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Ramdin must lead from front
Congratulations to Denesh Ramdin on being named the 35th test captain of the West Indies since its first test match in 1928. It is not surprising that the West Indies Board has announced the change given the recent poor performances of the West Indies in its last two test series away to India (2-0) and then New Zealand (2-0).
Ramdin’s ascendancy to the captaincy is not by default. He was earmarked for the position as a youth player and have served as West Indies vice-captain on more than one occasion. He has captained the West Indies in three ODIs and a T20. Additionally, he has experience from captaining the T&T senior team on 37 occasions with 21 wins.
As Ramdin enters a new chapter in his cricketing life, he has to recognise an honour has been conferred upon him to lead one of the most important institutions in the Caribbean. The West Indies cricket team and the University of the West Indies are probably the only two institutions in the region that have consistently brought Caribbean people together. As such he has to take the opportunity with both hands and demonstrate to himself, the West Indies team and the region that he deserves the position. He has to accept the fact that being regional captain is very demanding and this becomes even more evident with the team tottering in 8th position in the ICC rankings only ahead of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Everyone expects a quick reversal of the current adversity which has its genesis 18 years ago when the West Indies surrendered the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy in 1996, 3-2 to Mark Taylor’s Australian team in the Caribbean.
As much as Ramdin has experience as captain of T&T, captaining the West Indies will present greater challenges as the team is drawn from many nationalities and cultures as well as the fact that insularity or the claims of it have always tainted the regional game especially when the team is not doing well. Therefore, it will be wise of Ramdin to have a few conversations with persons of the ilk of Clive Lloyd and Sir Vivian Richards who led the West Indies in the heights of its glory days when winning was a habit. The great West Indian players do have a role to play in the redevelopment of our style of play.
Whenever someone is appointed captain, it means that the selectors have confidence that the person has the ability to lead a group of talented and skillful players both individually and collectively to perform at their optimum potential. Therefore, every leader has to have their own philosophy and leadership style which has to be communicated clearly to the players so they will know what is expected of them. The players have to feel at ease and enjoy what they do. The leader has to demonstrate effective human resource management skills. Nothing is necessarily natural about leadership.
Ramdin has to take a page from some of his contemporaries such as Michael Clarke and Alistair Cook, who have scored tons of runs since assuming the captaincy of their respective countries. After 56 test matches, 2235 runs at an average of 27.25 with 4 centuries and 11 50’s, there is room for improvement which if achieved would not only redound to the team but also put him alongside the most successful West Indies wicketkeeper batsmen and test captain.
Starting off his test captaincy against 6th ranked New Zealand in the West Indies may be beneficial to getting his feet wet in the job. However, New Zealand should not be taken lightly as their recent record suggest. The series should be a good testing start of Ramdin’s captaincy. An easy series against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh would not have been a good gauge.
As focus is on Ramdin, it is easy to forget his predecessor, Darren Sammy and his tenure as captain. History will not necessarily remember him as a successful captain, but there is no denying that whenever Sammy walked onto the field of play he gave 150 per cent, one only has to be reminded of his effort against Australia in the recent T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Sammy gave his best within his limitations and although he has retired from test cricket, he has a lot to offer in the shortest version of the game, T20 for which he is captain.
It is hoped that the change in leadership will spark an overall resurgence in the fortunes of the West Indies test team to period of world dominance. Time will tell if its wishful thinking, a dream or a possible reality.