West Indies in Bangladesh 2011-12 October 16, 2011

Simmons and Samuels help West Indies rebuild

Two players who have been in and out of the side have shown patience and maturity to help WI cope with the loss of several seniors

Just as too much can be made of West Indies' successive ODI wins, Thursday and yesterday in Dhaka, it is impossible to downgrade them, as they inevitably and widely will be, as "only" over Bangladesh.

For all their appalling overall record, the Bangladeshis are not utter pushovers at home. Their inconsistency and aversion to fast rib-cage bowling has been their major downfall (such as their 58 all out against West Indies and 78 all out against South Africa in the World Cup). But they beat New Zealand in all four of their ODIs a year ago and have often pushed others hard.

More to the point, these were comprehensive victories by a West Indies team, according to coach Ottis Gibson, "building for the future" around the young brigade. And they represented real spirit in disregarding the disappointment of the last-over defeat in the one-off T20I a few days earlier.

As they were in the Caribbean early in the year, when West Indies came back from losses in their first three ODIs against Pakistan and India to take the last two, the most senior players - Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan - are all missing in Bangladesh. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is present but only for the two Tests.

In their stead, Lendl Simmons, 26, and a West Indies player since 2006, and Marlon Samuels, 30, with 119 ODIs to his name, are the seniors who have set the example and skillfully executed the game plans, never a West Indian strength.

Simmons' two innings have yielded 122 and 80, Samuels 88 and 71. Their second-wicket partnerships, setting up the results, have been 111 and 150. In the past, their inability to assess the state of the game and their inconsistency had repeatedly cost each his place.

It explains why Simmons has had only 31 ODIs in almost five years for West Indies and, Samuels, along with a two-year suspension over his contacts with an Indian bookmaker, 119 in the 11 years since his debut match.

Both built their scores with patience and maturity previously lacking throughout their chequered careers. They appear to appreciate that this is their last chance, and finally understand their roles. They have taken their time to weigh up the bowling. Once settled they have accelerated. It is a refreshing change.

Both built their scores with patience and maturity previously lacking throughout their chequered careers. They appear to appreciate that this is their last chance, and finally understand their roles

Simmons has had a roller-coaster ride along the way. His most recent exit from the team followed his struggles in an ODI series in Australia in early 2010, and lasted a year. Reinstated for the home encounters against Pakistan and India, he dominated the batting in the ODIs only to be dropped again after failures in the Tests.

He has been chosen only for the ODIs in Bangladesh, a premature decision as the three openers picked for the Tests are young and with virtually no experience. Adrian Barath is 21 and, with seven Tests and a hundred on debut, has with him Kraigg Brathwaite (18) and Kieran Powell (21), each with a solitary Test.

With Simmons' form, he will surely be in both squads for the far tougher tour of India that immediately follows.

From the time Samuels was surprisingly summoned to the series in Australia in December 2000, aged 19, he has been as pleasing a strokeplayer as West Indies have had since Brian Lara.

Had he put such natural talent to best use, he would be averaging more than his 29 in Tests and 31.39 in ODIs. The problem was, always too eager to indulge himself, he found silly ways of getting out. In the 2007-08 Tests in South Africa, he was just finding the reliability that is selectors' priority (average 52.33) when his ICC sanction put him on hold for two years.

Once it was served, he scored heavily at both domestic and international level. He is now a crucial piece in Gibson's team-building jigsaw, his recently cleared illegal action providing captain Darren Sammy with an additional offspin option.

Not everything has gone according to plan in Bangladesh, but enough to make it satisfying. If there is a problem it is that Simmons and Samuels have left very little for anyone else.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 19, 2011, 2:19 GMT

    India is the no.2 in the world so dont comment before knowing your facts and they are world champs

  • giovaughn on October 18, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    ppl keep on saying that Gayle deserted West Indies to play IPL. Dont they remember that it was the selectors that did not pick him for the team to play vs Pakistan?

  • alexander on October 17, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    west indies does not need chris gayle if a player prefers to play for a money making soap opera {ipl} rather than the country in which he grew up that has such a great LEGACY I say drop him you have tremendous talent in simmmons samuels barath kirk edwards and TIGER to guide them why play someone who demands more money for inconsistent performances

  • Clester on October 17, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    We need to be real and honest with ourselves. Yes we have some experienced players with a lot of talent. But over the past 10ys where have that gotten us? From being the most feared team in the world to being the whipping boys both in tests and ODIs. It this is not a new development this is years of deterioration all the while these "senior players" were the backbone of the team. With the exception of Chanderpaul all we got were lack loster performances. They were more distracted with paychecks and other benefits than representing WI. On too many occasion selectors were forced to choose from a pool of second string players because these "great" players were unavailable. They held our cricket at ransom for too long.

    Kudos to Gibson for making a stand and choosing dedicated players who would put WI first. I see real fight and team work now. This breeds confidence and self belief which ultimately will result in Victories.

    Go Windies

  • Mudasir on October 17, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    Chris Gayle Patrick Browne Lendl simmons Daren Bravo Shiv Chanderpaul Ramnarash sarwan Marlon Samuels Keiren Pollard Dywane Bravo Davendra Bishoo Jermone Taylor Kemar Roach Andree Russel Fidel Edwards Ravi Rampaul Adrain Barath

    Pick team from these players

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    The reason many want Chris Gayle in the side, even though WI have lost even when he was in the team, is that HE HAS BECOME A BETTER BATSMAN in the last 1.5 years. Since his debut, he has never been as consistent as he has been in the IPL and CLT20 where he has succeeded in at least 80% of the matches and won so many games by himself. It just pains WI supporters that his great form is being wasted because of these childish fights. And just as important an exclusion is Jerome Taylor, who has started maturing in the last 2 years and he is BEING WASTED again due to political reasons. Fast bowlers are not going to have very prolonged careers and when WI do start considering him, it is quite possible that he has lost his form/pace.

    WI will be better off picking any 15 from among these players: Gayle, Barath, Simmons, Sarwan, Samuels, Darren Bravo, Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards, Nash, Deonarine, Pollard, Russell, Baugh, Ramdin, Taylor, Narine, Bishoo, