15th September 2014
A one-stop WI Rumshop round-up of Caribbean cricket comment, news & views
It’s a momentous week for West Indies cricket as they reach the milestone of their 500th Test Match, with the 2nd Test v Bangladesh, which began on Saturday in St Lucia.
This is the event that is up front and centre in most Caribbean cricket people’s minds both here in the region, and in the greater cricketing world – but two other bits of news slipped out in the last few days which have far greater consequence for West Indian cricket.
Firstly, Barbados’ Nation newspaper revealed that the Barbados Cricket Association is owed USD$6m by the Kensington Development Corporation, a real estate company that leases the Kensington Oval. KDC has defaulted on its payments to the BCA for a 4th successive year. In a cash-strapped country, a national cricket Board cannot easily cover the shortfall caused by that extent of debt.
Secondly, in Guyana, President Donald Ramotar has apparently signed the controversial cricket bill, which will once again plunge the Guyanese government into direct conflict with the WICB. Observers regard the bill as a direct hijacking of Guyana’s cricket governance, which will endanger Guyana’s role within the new WICB franchise structure, damage national schools and grassroots cricket – and paralyze the Guyana Cricket Board. It will certainly stop international cricket being played in the country, and possibly even regional cricket as well. Sean Devers reported Monday that WICB President, Dave Cameron was tight-lipped. Asked if cricket would be pulled from Guyana and Guyanese players banned from WI cricket, he responded that ‘all of that is likely’.
But back to the 500th: ESPN Cricinfo produced a marvelous timeline following West Indies’ path from 1928 to their 500th Test Match, and S Rajesh provided a detailed analysis of those first 499 Tests; while for the WIPA’s new website, Nasser Khan gave a brief history of WI cricket, as did Abhimanyu Mathur for Sportspulse. However, Colin Croft felt WI could have marked the occasion by playing more auspicious opponents – and WI already appear to be progressing smoothly towards another victory.
The 1st Test was wrapped up on Tuesday, despite some 4th Day resistance by Bangladesh, with Kemar Roach bagging 4-64 to secure victory – moving him into the ICC’s Test Match Bowler Rankings top 10. Suliemann Benn, who reckons his bowling has improved since his return to the Test side, mopped up 5 Bangladeshi 1st innings wickets on Day 3, and he felt the Bangladesi spinners bowled too slow on the surface.
Earlier, Kraigg Brathwaite became WI’s third youngest scorer of a Test double century, and Shiv Chanderpaul became Test cricket’s most capped left-handed batsman. Chanderpaul has played 158 of West Indies’ 500 Tests, and he is the only active Test cricketer to have played 25% or more of his country’s Tests.
Despite the victory, Tony Cozier felt WI were both ‘slow’ and ‘sloppy’; former WICB director, Dr Allen Sammy felt there was great room for improvement; Captain, Denesh Ramdin conceded that the fielding was a concern; while bowling coach, Sir Curtly Ambrose, praised the performance of Shannon Gabriel.
As for the tourists, ESPN Cricinfo’s Mohammad Isam decried Bangladesh’s ‘confused strategy’, and pace bowler Al-Amin Hossain was reported for a suspect action after the game. (As an aside, Bangladesh’s bowling coach, Heath Streak was this week the latest interviewee of Subash Jayaraman for Couch Talk). Hossain was still expected to play in the 2nd Test, but batsman, Imrul Kayes was ruled out of the match with a skin infection.
Also missing the Test and the celebrations was Chris Gayle, unavailable because he had to deal with a ‘personal matter’. This may have been to attend the funeral of Douglas Sang Hue, who was reportedly a close friend. Former Test umpire, Billy Doctrove paid tribute to his late colleague, and read one of the lessons at his funeral in Port Royal, Jamaica.
Guyana’s Leon Johnson was added to the squad to replace Gayle, and Ezra Stuart compared Gayle’s Test record to other great WI openers. Azad Majumder also regretted the absence for the St Lucia Test of the island’s biggest sporting hero, former WI Captain, Darren Sammy.
Present Captain, Denesh Ramdin spoke on the eve of the match, saying it would be a ‘great celebration’; and senior player, Shiv Chanderpaul expressed his pride to be part of the landmark Test. Despite the upbeat mood, some Guyanese were still ‘miffed’ that Ramdin declared with Shiv short of his hundred in the 1st Test.
The WICB announced it would be 2 tickets for the price of one for the match, and Johnson became WI’s 300th Test cricketer, and 48th from Guyana. Normally a middle-order batsman, he was pressed into opening and made 66 on debut, before being unfortunate to be given out lbw to a ball DRS indicated was missing the stumps. At close of play on Day 1, Johnson spoke to the media, and admitted he’d been too slow to review his dismissal.
At the time of writing, Day 2 has just completed, and Bangladesh are facing a second successive heavy defeat, with Kemar Roach having once again exposed their batting frailties.
The 500 mark also gave regional writers pause to reflect: Tony Cozier rued the once great West Indies’ decline, but was optimistic about the process of reorganisation underway in the Caribbean, including the new franchised Regional 4-day competition. In Guyana, the addition of foreign players to their line up is welcomed; while in Jamaica, the restructuring is fully supported by the Jamaican Cricket Association’s President, Billy Heaven – although there were reports that veteran seamer, Andrew Richardson may miss out on a JCA contract.
However, in the Jamaica Gleaner, Tony Becca accused WI cricket of selling out to non-Caribbean influences, although WICB President, Dave Cameron insisted on TV that the new system is now in place, and will be a success. Former President, Julian Hunte was honoured in his homeland on the opening day of the St Lucia Test, and was hailed as an icon by Cameron.
