A convenient solution to dilemma
Curtly Ambrose's indefinable injury to his right, bowling arm has provided the West Indies selectors with a convenient solution to a difficult dilemma.
Instead of having to explain that they omitted the champion fast bowler from the team to New Zealand as a matter of policy, they could use the injury as a legitimate reason when the 16 were announced yesterday.
The selection committee were of the view that, having sustained an injury to his right elbow on the tour of Sharjah (last month), he could not return to full fitness and match readiness in time for the tour, the statement from West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) secretary Andrew Sealy claimed.
It was plausible for Ambrose was eliminated from the recent Red Stripe Bowl as well on doctors orders. Whether he would have been chosen if in fine fettle and raring to go is a moot point.
Pertinently, Jimmy Adams, also injured in Sharjah and forced out of the Bowl, has been given the chance to prove his fitness. To do so, he has been appointed captain of the A team to play against India A in the first of two Tests in Trinidad next week.
Findlay announced prior to the recent One-Day tournaments in Singapore, Toronto, Dhaka and Sharjah that Ambrose and his perennial partner, the great Courtney Walsh, would be alternated to give the younger fast bowlers some more responsibility.
He did not say whether the strategy would be extended to the Test series but, whatever the reasons, Ambroses absence provides a chance to one of the many candidates in line to take their places when the two veterans, both in their late 30s, take their final bows.
As it is, Ambrose has only bowled 24 overs seriously since the World Cup ended in May and would have had only two warm-up first-class matches in New Zealand before the back-to-back Tests start December 16.
Walsh, for whom fitness has seldom been a problem during his 15 years in international cricket, is left to spearhead the attack once more. He needs another 12 wickets to surpass Indias Kapil Devs 434 and become Test crickets highest wicket-taker. The last time he was in New Zealand, as captain in 1995, he collected that many and one more in one Test alone.
His pace support will be provided by Mervyn Dillon and the left-arm Pedro Collins, the lone survivors from last seasons series against Australia, and Reon King and Franklyn Rose, who have had differing fortunes since the turbulent tour of South Africa.
Rose lost fitness, through torn ligaments in his bowling shoulder, and favour, through an alleged spat with captain Brian Lara and an unpaid hotel bill. He has regained both since and, as a high quality swing bowler suited to New Zealand conditions, is predictably back.
Also back after drifting into obscurity after South Africa is Daren Ganga, the 21-year-old right-hand batsman from Trinidad. He owes his recall to the promise he has shown, not to his subsequent record that has been unconvincing.
Ricardo Powell and Wavell Hinds, the two young Jamaican batsmen, are the only ones in the squad without Test experience. But they have travelled more extensively and played in more diverse venues in the few months they have been in international cricket than some do in a lifetime.
Squad: Brian Lara (captain), Sherwin Campbell, Adrian Griffith, Daren Ganga, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ricardo Powell, Wavell Hinds, Jimmy Adams, Ridley Jacobs, Dinanath Ramnarine, Franklyn Rose, Reon King, Courtney Walsh, Mervyn Dillon, Nehemiah Perry, Pedro Collins