Why Sarwan, Gayle & Co. were not in Kenya

Rick Eyre

October 6, 2000

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The West Indies' stay in Kenya for the ICC KnockOut was a brief one. Their cameo appearance was all over on day two, taking a 108-run thumping at the hands of Sri Lanka on Wednesday. They are now on their way home with a first round losers' cheque of $US 20,000 in hand. Jimmy Adams is a leading contender for the tournament's Thanks-For-Coming Award for straining his side in training and missing the game completely.

The West Indies Cricket Board's decision to send an inexperienced team to Kenya raised more than a few eyebrows. There were players missing who were carrying injuries. There were players missing who were jaded after a long and unsuccessful tour of England. There were players missing named Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh who were mounting their horses and riding off into the cricketing sunset.

And there were players missing who were sent to the Australian Cricket Academy instead.

England tourists Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle are among five West Indian players currently doing a six-week stint at the world's most highly respected cricketing academy in Adelaide. Ricardo Powell, the big-hitting Jamaican who has failed to live up to his early promise, is also at the Academy, as are Trinidad & Tobago opening batsman and four-Test veteran Daren Ganga, along with 18 year-old speedster Jamaican fast bowler Jermaine Lawson, who took a hat-trick in the Under-19 World Cup at the start of this year.

The five West Indians have been included in a roster of Academy players who will appear in three one-day matches against Tasmania in Adelaide this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The remaining players in the squad are mostly fringe players on the edge of first-class selection for the Australian state sides.

Lawson has already played for the Australian Cricket Academy in a four day match against the Queensland Academy of Sport (effectively the Queensland Second XI) last month. In the first innings he took 0/65, but removed two leading batsmen in the second innings to finish his six-over spell with 2/24.

The WICB's decision to send reputable international players to school instead of to a major ICC event is one that will arouse debate, however with West Indian cricket facing a major long-term battle to regain its world ranking, this move may well have been the correct one.

Gayle, Ganga and Sarwan will play for the Academy in Monday's match against Tasmania at Adelaide Oval No.2. Powell, Gayle, Ganga and Lawson will take the field on Tuesday at Adelaide's evocatively-named Park 25, while Sarwan and Powell are rostered to play on Wednesday, also at Park 25.

Monday's game between the Australian Cricket Academy and Tasmania will be covered live on CricInfo.

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