April 18, 2001

Garrick a late inclusion in WI Test XI

The West Indies selectors, Mike Findlay, Joel Garner, Joey Carew, Roger Harper and captain Carl Hooper, dropped a bombshell on Wednesday afternoon. Not only did they include an opening batsman who was not even in the West Indies team's touring squad 24 hours ago, but they have also dropped two of the more promising young cricketers, as seen over the ensuing Test series against South Africa.

Carl Hooper
Hooper - selector and captain
Photo CricInfo

Into the team comes Leon Vivian Garrick, the 24-year-old right-handed Jamaican opening batsman, for his very first Test match, a move probably prompted by his magnificent 174 not out against the touring South Africans last weekend at Jarrett Park, on Jamaica's north-western coast.

In nine games in the regional Busta Cup first-class series of 2001, Garrick made 801 runs, including one double century, 200 not out, plus another century, and four half centuries, finishing the regional first-class series with a batting average of 50.06.

When Garrick got that double century, he shared a record opening partnership of 425 with Chris Gayle, who finished with 208 not out. Now, coincidentally, Garrick will open the innings with Gayle for his first Test.

Making his first-class debut against the Leeward Islands in 1997, Garrick scored a century against Trinidad & Tobago, and another against the then tourists, India, led by Sachin Tendulkar. Garrick was then included in the West Indies squad to play against the co-tourists that year, Sri Lanka. However he was not selected for the final XI.

Garrick then faded somewhat into the background as two of his compatriots, Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, made their marks against Zimbabwe in 2000. Now Garrick replaces Hinds to start the West Indies innings in this final Test of the series.

The other changes for the West Indies are as follows:

Fast bowler Cameron Cuffy, who was the best West Indian bowler in the 3rd Test in Barbados before being dropped for the 4th Test in Antigua & Barbuda, comes in for the luck-less Neil McGarrell, the left-arm orthodox spinner who was, arguably, the best West Indian bowler in the 4th Test.

Twenty-year-old middle order batsman Marlon Samuels comes back into the team at the expense of another twenty year-old, Ramnaresh Sarwan. Samuels had been dropped for the Fourth Test of the present series.

Sarwan - left out
Photo CricInfo

Somehow, one gets the direct impression that the West Indies selectors are panicking, trying to please everyone at the same time, playing "yo-yo cricket".

Whatever happened to the thought, and the spoken words of captain Carl Hooper:

"I do not think that we want to chop and change and present new openers for the Test in Jamaica. I, for one, am going to support Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle and hopefully, they will come good in Jamaica for us. We have persisted now with this team and squad for four Test matches, and I think that it is important for us to continue to show confidence in the guys even though we have lost the Test series."

Obviously, having said all of this, Hooper did not co-ordinate his thoughts with the other selectors. Strange, very strange indeed.

In the meantime, South Africa, already two Tests ahead, have also made two changes.

Super speedster Alan Donald comes back in after a thigh injury, but he will replace another fast bowler, Makhaya Ntini and not Justin Kemp, the fast bowling all-rounder, who replaced Donald in the Fourth Test.

Additionally, Nicky Boje, who played in all of the previous four Tests, had to return to South Africa for an overdue operation to his left shoulder, now that South Africa has won the series. While Boje's place for the one day series is being taken by Goolam Bodi, the KwaZulu Natal orthodox left arm spinner, it is Paul Adams, the left arm wrist spinner from Western Province, who is earmarked to play his first Test of the series at the batsman-friendly Sabina Park.