Courtney Walsh revealed that resigning from the Jamaica Cricket Association to take up his position as a WI selector was a difficult decision, but he backed himself and his colleagues to improve fortunes: ‘I think the selection team we have can make a difference’. The Berbice Cricket Board was the latest to congratulate Clive Lloyd on his appointment as Convenor of Selectors, as did Guyana’s PPP. Meanwhile, the Guyana Cricket Board hopes to make improvements to the nation’s schools cricket to help develop its youngsters. With reported government meddling underway, they’ll need all the help they can get.
After Bangladesh, next on West Indies’ horizon is the tour of India, and a revised itinerary was issued this week, with it being reported that political interference may yet put the venue of the 2nd ODI in doubt. Ahead of their upcoming games against Australia, Michael Holding wrote that India are far more suited to one-day cricket than Tests, and Holding himself was recalled as one of the giants of the great WI team of the 1980s by Wisden India’s Dileep Premachandran.
Samuel Badree told the the New Indian Express that spin is flourishing in the Caribbean, and Omari Banks advised the selectors to take 3 spinners on the tour to India. Banks was again in the studio for the latest edition of Line and Length. Also in the show, Andrew Sealey caught up with the Barbados Tridents ahead of their involvement in the Champions League T20.
The CLT20 qualifying round began on Saturday, and the holders, Mumbai Indians, as expected, confirmed Kieron Pollard as their captain, after he reiterated that his first loyalty is to them. Abhijit Banare profiled Pollard for Cricket Country, while Shiamak Unwalla listed ‘five reasons why the tournament fails to attract attention’.
In their 2nd game, Mumbai bounced back and beat Southern Express by 9 wickets. Man of the Match was Lendl Simmons with 76no, while Pollard was undefeated on 20, but he was still looking to his team to improve. Mumbai Indians’ 3rd qualifying game is on Tuesday against Northern Districts.
Meanwhile, Dwayne Bravo has been declared fit for the Chennai Super Kings, whose 1st match is on Wednesday; and Dennis Freedman reminded us why Sunil Narine keeps choosing T20 tournaments ahead of Test cricket.
The CPL winners, the Barbados Tridents play their 1st game v King’s XI Punjab on September 20th, and Ravi Rampaul has backed the Tridents’ team spirit. Rampaul also feels the tournament is the perfect preparation for WI’s tour of India. Ravi is one of four Trinidad & Tobago players representing the Tridents, including Captain, Rayad Emrit who was congratulated on his appointment by the TTCB’s President, Azim Bassarath.
Bassarath this week called for a report on the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba to be made public, after T&T’s Minister of Finance suggested the facility may never be used for cricket. The T&T government had its budget this week, and Anand Rampersad was distressed at the lack of detail regarding support for national sports, sporting development and infrastructure.
Brian Lara himself was doing what he could to help fund the building of a cricket stadium in Rwanda. You can find more information about the charity match he appeared in and the foundation’s project here, while on the WIPA’s website, Kumar Sangakkara paid tribute to his fellow left-hander.
The West Indies A Team will be touring Sri Lanka later this year, and the Sri Lankans have already announced their squad. The WICB are yet to announce theirs, although the Jamaica Star reported that Marlon Samuels is training with them.
West Indies Women won the 1st and 2nd of their 4-ODI series v New Zealand, by 5 wickets and by 65 runs. Tremayne Smartt took 5 wickets in the opening encounter and was delighted with her performance, while Anisa Mohammed became the 1st WI Women bowler to reach 100 ODI scalps. She too spoke after the game. In the 2nd match, Deandra Dottin made 82no, and she expressed her impatience with the media. Brief Highlights of the 1st ODI are available here and here.
The series is part of the ICC’s World Women’s Championship, and West Indies Women’s Captain, Merissa Aguilleira hailed the competition as ‘a great initiative’. She, and Head Coach, Sherwin Campbell spoke to WICB media on the eve of the series. West Indies Women’s squad included uncapped 16-year-old Barbadian, Hayley Matthews. The New Zealanders for their part felt better prepared than they were for their last visit to the Caribbean.
Elsewhere, the Berbice Cricket Association’s 75th anniversary celebrations continued with the unveiling of a portrait of Rohan Kanhai, and it honoured 6 of its former Board members, inducting them into an Administrators’ Hall of Fame; and Sean Devers reported that 3 members of WI’s Blind cricket team to visit South Africa in November will be from Guyana.
In Barbados, the National Assistance Board marked Senior Citizens Month by paying tribute to several of the island’s senior Legends; and to mark the opening of the Senior’s T20 tournament, members of the Barbados XI, which played against a Rest of the World XI at Kensington Oval in 1967, were gathered together at the University of the West Indies.
Imran Khan was announced as Trinidad & Tobago’s National Senior Cricketer of the Year, awarded by the TTCB, with Denesh Ramdin receiving their International Player of the Year accolade; and Roy Singh, the moving force behind the proposed Canadian Premier League T20 tournament, in which several WI cricketers have reputedly invested, gave his latest interview, on Sportsnet.
David Oram is the resident ‘statto’, and sometime presenter of ‘Mason & Guests’ – Voice of Barbados’ weekly cricket talk show, the leading cricket radio show in the West Indies – hosted by the Caribbean’s principal radio commentator, Andrew Mason. You can tweet me at DavidOram@colblimp1983.