who are simply not good enough to be elevated to the international arena at this stage of their careers.
While statistics should be used as a guide in the selection of teams, I also endorse the notion that in some instances selectors can pick a diamond in the rough based on potential if they believe he can make the grade.
A case in point is the selection of Barbadian Carlos Brathwaite in the One-Day side for the series in Bangladesh.
But the selectors, like the WICB, sometimes put the cart before the horse and do things the wrong way by choosing One-Day cricketers based on four-day performances and vice versa.
For example, the Regional Super50 should have been contested in early September before the Bangladesh tour so that all the best cricketers would be available.
But we may hear some flimsy excuse that the clash was unavoidable.
No wonder our regional tournaments fail to attract sponsorship.
On another note, will the West Indies selectors ask injury-prone Adrian Barath to play a full season of regional cricket like they have unjustifiably requested of Jerome Taylor before he is selected again on the regional side?
Or is it that the unwritten rules and demands are not the same for everyone?