Windies must rethink their team selection to maximise their chances of rallying after a crushing defeat in the first Test to England, says Michael Holding, yesterday.
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The indomitable Tamar Lambert
It is hearty congratulations to the Jamaicans at having won yet another regional cricket competition, a feature that they have managed especially in longer versions these last several years. At a time when West Indies international teams have struggled to have permanent, functional, effective, fully contributing leaders, perhaps even a “one-for-all” captaincy for all three formats, it is a fact that one of the most successful captains ever in Caribbean cricket has never been mentioned for selection at all. I have been doing sports journalism since 1993/4, when England toured these parts, so I have been involved in media work when Tamar Lansford Lambert, Jamaica’s captain, made his first-class debut in 2004. During the last 20 years, I have seen many truly mediocre players represent our West Indies. Yet, at no time in his entire career, which now spans 86 first-class games, have I heard anywhere that Lambert, as cultivated, calculated, conscientious, always contributing as a batting all-rounder, as victorious a captain as anyone could name, should be a candidate for West Indies playing honours. That in itself is such a massive shame, as much lesser players and non-contributors have done exactly that, played relatively regularly for West Indies, in all formats, with general non-production overall.
In the last ten years, no cricket player anywhere in the Caribbean has had a more raw deal from selectors, for international honours, than Lambert! His leadership skills in winning 2014 George Headley/Sir Everton Weekes Trophy, when Jamaica led Windward Islands on first innings in the final, and won by points, is yet another culmination of Lambert’s excellent abilities. Ironically, only last week, West Indies ODI captain Dwayne Bravo was complaining that he was peeved at not being selected more often, recently, for West Indies in Tests. While certainly not as flamboyant on the field as Dwayne Bravo, I would wager that in especially regional first-class cricket, our preamble to Test cricket, Lambert has efficiently and effectively produced much more consistently for Jamaica than Dwayne Bravo has done for Trinidad & Tobago.
Reputations do not normally make runs or get wickets. Proper performances do! Even with actual numbers as evidence, Lambert has never been selected, perhaps not even considered for selection at all, for any international game to represent West Indies. Amazing! Lambert, now 33, was obviously born quite intelligent too, as shown on his date of birth, since he was born on the Ides of March, as was yours truly. That alone qualified him to succeed despite severe external stimuli. Nothing or nobody, despite massive continuing efforts, could keep people like us down. We are not arrogant, just fully confident. On his birthday, March 15, 1981, I was even busy making my highest Test score—also 33, out of a 57-run second innings, second-wicket partnership with Desmond Haynes—as night-watchman, in that Test at Barbados that all remember for Michael Holding’s brilliant bowling spells against England, especially Geoff Boycott.
Few even remember that I actually had the most wickets in the game—match figures of seven of the 20 available wickets for 104 runs, from 32.5 overs, as West Indies won by 298 runs.
Unbelievably, I did not even merit any mention at all in Wisden’s match report of that Test!
Lambert, like me, must have realised eons ago that being born on the Ides of March is not always fortunate, for it was also on that date that great Julius Caesar was assassinated by his so-called friends! At 33, and as quoted by Julius Caesar: “Alea iacta est”—the die is already cast—for Lambert. I doubt very much that he could be selected for West Indies in the future, especially given that massive myth that people of some girth and additional weight could not perform properly. Interestingly, over the last ten years, Lambert has outperformed most of his contemporaries! In 86 first-class games, Lambert has made 4,173 runs, including three centuries and 28 fifties, average 28.97, and has 67 wickets at 25.26 average with his occasional off-breaks. He has also been quite economical and instrumental in Jamaica’s success in both T20 and 50-overs competitions in his ten years in teams that represent that country.
Sometimes forced to demit office when Chris Gayle or Dave Bernard Jr was given Jamaica’s captaincy, Lambert almost always found himself being called upon, on failures by his more illustrious team-mates to produce victories, to return to the captaincy and his normal continued success. This year was one of his less productive years, but he still managed to captain Jamaica to victory in the Weekes/Headley tournament, while also producing a marvelous, much needed century, 121, for himself and team, against Barbados in their semi-final, a game that Jamaica won by one wicket! There is really only one word to describe Tamar Lambert—indomitable. He never gives up and always gives 100 per cent effort for Jamaica!
At 33 though, he can still contribute considerably to Jamaica’s continued upward cricketing mobility for another ten or so years as both player and especially coach and mentor.
One only hopes that he continues on. Enjoy!