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Pass that baton, Floyd

Ezra Stuart

Pass that baton, Floyd

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One of the major problems with most of our West Indian cricketers is that they don’t know when to call it quits and bow out gracefully with their reputation still intact.
I was shocked, but not surprised, when I saw that 40-year-old Floyd Reifer was named in the Combined Campuses & Colleges’ (CCC) team for both the opening round matches against the Windward Islands of the Regional Super50 and Regional 4-Day competitions.
Over the years, I’ve commented on Reifer’s performances without fear or favour and while I admire his longevity, I would like to ask him why he is still playing regional first-cricket.
Is it his aim to become the oldest ever West Indian first-class cricketer? Is he still trying to prove a point?
A CCC official, in defending Reifer on a radio programme recently, said his role was as a mentor for the young players. But couldn’t he do his mentorship from the sidelines as coach, since he hardly stays in the middle long enough these days to show them how to compile an innings of substance at the first-class level?
What is the purpose of Reifer continuing to occupy a middle order batting position in a developmental team?
How is his playing as a specialist batsman helping the CCC, especially since his record has been nothing but pathetic over the past three seasons?
Has Reifer, who is part of the CCC?selection panel, not realized that his time as a first-class cricketer is up? Whether he finally comes good this season or not now that the best bowlers won’t be playing in several matches because of international commitments, is not the issue. Won’t it be better to expose a younger batsman, who can one day represent the West Indies?  
The last time Reifer scored substantial runs in first-class cricket was in 2009 when he amassed 1 002 runs in 12 matches at an average of 47.71 with three centuries.
Let’s look at his statistics for the last three years. In 2010, he scored 235 runs in six matches from 12 innings at an average of 19.58. He had two half-centuries with a highest score of 71.
In 2011, he made 261 runs from 15 innings in eight matches at an average of 17.40 with a solitary half-century – 55.
Then, last year in 2012, Reifer’s returns were a mere 164 runs in six matches from 11 innings with one not-out at an average of 16.40. His highest score was 40.
Are those returns satisfactory to justify his playing in a team whose primary role when embraced by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) five years ago was to allow students to play representative cricket while studying?
By my count, Reifer, in his last 20 first-class matches, has scored 660 runs from 38 innings with one not-out at an average of 17.83 with just three half-centuries.
Hence, I’m suggesting that Reifer should continue to coach the CCC side as he has done a favourable job, especially in 2011 when the side topped the points table at the end of the preliminaries before being humiliated in just two days by Jamaica in the final.
If the CCC policy is to have an experienced batsman in their side, I would recommend to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and those in charge of the administration that they should recruit the former Trinidad and Tobago captain, Daren Ganga, who has 23 centuries in 172 first-class matches – 48 of them at the Test level – while amassing 10 137 runs at an average of 37.13.
Ganga, who turned 34 last month, would, I believe, provide the necessary on-the-field guidance and contribute with the bat in a side which desperately need runs from their main batsmen.
In fact, I believe the WICB?must pay greater attention to the goverance of the CCC?side as there needs to be more accountability within the CCC?set-up. Otherwise, the board should seriously consider fielding their own High Performance Centre developmental side in regional cricket.
Only in the Caribbean would an ageing, under-performing coach/player, be afforded such a luxury in a team that won one and lost five of their six matches last year and finished second last.
Overall, in 145 first-class matches, Reifer has amassed 7 397 runs at a modest average of 31.88 with 13 hundreds and 40 half-centuries.
But based on their inept batting performances last year with nine of their totals under 200 runs, there has hardly been any improvement by the young CCC?batsmen.
Fast bowler Jason Holder scored the most runs for CCC – 201 – at an average of 18.27.
Wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton was the only century-maker, 119 not out, but he  ended with only 191 runs in six matches at an average of 19.10.
New captain Kyle Corbin also had a poor season with just 163 runs in six matches at an average of 14.81 and a highest score of 35. Nkrumah Bonner managed 196 runs at an average of 21.77 and Raymon Reifer, despite making a career-best 89 in one of his nine innings, scored 143 runs at an average of 15.88.
My belief is that if Reifer decides to play – as it appears no one can stop him from doing so – it should only be in the Super50 competition where he averages 32.41 in 121 List A matches. But some courageous individual with West Indies cricket at heart should whisper in his ear that it is time to move on.