It will be viewed in some quarters as ‘not the done thing”, but this newspaper believes Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) president Mr Lyndel Wright has acted correctly in urging the regional selectors to explain their policy towards leading Jamaican cricketers this season.
Mr Wright, a director of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), is quoted by this newspaper as saying, “We would like to hear from chairman of selectors Clyde Butts as to why so few Jamaicans are in the senior team and ‘A’ Team set-ups. The JCA is dissatisfied and disappointed that we have a number of players doing well who have not been selected.”
Many Jamaicans will actually argue that Mr Wright should have spoken out sooner. After all, Jamaica — despite being at the crest of a wave in terms of first-class cricket in the region, having early this season won an unprecedented fifth straight fourday title — have just one representative, Mr Marlon Samuels, on the current three-Test tour of England.
His sublime batting thus far in England will have confirmed that Mr Samuels has every right to be there. Ironically though, he played no role in Jamaica’s recent regional triumph, since he was away honouring professional commitments in Asian twenty-20 leagues.
Yet until now, Jamaicans have been largely muted in expressing their dissatisfaction in regard to the selection of the Test match touring party in England — largely, we believe, because of the peculiar circumstances. The truth is that while Jamaica’s bowlers did extremely well in the regional first-class tournament, the batting was far less than satisfactory.
Apart from Mr Chris Gayle, who scored a century in the only game he played for Jamaica this season, and Mr Brendan Nash, whose aggregate of 381 in five matches included a double century, no Jamaican batsman averaged 40.
His quarrel with the WICB coupled with his professional commitments in India meant that Mr Gayle missed the Test tour of England. We hope that despite talk of “residual issues”, Mr Gayle will be part of the West Indies team for the limited overs phase of the England tour and will be fully integrated for New Zealand’s visit to the Caribbean in July and August.
In the case of Mr Nash, the feeling may have been that at age 34 he did not do enough to compel a recall following the run of low scores which led to his omission last year.
Among the bowlers, there could be no questioning the legitimacy of leftarm finger spinner Mr Nikita Miller with 49 wickets — the most by any bowler in the regional competition — at 10.75. But cold, bleak England in May is not recommended for Caribbean spinners. On that basis many analysts would have understood the decision to omit Mr Miller, especially since the off spinner Mr Shane Shillingford had done well in the home series against Australia.
But then came news that Mr Miller had been ignored for the West Indies ‘A’ squad which is now getting ready to host India A. It should be noted that another left-arm spinner, Mr Sulieman Benn of Barbados, who many consider to be the most potent spinner in the West Indies, was also ignored despite success second only to Mr Miller in the regional tournament.
For this newspaper, and we suspect also for Mr Wright, the clincher was the decision to first ignore fast bowler Mr Andrew Richardson for the ‘A’ squad and subsequently as replacement for the injured Mr Shannon Gabriel who has withdrawn from the England tour.
On the face of it, the decision to opt for Mr Tino Best as the replacement fast bowler ahead of Mr Richardson makes no logical sense, since based on statistics and other available evidence, the latter was consistently the better bowler this season. Indeed, Mr Richardson was consistently the best fast bowler in the regional tournament, all told. Also, it seems to us, Mr Richardson because of his height would surely have had more going for him in English conditions than the five feet eight inch Mr Best.
In earlier years, Mr Richardson had a history of back trouble. Could it be that that memory swayed the selectors? Chairman of selectors Mr Clyde Butts, a man of experience and wisdom, will also be aware that there are those wondering if Mr Richardson’s position as secretary of the players’ union, WIPA, may also have been a factor in his non-selection.
In the interest of all concerned, Mr Butts should respond positively to the question from the JCA president and explain the situation.