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A THORNY ISSUE: Losing faith in Carlos


ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Losing faith in Carlos

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THE BUCK FOR retaining out-of-form all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite in the one-day cricket team stops with the West Indies selectors.

He’s not responsible for selecting himself. Let’s accept that and recognise that’s the heart of the matter.

In this situation only the Courtney Browne-led panel can appoint and disappoint.

The voices in the region, especially among his own flock, have called for Brathwaite’s head on a platter following a string of poor performances since his World T20 heroics last year in India.

Quite frankly, he has gone from hero to zero in the eyes of fans who want to know “what have you done for me lately?”

They are not expected to apply any rocket science in seeking the answer to the question because if we reduce cricket to mere bat and ball, runs and wickets, they are right to speculate about his immediate future in the team or even call for him to be axed and make room for someone more deserving at this time.

Investment

The selectors at times apparently view such matters through very different lens. And they seem to be doing so right now in relation to Brathwaite.

I recall Browne defending the all-rounder’s place in the team on the Midwicket radio show by saying that they see him as an investment for the future and that’s why they were keeping faith with him.

carlos-brathwaite-and-marlon-samuels-040416We all know that some investments simply don’t work out or that they take some time to come to fruition. Short, medium or long-term investments are projections with no start-up guarantee of success. This is now the conversation that the selectors need to assess or revisit in the case of a talented cricketer who seems to be acutely short on confidence at the moment.

There are others who will state that in any case Brathwaite doesn’t have strong claims to be in the team based on his overall regional and international statistics in one-day matches with bat and ball.

Saw unique ability

That he has made it to the West Indies team implies that the selectors saw potential or some form of unique ability that caused them to see him as an investment for the long term.

There are times when selectors have gambled on a player’s raw, natural talent and they have been proven right. Such moments, though, are as rare as seeing the rainbow around the moon.

We can recall that the likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft had only played a handful of matches for their respective regional teams when they were fast-tracked into the West Indies team.

These were investments that paid great dividends and Holding and Garner went on to become legends. Croft would more than likely be in that category if he had jeopardised his international career by going to South Africa during the apartheid era.

In the Brathwaite scenario, we would have to ask what time frame the selectors have set for him to come good consistently and how much more patience they can have, particularly when there are strong contenders vying for his position.

When you listen to the call-in shows you regularly hear the names of Rovman Powell and Raymond Reifer, who deserve a chance based on merit. I am really surprised, too, that nobody besides David Comissiong bats for Kevin Stoute on this issue.

Yes, it is a big step up from regional to international cricket, but you can choose the players based only on how they perform at the regional level and there’s no telling what they will do once promoted to the highest standard.

Fuel to the fire

This was the argument before and still is and it adds more fuel to the fire of those who want Brathwaite out. Nobody who is interested in logic and fairness should disagree with their stance, but it’s out of their hands.

I don’t regard myself as an expert on cricket technique and so on, but just maybe the World Cup hero’s current struggles may have very little to do with his ability to play cricket but more one of handling pressure and regaining lost confidence.

The expectations were huge after his performance in the T20 final and he hasn’t been able to replicate even a semblance of that prowess in any form of the game since.

Consequently, it would appear that it has affected his self-belief and the confidence that made him an overnight star, a man very much in demand, especially in the shortest version of the sport.

If this is the primary reason for current failure, I think it is up to Brathwaite to dig deep within himself and review some of the other successes he has had in life as a way of reigniting a flame that temporarily may have been blown out.

Until then, the selectors will be forced to review their investment in him as the resistance from the public gains momentum.

• Andi Thornhill is a veteran sports journalist. Email [email protected]

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