For the greater good of West Indies cricket

Saturday, October 07, 2017

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The West Indies cricket selectors have stuck with the same Test match squad which recently lost 1-2 to England in that country for the short, two-Test tour of Zimbabwe which begins later this month.

In a real sense, the decision by chairman of selectors Mr Courtney Browne and his panel is understandable. After all, the West Indies surprised most cricket watchers by convincingly beating England in the second Test at Headingly, Leeds — the first time the Caribbean side had won a Test match in England since 2000.

Yet there could be no question that some members of that Test match squad seemed not quite up to the task. The same could be said of the follow-up, five-match 50-overs tournament which England won 4-0, with one game rained out.

We dare not forget that the West Indies, defending T20 world champions, did beat England in the only such fixture on tour.

But to get back to our main point: while the selectors are showing patience with underperforming players, it's obvious that won't last forever. There are a few who will have to step up or find themselves at risk of missing the two-Test and limited overs tour of New Zealand in November to early January.

The limited overs segment of that New Zealand tour will take on special significance since West Indies — having failed to automatically qualify for the 2019 50-over World Cup — must take on traditionally lesser cricketing nations in a qualifying tournament next year.

It all means that Mr Browne and his fellow selectors must now be contemplating possible replacements for current underperformers.

All of which underlines the importance of the series of games between West Indies A and Sri Lanka A, which opens next Wednesday at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium at Florence Hall, just outside Falmouth. Two unofficial Tests are to be played at the Trelawny venue, another at Sabina Park, as well as a series of limited overs games at both stadiums.

In reality then, while followers of West Indies cricket will be anxious for a good showing by their team in Zimbabwe, of equal importance will be the performance of fringe players in the A-team series.

To quote Mr Browne: “Our 'A' team is the feeding ground for our senior men's team, and so we are looking to continue the development of our second-tier players. With a strong focus on consistency in selection, this series is another opportunity for them to continue to press their claims for a place in the senior side, thus placing selection pressure on incumbents, ensuring there is healthy competition for spots, and growing our talent pool.”

Let's not forget that the regional, four-day professional tournament, which provides the talent pool for the West Indies team, is also due to begin later this month.

We expect that Caribbean cricketers at all levels will hold their heads high and give of their very best for the greater good of West Indies cricket, as they face the many challenges ahead.




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