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We need a strategist


EZRA STUART

We need a strategist

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LAST YEAR, after Barbados’ failed Caribbean Twenty20 campaign, I suggested the team needed a strategist.
I’m even more convinced now there is a dire need for a technical guru, calling the shots for the Barbados team.
From the outset, when the new selection panel, chaired by Hendy Wallace, hurriedly named a “provisional” a 23-man squad to prepare for the tournament before the start of the local Sagicor T20, I penned my disagreement on these pages last October 24.
In that column, headlined New Selectors Jumped The Gun, I made it clear they could’ve waited until the first four rounds of matches were played before selecting anyone.
I wrote then that?“I’m still trying to determine what yardstick was used . . . to omit players of the calibre of Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Martin Nurse, Derick Bishop, Kenroy Williams, Roston Chase, Kevin Stoute and Shane Ramsay?”
In the case of Roach, the big bucks paid by eventual Australian Big Bash champions Brisbane Heat were worth every cent after his match-winning three for 18 spell in the final. But there was this excuse about not wanting to use him in all the formats of the game.
Whereas the selectors added new boy Justin Brathwaite and Chase to the training squad and also named them in the final 14-man squad, I felt the improving Stoute and hard-hitting duo Martin Nurse and Alcindo Holder should’ve been selected.
Now let’s fast forward to the actual T20 action. Despite two opening wins against the Leeward Islands and Jamaica, the warning signs were there about Barbados’ fragile batting as Barbados slumped to 40 for five before finally surpassing Jamaica’s meagre total of 72.
Then came the disastrous four-match losing streak which began when Barbados were routed for an all-time low of 66, chasing Guyana’s paltry 108. The next day, Barbados’ bowlers continued their fantastic job, restricting the Combined Campuses and Colleges to a modest 111 for eight. But lo and behold, the batsmen again embarrassed us, being restricted to 99 for nine in 20 overs.
Next, came probably the worst ever selectorial decision in Barbados’ cricket hstory with the dropping of two specialist batsmen in Ryan Hinds and Jonathan Carter for fast bowlers Fidel Edwards and Javon Searles for their first match in St Lucia against Trinidad and Tobago.
With Trinidad and Tobago’s two main weapons being leg-spinner Samuel Badree and mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine, it was unfathomable that Barbados would omit two of their best players of spin bowling.
Even though Carter and Hinds had failed with the bat, the retention of Shamarh Brooks after scoring one and nought in his two previous innings will remain a mystery. At least Chase should’ve been selected if neither Carter nor Hinds was being selected.
One expected that for the game against Trinidad and Tobago there would’ve been the temptation to play Edwards to partner Tino Best, as they did last year in the semi-final at Kensington Oval.
There was absolutely no need to boost the bowling department, as there was more than enough ammunition with the likes of Best, Carlos Brathwaite, captain Dwayne Smith, Sulieman Benn, Ashley Nurse and Hinds.
Kyle Mayers and Carter, who can be classified all-rounders in local cricket, are more than capable of bowling slippery fast-medium and could’ve been called into service if needed. If Edwards was to play at all costs because of the nature of the pitch, one of the spinners should have been dropped.
But after making just 101, it was unbelievable that you would start the attack with Edwards and Benn. Even more mystifying was that Best, the tournament’s leading bowler and who had formed a penetrative opening partnership with Brathwaite, was not called upon until Trinidad and Tobago had wiped off half the runs.
Lendl Simmons was already in a nice groove and Best made no impact when he was belatedly brought on. Up to that point, I could not fault Smith’s captaincy as I thought he led the team superbly in the first four games.
In the final game against the Windwards, there should’ve been a third spinning option in Hinds since it is a known fact that, just like Barbados, they are susceptible to spin bowling. That was the only game in which our bowlers didn’t complete their job, faltering in the end at the hands of Darren Sammy and Liam Sebastien.
Let’s hope the Barbados selectors don’t repeat the same mistakes and that they pick only the players who merit selection on the teams for the upcoming four-day and Super50 competitions. Performance must be priority No.1, not potential.
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