April 1 is fool’s day, and Windies wicketkeeper-batsman Denesh Ramdin was wise enough to play the fool on that day, this year. Largely inconsistent in his 13-year international career, Ramdin reappeared in the Caribbean senior side after a gap of two years in a T20 game against Pakistan in Karachi.
At a time when Windies is rebuilding a side for the ICC World Cup 2019 and the ICC World T20 in 2020, Ramdin’s presence can certainly help the Hopes (Shai) and the Hetmyers (Shimron) maintain focus.
Need for seniors
Former Windies captain Ramdin and his contemporaries had a shelter in Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in their initial years but today, the constant entry and exit of seniors has curbed the knowledge-passing culture in the Caribbean national side. Most Windies cricketers prefer franchise T20 cricket these days.
“It’s all about having food on the table. The players are good enough to be taken by a team in another part of the world, then I can’t stop a player who’s out there to improve. It’s difficult to build a team given the current scenario, when you look at our World T20 players they’re in demand all over the world, so yes, we’re suffering in that aspect.
“Our senior players did not turn up for the tour, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re 2-0 down in this series,” said Ramdin, on the eve of the third and final T20 against India.
Maverick batsman Chris Gayle chose to sit out of the series citing personal reasons. Mystery spinner Sunil Narine last donned the Windies shirt a year ago. Dwayne Bravo has retired from international cricket to focus on his professional career. Andre Russell is injured — there is no end to the woes.
To emerge as a balanced unit in the limited-over World Cups, Windies needs to harness its local talent and Ramdin banks on Caribbean Premier League to dig champions.
“I’d like to use the Indian Premier League as an example. Indian cricket is so strong in all formats because of the IPL. Young players come through the system. In five years, hopefully our cricket can take off to that next level, because we have some exciting T20 and 50-over cricketers. They’ve played just one CPL tournament, and have already been picked up by Bangladesh, UAE T10 and so on,” added Ramdin, a veteran of 74 Tests, 139 ODIs and 67 T20Is.
Where are the pacers?
The Windies batsmen at least showed some heart in the ODI series. The batting effort, led by Hope and Hetmyer, led to a tie and a win. But the fast bowlers lacked the spark. Nobody could cook up a storm with speed or accuracy.
“The more you play, is better. If they (pacers) are injured, there is something wrong with the body. I don’t think a lot of fast bowlers, today, run enough. They probably spend a lot of time at the gym. But being in the gym is not being out in the middle. Cricket is a running game and fast bowling is like a marathon,” Windies pace great Sir Andy Roberts, in an interview with Sportstar , had revealed the basic problem that plagued Windies in recent years.
After Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, no Windies pacer has touched the 200 wicket-mark in ODIs. Bravo ended at 199 wickets. Jerome Taylor (128 wickets in 90 matches), Kemar Roach (113 wickets in 77 matches) and Jason Holder (112 wickets in 85 matches) — all the successors are far behind.
Ramdin feels Windies should up its game in the first-class level to manufacture better pacers. “There are some good fast bowlers coming through, I would say. But they lack in experience because our first-class series is so short. Some guys get injured and some get thrown into the big stage. But our first-class level and international level has a big gap. They still need to get up there in terms of fitness and accuracy,” he said.
Post the series against Bangladesh, Windies is expected to have a new coach as Stuart Law has put in his papers. But that is not an area of concern for Ramdin who believes, “As professional players, we need to understand our game and then, buy into the new coach’s plans.”
“Fifty overs are simple in the sense that you need to get starts, build partnerships, score centuries, take wickets upfront and in the middle overs. That’s where India have blown us away – by taking wickets in the middle. Hopefully, in six months-time, when the World Cup is around the corner, we can deliver something special with the senior guys coming in,” said Ramdin.