Walton cautious about Test return
Chadwick Walton has played two Tests for West Indies, but you probably don't know. When he did play those Tests, you either didn't care or were too disgusted with the way things were going in West Indies cricket. It was in 2009 when the first-choice West Indies players went on a strike, and a host of lesser players lost two Tests against Bangladesh. The crowds stayed away; at worst the team was seen as an establishment eleven, at best they were lambs to the slaughter. When the pay dispute was resolved, out went most of the replacement players, Walton being one of them, with 10 catches and 13 runs to his name.
Four years on, Walton is back, not as a there-is-no-alternative. "I didn't realise it was four years," Walton says. "It's always a good feeling. I have been doing a lot of work to come back to international level. I hope this time I can put up a better show."
Walton is a man of a few words. He doesn't want to talk too much about those troubled days. He sees it as a case of selectors' calling him up and his answering the call. He says it was all normal: the team atmosphere, and the relationship with players who had struck work. He admits to one thing, though - he probably wasn't ready back then. And it wasn't his age; he was 24. But it was the timing of the call.
"It came as a surprise," he says. "It was sudden. It was very shocking." Was he ready for the Test debut then? "I would tend to lean to the no side."
Now Walton has enough time to be ready to be part of a normal Test squad. What do you mean normal, he asks. "I can't compare with any other. I haven't been there since. I have nothing to compare it with."
That Test series was an eye opener, Walton says. Now he can joke about it, though. "The most challenging cricket I have played? Has to be playing with my niece. She get me out all the time because she makes the rules as she goes."
Apart from trying to become more consistent with the bat, Walton has spent the last four years trying to add a masters in sports science and marketing to his undergraduate degree in accounting. If he doesn't want to talk about if others were bitter towards him when he agreed to play for West Indies during the strike, he doesn't betray a sense of hurt at being left out either. "I always support what the selectors put out. If the selectors say we want to go with the same players, I support what they put out."
Walton, now the understudy to Denesh Ramdin on the tour of India, clearly supports what the selectors have put out, but is he ready? "You never know if you are ready," he says.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo