I wonder if Cricket West Indies (CWI) lead selector, Roger Harper, thinks West Indies supporters are ignorant when it comes to West Indies cricket?
Does he genuinely believe that he can continue to fool the people all of the time? How did Harper and company come up with the Test squad to tour New Zealand next month for two Test matches and three T20 matches? What was the methodology adopted (if any) to guide the selection process?
Shai Hope has been dropped and sent back to work on a programme with his franchise coach in Barbados. Perhaps he must feel that he was targeted because of the batting failures in England but when one examines the batting averages, only two players - Jermaine Blackwood and Shamar Brooks - averaged over 30. John Campbell averaged 16, yet he is on the plane to open the batting once again.
I had more faith in Hope because he has a track record, and although he has been failing, how does one know that the conditions in New Zealand may not suit him? As we all know, class is class and form is temporary. Looking back three months ago at the England series, he must have felt pressured to score runs as there was no Darren Bravo or Shimron Hetmyer and he was being paraded as the number one batsman in the team to score runs.
But on four of the six times when he went in to bat, the scores were 6 for 0, which quickly turned to 7 for 2, then 7 for 1, 1 for 1, and then 6 for 2; he must have felt additional pressure to score runs as the entire Caribbean would have rested their hopes on him.
Now, Harper says that Bravo and Hetmyer can fix the batting problems. I remember the captain said before the England tour that the team had enough talent to cope with the loss of Bravo and Hetmyer; now, it appears they will have to carry the batting on their shoulders. Oh, how times have drastically changed!
When one examines all Test squads, there would be one or two outstanding batsmen but generally, when they fail, five other batsmen have both the desire and capacity to step up to the plate. Honestly, if the two talented West Indians fail, who has that desire and capacity to step up and score steadily? I admire Roston Chase, but all (including him) are woefully inconsistent.
Then, we had to hear from Harper that Nicholas Pooran was considered and will play two four-day matches on the tour as part of the West Indies A team so that they can get a look at him in the longer format. Give me a break! Is Pooran an amateur on trial here? What happens if he supposedly fails? Does that mean he is not good enough for the longer format of the game? On the other hand, if he scores runs, will you and the other selectors apologise to the people of the Caribbean for not including him in the Test squad?
Why haven’t Shayne Moseley and Joshua Da Silva who did well in the West Indies championships and on the tour of England been given a chance? I suppose after we get beaten in the Test series the excuses will start to pour in. My dear readers, I would love nothing better than to be proven wrong but logic is telling me we have done nothing different to challenge the Kiwis. They have a bowling attack loaded with real talent - Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, and Scott Kuggeleijnin - do you remember him from the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL)? New Zealand is a team where you must fight fire with fire. The West Indies must show no fear and with Pooran in the line-up, that fear factor would have shifted back to the bowlers but, time will tell.
In the bowling department, the bowlers picked themselves except, I suppose, for Rahkeem Cornwall who went wicketless in the only Test he played. I keep hearing the name Veerasammy Permaul, who accounted for 50 wickets in the four-day tournament and another youngster who seems to be improving every year - Akeal Hosein. Why weren’t one of these two given an opportunity? Is it a rule in the West Indies’ selection policy to give players two to four opportunities before they are sidelined? It is really time these selectors show that they mean business and no longer are we going to accept substandard performances from players. Simply put, if they don’t perform to international standards we will find players who can do the job.
As for the T20 squad, I have more faith that we will do well but again, did these selectors look at the CPL at all? Why wasn’t Darren Bravo selected? Oh, how silly of me! He is a Test batsman. I would have thought with the absence of Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis that Bravo, with his experience, and as Harper himself pointed out that he has been making runs consistently in every format he has played recently, would he not add some stability to the batting had he been added to the T20 squad?
What about the bowling of Oshane Thomas? He looked ordinary for the Jamaica Tallawahs and maybe conditions might suit him in New Zealand, but I would have taken my chances with Romario Shepherd or Akeal Hosein who performed creditably in the CPL. Thankfully, Kieron Pollard will have them ready for battle and will inevitably demand nothing less than 100 per cent from all of his charges.
I sincerely hope we do well in both series, but I continue to be disturbed by the selectors’ lack of foresight in their selections. West Indian cricket fans are pleading for consistency and accountability within the realms of their team. Just as players and coaches, selectors ought to be held accountable for the performances of a team and it is easy for them to cast blame onto batsmen and say they owe more to their team but at the end of the day, who selected them? Think about it.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.