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May 21, 2000
Probably no one in this part of the world has ever been groomed for a Test debut like Ramnaresh Sarwan, a little 19-year-old from Essequibo.
And the effectiveness of such a lengthy apprenticeship was emphasised in the five quality hours in which the elegant right-hander fashioned a half-century on his first Test appearance at Kensington Oval over the last two days.
His unbeaten 84, decorated with authentic strokes and highlighted by a high level of maturity, was concrete proof that Sarwan was in a league where he belonged.
Now in his fifth season at first-class level, he was quick to admit that the transition to a higher status was not so demanding after his impressive effort against Pakistan on Day 3 of the second Test.
The solution was a formula with three simple equations.
'I don't think it was difficult. It just calls for a lot of application, determination and dedication,'he said.
'Once you have those, I think you will come good at this level.'
There was not even a semblance of 'butterflies', something which Sarwan said was eliminated by a talk with team performance consultant Dr. Rudi Webster.
Asked if he would have preferred a a century or his 84 not out ' the highest score by a West Indian teenager on debut ' the two-time Nortel Youth MVP chose neither option.
'It doesn't matter. The team position is what matters and I'm pleased with that,'he said.
Born June 23, 1980 on the Essequibo island of Wakenaam, Sarwan became the youngest ever West Indian first-class cricketer when he made his debut for Guyana at the age of 15 in the 1996 Red Stripe Cup.
By the time he was given his first Test cap on Thursday morning, he was bringing with him the experience of touring with the West Indies 'A'team to South Africa, India and Bangladesh, and the 'A'team's home series against India late last year.
He was often given representative matches against international teams touring the West Indies and his claim for a Test place was enhanced by hundreds in each innings in a match against Zimbabwe this season.
Yet, he has never made a first-class hundred in regional competitions in spite of his rich talent and several promising innings that ended in the 50s, 60s or 70s.
'I think it was lack of self-belief and not being able to capitalise on the starts that I used to get,'he admitted.
'I now realise how important it is and I will just try and go on.'
There were some who felt he was suspect to balls on his body. He has managed to overcome the problem to some extent.
'But there are always things to work on and I will continue working on whatever little mistakes I have,'he said.
The former West Indies Youth team vice-captain is aware of the great expectations that were heaped upon him from the time he appeared in Guyana colours, but he refuses to let such things get the better of him.
'I'm just trying to keep that away from me and keep working hard,'he said.
'I wouldn't say that I am a veteran. I will just try and go on from strength to strength.'
© The Barbados Nation
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