In-form Barath must bide his time
Adrian Barath has every reason to feel hard done by at not being selected in the West Indies squad for the upcoming tour of England.
Still, the little right-handed opening batsman should steer clear of those seeking to console him with all sorts of destructive talk about bias and victimisation on the part of the senior regional selectors. It may be easier said than done, but the most productive way for the soon-to-be 19-year-old to channel that disappointment is to keep on scoring runs-at every level and trust that, sooner rather than later, his chance at the highest level will come.
It is, of course, small consolation for him to appreciate that he is not the first, and certainly won't be the last, to be overlooked despite an outstanding regional first-class season (810 runs at an average of 47.64).
Indeed, his Trinidad and Tobago team-mate, Darren Bravo, has also put up the kind of numbers (571 runs at 47.58) to suggest that he must have been worthy of some consideration, especially as the two Tests at Lord's and Chester-le-Street will be preceded by three first-class matches, representing an excellent opportunity, in the context of shorter and shorter build-ups these days, for newcomers to further their cricketing education in challenging conditions.
Such is the power of insularity in these former British possessions in the Caribbean that fans from almost every single territory can claim to have a grouse over any West Indies squad that is selected. That's just the nature of the beast in that very few will ever take the time for rational analysis, preferring instead to go the easy way of yielding to emotion which, at the end of the day, serves no useful purpose.
In any event, that will not make an iota of difference as far as the composition of the squad, but may actually heap more pressure and weight of expectation on young shoulders to justify all the noise made on his behalf the next time he walks to the crease.
And this is another thing. We're talking about very young players here who, barring injury or some other unforeseen development, have time on their side. Believe me, it may not be such a bad thing after all if Barath and Bravo are made even hungrier for the chance to step onto the senior international stage. All they need to do is appreciate the circumstances faced by their batting idol when he was kept waiting in the wings for what seemed an unreasonably long time.
Despite his obvious blossoming talent and increasing weight of runs, Brian Lara only got the chance to make his Test debut on the 1990 tour of Pakistan because of the absence of Vivian Richards. With the "Master Blaster" back at the helm for the home series against Australia and the subsequent tour of England, the brilliant left-hander was kept waiting a further 16 months before playing his second Test, the dramatic one-off duel with South Africa in front of deserted stands at Kensington Oval in 1992.
In between, he set a new standard for a record run-tally in a single season of the regional first-class competition (627), although established West Indies opening batsman Desmond Hayes surpassed that mark in the final match of the same campaign in 1991.
Indeed, the Australians who saw him at his sumptuous best in taking 91 off them in a one-day match against Trinidad and Tobago at Guaracara Park then were both bemused and grateful that such a talent was being kept on the sidelines.
Frustration did take its toll on the England tour that followed with the continuing inability to break into the Test XI contributing to a lack of motivation as he averaged less than 25 in nine first-class matches before an ankle injury forced him to return home early.
It is almost impossible for an eager young cricketer who is delivering the goods not to suffer a real let-down at some point, as Lara obviously did. The challenge therefore is to try as best as possible to stay focussed on what so far seems to be an elusive goal, trusting in your own ability to sway the decision-makers with what really matters in the end - performances on the field.
Contemporary West Indies cricket is littered with players who either burst onto the big stage in a blaze of glory only to fade out just as quickly, or just couldn't cut it at the top level despite continuing to dominate the regional scene.
Instead of eating themselves up about not being on the flight to London next week as members of the senior West Indies squad, Barath, Bravo and any other Caribbean cricketers who feel harshly treated by the selectors (for the record its Clyde Butts, Raphick Jumadeen, Robert Haynes, captain Chris Gayle and coach John Dyson) must keep on believing that performance will eventually prevail over old talk and emotion.