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Wicketkeepers’ injuries a worry

Ezra Stuart

Wicketkeepers’ injuries a worry

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It must be worrisome and indeed ironic that a number of the invitees to the West Indies’ fitness test here in Barbados and those in line for selection to the One-Day and Twenty20 squads for this month’s series against Australia are recuperating from injuries.
Incredibly, three of the four wicketkeepers invited – Denesh Ramdin, Devon Thomas and Shane Dowrich – have all been recently sidelined with injuries.
Ramdin played but did not keep wicket in Trinidad and Tobago’s last two matches of the Regional Four-Day Tournament, which resumes this weekend after a one-week break.
He is averaging 85.25 after three matches, with a highest score of 151 not out in the last round and, once he proves his fitness after posting a career-best 96 in the penultimate ODI?of the recent series in India, is likely to get the nod to stand behind the stumps.
Thomas missed the Leewards’ first two games, while Dowrich was unable to take his place behind the stumps after being struck above his left eye while failing to cleanly gather a Tino Best delivery. This resulted in his missing the last match against the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC).
Carlton Baugh has been the only injury-free candidate but while his wicketkeeping has been fairly good, his batting, for a man with 11 first-class centuries, has noticeably gone off the boil as evidenced by scores of 27, seven, 13, three, four and one in the last?Test series in India.
Neither Dowrich nor Thomas has a half-century in a List A match, and both should see this as an investment in their potential, rather than in their production.
The truth, though, is that Ramdin and Baugh, while being superior to the other wicketkeeper/batsmen in the Caribbean, have underachieved on the big stage.
Thomas, who was a surprise inclusion for the last Cricket World Cup, averages 13.38 in 25 List A matches with a highest score of 35, and 11.66 in his nine ODIs while Dowrich averages 7.50 in seven List A One-Day matches with a highest score of 19.
On the other hand, it is encouraging to see that despite not being given a chance to play in any of the 25 ODIs after he was chosen as a World Cup reserve, Best is still on the Windies selectors’ radar.
With Ravi Rampaul sidelined by injury and illness over the past couple of months, this could be Best’s last chance to resurrect his international career if chosen in the squad for the three ODIs in St Vincent on March 16, 18 and 20.
It is noteworthy that Jason Mohammed, who was selected for the ODIs based on his performances, has now been overlooked after he struggled for two off 21 balls in his debut against India.
Leg spinner Anthony Martin, who got some warm licks in the Caribbean T20, has been bypassed after nine ODIs in which he took 11 wickets at 26.90 each with a good economy rate of exactly four runs an over.
With the arrival of Devendra Bishoo, Sunil Narine and Garey Mathurin, as well as the re-emergence of Shane Shillingford, two left-arm spinners – Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller – who both went to the World Cup, have also fallen out of favour with the selectors.
But could they be giving a 29th birthday present (March 17) to Danza Hyatt, who must be extremely lucky to be still in line for selection after scores of 31, 0, 20 and 11 versus India were preceded by 2, six not out, 39 and three against Bangladesh?
Before that, Hyatt made one and one in his two ODIs versus India in the Caribbean. Overall, in nine ODIs, he has scored 112 runs at an average of 14.00 and a strike rate of 59.57.
Are there no other batsmen in the Caribbean who are better than Hyatt, whose batting average at in every format, even at the regional level, is under 30 runs an innings.
Barbadians must be wondering what the position is with Ashley Nurse, who was withdrawn from the T20 squad for the two-match series in England last year after he failed a fitness test, and the recuperating Carlos Brathwaite, who amazingly played a One-Day International for the West?Indies before he played a One-Day game for either Barbados or CCC.
My?One-Day squad (from the 30 invitees): Adrian Barath, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Tino?Best, Sunil Narine, Devendra Bishoo.