Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Lost Souls

The West Indies under 19 team recently completed an extremely successful series against their Australian counterparts. Winning the one day series two games to one and the only youth 'test' by 4 wickets, thanks to another hundred by Kraigg Brathwaite. This made me remember another good WI U-19 team, the under 19 team of 2004 that made the finals of the youth world cup , losing the finals to Pakistan in Bangladesh. 

Of the squad members that participated in that tournament only four players went on to represent the senior West Indies in ODI and test matches. Of the foursome only one, Denesh Ramdin had an extended run in the team, the rest of the squad fell by the wayside.

The WICB should have had systems in place to ensure that the majority of this squad formed the nucleus of the future West Indies teams. Most of the players were left to fend for themselves, this resulted in the majority of the team not fulfilling their cricketing potential to the maximum.

Players such as Jonathan Augustus, Zamal Khan and Rishi Bachan have not been heard of in any significant manner since 2004. There are also the few name that might sound familiar to the few who follow the regional game. Assad Fudadin, Liam Sebastian and Mervin Matthew have managed to become somewhat regular first class cricketers but they have certainly not set the world alight. Then there is the case of Tishan Maraj, who gave up cricket to successfully pursue a career in medicine, now struggling to make the T&T team.

Xavier Marshall, Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul should be known to the few readers of this blog, have made it due to their own determination to reach the highest level. It appears that this was achieved without any major WICB assistance.

From the current West Indies situation (some might say calamitous) we can no longer just depend on natural ability. There needs to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders in the game to convert teams of natural ability into teams of feared cricketers. In fact all members of the current under 19 team should be drafted into the Sagicor High performance Centre. To turn the boys into a mean cricketing machine.

If something like this is not done, the players may suffer the same fate as the members of the 2004 team. The likes of Kraigg Brathwaite will definitely play for the senior team sooner rather than later, given his knack for scoring hundreds for fun and his obvious desire for the game. Its the other players that may need the help.

Providing the WICB finds the right balance between youth and experience, then maybe then will we see a change in the fortunes of West Indies cricket.       

Thursday, 21 April 2011

WI v Pakistan T20I 2011

Krishmar Santokie must be wondering what must I do to get selected to play a T20I for the West Indies. It probably was taken for granted that he would have made his debut against Pakistan, so when the team was announced his name was nowhere to be seen. Although the game was won against the best efforts of Ravi Rampaul to loose it, the selection of the final eleven could have been better.

Ashley Nurse who was selected as the second spinner or some might say slow blower since there is not much spin involved, should have made way for Santokie. Santokie was the leading bowler in the Caribbean T20 and have and overall T20 record of 13 games, 26 wickets, 9.57 average, 5.61 economy rate, 10.2 strike rate. While Nurse's record after 11 games is 16 wickets, 15.37 average, 6.77 economy rate, 13.6 strike rate.

Clearly Santokie has the better bowling record, maybe it was Nurse's slightly better batting record that gave him the edge for this game. Only the selectors can answer this, but wouldn't it be better to have someone who is excellent at one aspect of the game (fielding not included since all players should be good fielders) as opposed to a player who is decent in all aspects. In addition there seems to be no rewarding bowlers for performing well in the domestic competition.

The game itself was good to look at in most parts, Andre Fletcher has again failed at the international level and he must learn that he could use his bat to hit the ball and not his pads, doing this may improve his statistics from an average of 10.61 and strike rate of 91.39. There was good batting by Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo who carried the West Indies from 2 for 1 to 101 for 2, Simmons played like a man with a point to prove and showed everyone that it was a mistake not to take him to the CWC, he showed great skill against both spin and pace.

Bravo's knock was a good one, but again he got out with a big score in sight by poor shot selection. If the shot had gone for six it would have been hailed as a great shot, but the fact is it didn't and it caused a promising innings to come to a premature end. This is an aspect of his game that Desmond Haynes will no doubt be looking into.

Marlon Samuels had a match to forget, from struggling to put the ball into the gaps to almost dropping Umar Akmal. That being said it was good to see him back in West Indies colours and undoubtedly he will shine in the ODI's and test matches.

Take nothing away from this team, this was a good win given all that went on off the field of play that could have distracted the players. In the weeks to come there may be more disclosures about the Chris Gayle saga and the dropping of Chanderpaul and Sarwan. Given the importance of West Indies cricket to the region, the minutes of all selection meeting should be made public. This would go a long way into eliminating the I say, they say banter.

Saturday brings a whole new challenge too this team, one that they should make the best off and shock the cricketing world. To the WICB, stop being so secretive and make everything public. Good luck guys and may you have a great game this Gloria Saturday

Monday, 11 April 2011

Johnnie's Fry Bake: Memories

Johnnie's Fry Bake: Memories: "In 1997 I was a trainee at the local sugar factory when we were all called into a room at the HR building and told that they will no longer ..."


In 1997 I was a trainee at the local sugar factory when we were all called into a room at the HR building and told that they will no longer be continuing our programme with immediate effect. This of course came as a shock to everyone, who now had to wonder where would we get training or even a job.

It was months before I was able to secure a job, during which time I had the bright idea to stop training with the Dow Village Cricket Club and try my luck with the nationally known Wanderers Cricket Club. To my surprise they were very accommodating of new players and I was welcomed quite warmly and even given the nickname as "Wimpy" since they say I resembled the skippers brother who had the same nickname. You could imagine the confusion this caused.

The training was rigorous, starting with many laps around the ground, then batting, bowling and fielding. Since there was no nets, all practice sessions took place in the middle, the evening was finished with catching practice. I didn't mind it at all since I was practising alongside players such as Richard SieuchanMarlon BlackDenis Rampersad, the latter two and myself went to the same schools from primary all the way to secondary school. This made acclimatization into the club so much easier. 

Practice had an intensity that I had never seen, probably due to the fact that at this level getting onto the first team meant there was a chance to be seen by the national selectors. One incident that has stayed with me was when a player known as Charlie (Rajendra Mangalie) was padding up to bat and Marlon Black insisted that he wore his helmet. After much deliberation he finally put it on, after about six or seven deliveries he got a short quick delivery from Black which somehow got between the grill of the helmet and left Charlie on the floor bleeding heavily from a nasty gash over his eye. Guess who was padded up next.....ME!!!!!

So I went into bat nervous as a man skinny dipping with piranhas, first few deliveries I was tentative, played and missed a lot, lost my stumps many times, until the coach asked me if I was batting with a tyre and suggested that I should start playing hop-scotch. After that I started to actually bat, hit quite a few nice shots, man I was playing like a pro, that was until I hit Mr Black for a cover drive that had the crowd on its feet (yes there were crowds at training). It was immediately after this shot for which I posed for pictures, that I realized I had a problem with short 90mph deliveries aimed at my head. I was bombarded with so much by the future WI quickie that I was the most relieved man when my stint was over.

The first match of the season was an away game against Queen's Park Cricket Club and to my surprise my name was on the team sheet. I was going to be playing at the Queen's Park Oval, I was as happy as a vagrant on jouvert morning. Stepping onto the field at the Oval for the warm up, the first thing I noticed was my reflection when I looked down on the outfield, at this point it didn't matter that I was the 12th man. We lost the toss and had to field first and of course being 12th man I was soon called onto the field as a substitute, did I mind.....hell no.....I was diving for balls that was hit straight at me, such a good time I was having.

The rest of the season I played mostly B-teams games which was quite fun and competitive. It also kept us quite fit for whenever a chance came up to join the first team. Sadly for me my only other time on the first team was another 12th man appearance, this time against Clarke Road United at their Wilson Road ground in Penal South Trinidad.The facilities there was a far cry from what I experienced at the Oval but it was a wonderful experience, which made me realize that people from South Trinidad are much friendlier than their northern counterparts.

During this time with the second team, the first team had made the finals of the Carib Shield 30 over a side night cricket finals at Guaracara Park against arch rivals Moosai Sports who had Tony Gray in their ranks. I made sure I had on my team training kit and reached at Gilbert Park to catch the team bus, all in an attempt to get into the ground free since I didn't make the team and was still unemployed.

Guaracara Park was filled to its 10,000 spectator capacity, there was no room between boundary line and spectator which prompted the skipper to say to the guys focus on the game and not on the sexy legs in the crowd!!! I was not playing so I was focusing on the sexy legs. The game itself was an excellent match, with Wanderers winning thanks to a century by Deonarine Deyal, even Tony Gray's super fast bowling couldn't save Moosai on that night. After that all I could remember was getting on the team bus, stopping by every bar between Guaracara Park and Gilbert Park, and trust me in Trinidad there is a lot. I have no idea on how or when I got home.

That game was at the end of what I would call an interesting season, and I was counting down the days to the next season. however, I was offered a job at one of the petrochemical plants and I suddenly the time for cricket was no longer there. It was substituted by work and when not in work, liming, and more liming. 

Would I have been a better cricketer if I had remained unemployed? Maybe I could have made the T&T team? I don't know the answers to those questions, what I do know is that I love how my life turned out and that my love for the game is still there. Who knows I may still pad up and test my skills against the younger generation........now where did I put my box!!!!!!

Thursday, 7 April 2011


"In the event of the teams in either semi final finishing on an equal number of points the right to advance to the final will be the team which gained the greater number of points when the two teams (of the teams which competed in the semi final) competed against each other in the group stage of the tournament"

This is the rule for the regional 4-day tournament that was in force long before the competition started. It's probably not the fairest rule as it does not reward a team for playing well during the entire season. That being said, this rule is very straightforward, and should not have caused the level of confusion that happened after T&T v Jamaica semi final. In that game Jamaica scored 664 all out and T&T replied with 448 for 9. This resulted in a no result where both teams finished with equal points.

According to the rule for the semi final "the right to advance to the final will be the team which gained the greater number of points when the two teams competed against each other in the group stage of the tournament". The group game between these two teams ended as follows: Jamaica 356 and 226 for 5 dec. T&T 279 and 248 for 5. Jamaica winning on first innings gained 6 points while T&T gained 3 points. My basic level maths tell me that 6 is greater than 3 and according to the rules Jamaica advanced to the finals.

The fact that the TTCB filed an injunction to stop the final was in poor taste and gave the impression that they are sore losers. How could the team management interpret the rule as saying that T&T would qualify due to finishing in a higher position baffles most people, except of course the majority of T&T cricket fans who kept saying that T&T were the better team and they should play in the finals. This silly injunction was swiftly denied by the sitting judge in the Port of Spain high court.

It could also be an avenue to distract the population from the fact that the decision making upon winning the toss was wrong. Also if T&T is the better team as many like to claim then why were they unable to bowl out the Jamaicans for a much lower score, they were simply batted into submission and like a true wounded animal or politician they are now clutching at straws in an attempt to hide their own ability.

T&T should be satisfied with an excellent season thus far, CT20 champions, 2nd place in the 4-day league (higher than the much vaunted English Lions) and a date with destiny the Airtel CLT20 in India. 20/20 cricket is where T&T are way above all other regional teams and even many first class teams in the world. This claim can be substantiated with the evidence that T&T has only lost competitive T20 games to Guyana and the New South Wales Blues.

To Trinidad & Tobago cricket, accept the results which were correct according to the rules and try to figure out where improvements are needed and begin planning for what should be an exciting Airtel CT20 tournament. Good luck to CCC and Jamaica in the finals and let the best team win.