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WI could do with Narine in India

Ezra Stuart

WI could do with Narine in India

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After being on a?high following six consecutive wins by 2-0 margins against lightweight opposition, the West Indies were brought back to Earth by a dismal display in the first Test against India when Darren Sammy’s side lost by an innings and 51 runs inside three days.
Many supporters of West Indies cricket thought the regional side had turned the corner and that three-day defeats were a thing of the past following the boasts after the recent International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings were released.
But, predictably, the sceptics have sharpened their knives as not only the players should be held accountable after this humiliating loss.
Obsessed with the series success against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, it appears those responsible for team selection became oblivious to warnings that West Indies still had to show their mettle when facing stronger opponents.
Clearly, West Indies rested on their laurels and kept faith with underachievers.
From the time the squad was selected for this Indian tour, the selectors were criticized for omitting Sunil Narine, who has been dubbed a mystery spinner.
What makes Narine’s exclusion mystifying is because this two-Test Sachin Tendulkar Farewell Series is being played on Indian pitches where he has bemused batsmen with his mixed bag of tricky deliveries.
Surprisingly, many observers have pointed to Narine’s 15 wickets in five Tests, including his debut match in cold England when neither he nor Shane Shillingford was able to grip the ball properly during that series, as some sort of justification for his exclusion.
After a mere five Tests, they have unjustifiably started to classify him as a One-Day and Twenty20 bowler. But it should be noted that many great spinners over the years have not been very successful at the start of their careers.
For example, Australian legend Shane Warne had only four wickets in his first four Tests before he captured eight against West Indies in his fifth Test to move to 12, three fewer than Narine at a similar stage.
In fact, the West Indies’ greatest ever spinner, Lance Gibbs, was only two wickets better with 17 in his first five Tests.
Another argument has been the need for variety instead of using both off-spinners Shillingford and Narine. Have they forgotten that current chairman of the selectors, Clyde Butts, played throughout his first-class career with another off-spinner, Roger Harper, in the same Guyana side and were subsequently joined by Carl Hooper, who was also a capable off-spinner.
The ordinary performance of left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul in the first Test was another reminder that he should not have been selected ahead of the out-of-favour Sulieman Benn or even Nikita Miller.
While Miller has played a solitary Test, Benn has bagged 27 wickets in the last seven of his 17 Tests, including three five-wicket hauls.
It must be said that the extremely lucky Permaul joins a group of average Guyanese players to represent West Indies in recent times like Sewnarine Chattergoon, Travis Dowlin, Leon Johnson, Royston Crandon, Brandon Bess, Derwin Christian, Assad Fudadin, Christopher Barnwell, and Narsingh Deonarine.
When I saw the big left-arm Jamaican fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell bowl for the first time a few years ago against Barbados in the regional first-class championship, I felt then that he was “a diamond in the rough”. But I must also acknowledge that it was a massive risk to select an injured and unproven fast bowler, who at the time had taken 43 wickets in 19 first-class matches after he was forced to return home from the “A” Team’s tour of India.
As it turned out, while Cottrell might have passed whatever fitness test he had to go through before the tour actually started, he didn’t look 100 per cent in his debut Test.
It is really a massive setback that Kemar Roach had to return to the Caribbean because of a shoulder injury, without playing a single match on tour. But his replacement, Shannon Gabriel, was unlucky not to be selected in the first place after impressively taking ten wickets at just 17 runs apiece in his three Tests. Somehow, his form in T20 cricket, may have been used as a yardstick for his Test omission.
It is also surprising that coach Ottis Gibson did not realize that the composition of the team for the first Test shouldn’t have been the same against a stronger Indian unit as it was for the weaker Bangladesh, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
On reflection, I think the extra batsman in Narsingh Deonarine or Kirk Edwards should’ve played instead of Permaul since Marlon Samuels has shown that he is more than capable of bowling off-spin and Chris Gayle can also trundle off-breaks.
Finally, the selectors continue to get it wrong with the captaincy roles as Dwayne Bravo or someone else should be leading the Test side and Darren Sammy captaining only the ODI and T20 teams.
Sammy’s bowling lacked spark and he must remember that he can’t play every Test innings like if it is T20 or ODI?cricket as he continues to play irresponsible shots.