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The Lowdown - Denesh Ramdin

Shouldering the responsibility

The Lowdown on Denesh Ramdin

Kanishkaa Balachandran

July 6, 2006

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With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In this weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news, whether at the highest level or as an aspiring talent, and tell you what they are all about. This week, it's the turn of Denesh Ramdin , West Indies' promising wicketkeeper, who nearly guided his side to a series win at home



Denesh Ramdin is here to stay after his inspiring performance at Jamaica © Getty Images
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Ever since Jeff Dujon retired in 1991, West Indies have struggled to continue their rich legacy of wicketkeeper-batsmen. The gloves changed hands frequently, often between the same band of tried and discarded keepers. Ridley Jacobs played consistently for a long period, but even he had to continuously look over his shoulders. It can't yet be said with finality that the search has ended with the arrival of Denesh Ramdin, but he is certainly a man with promise, both behind the wicket and in front of it.

Ramdin, a small man with twinkling feet, got his big break on the tour of Sri Lanka in 2005. He was just 19 then, but it wasn┬╣t a gamble, because he had shown maturity beyond his years while leading West Indies in the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh a year earlier. His 72 in the semi-finals against England took West Indies to the final which they lost to Pakistan. Among his 13 dismissals in the tournament, were seven stumpings, a mark of his ability to read spinners.

He was among the few successes in the side enfeebled by a player-strike in Sri Lanka. His maiden Test innings yielded a sparkling fifty. Ramdin had no nerves facing Muttiah Muralitharan on a turning pitch, and he used his feet judiciously to score 56 with nine fours. Ramdin later attributed his skills to growing up in Trinidad, where spinners have generally thrived.

Ramdin learnt his cricket the hard way. A player from humble origins, he often had to make do with `hand-me-down' equipment from other cricketers. He began as a fast bowler, but clearly, it was wicketkeeping that interested him more. In his first Test tour, he displayed the most essential requirement for a good wicketkeeper - anticipation. His ability to pick the length and direction of the ball early had Tony Cozier gushing.

But more than his keeping, it's his batting that has caught the imagination. He almost pulled off a miraculous victory in the final Test in Jamaica. On a pitch where only two other batsmen reached fifty, Ramdin showed remarkable skills against the Indian spinners. His persistent sweeping drove Harbhajan Singh out of rhythm, and a languorous lofted six off Anil Kumble had India wincing for a while. It also showed that he was made of stern stuff. A few months earlier against New Zealand in Auckland, a slog-sweep had cost his deprived side an opportunity to gain a lead in the Test series. He eventually ran out of partners, but by then he had ensured that his team wouldn't go down without a fight. Perhaps it was this attitude that had prompted the West Indies board to name him as one of the candidates to replace Shivnarine Chanderpaul as captain a few months back. He is clearly a man with a future.

Timeline

July 2000 - Plays the Under-15 World Cup in England

October 2003 - List A debut - West Indies U-19s v Guyana

January 2004 - First-class debut - West Indies B v Kenya, St. Kitts

February 2004 - Captains West Indies in the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh

July 2005 - Test debut - v Sri Lanka at Colombo (SSC). Scores 56 in his maiden innings

July 2005 - ODI debut - v India at Dambulla

April 2006 - Considered for West Indies captaincy after Shivnarine Chanderpaul quits. He is one among six candidates. Eventually, Brian Lara is reinstated.

July 2006 - scores a fighting 62* in the series decider at Jamaica , almost pulling off an unlikely win

What he says
"I tend to bat better when I play positively rather than get tied down. I play my game without any fear and without names in my mind. I play with bat and ball, not names, I forget about names."

What they say
"With the bat, wicketkeeping gloves and general manner, he exudes confidence in the critical role of wicketkeeper, an attitude that Bennett King, the West Indies coach, has already identified and bestowed on the young man the responsibility of constantly urging on the regional side and keeping them on their toes" - Fazeer Mohammad, cricket journalist

What you may not know
Ramdin confesses that he tends to doze off at times, as a way of relaxing. A pretty harmless habit to have, but not if you are due at the crease any minute. In the first innings in Auckland earlier this year, Ramdin was about to make his way out when he realised he had completely forgotten to pad up, almost walking out with no equipment. Yet, he made it without being Timed Out.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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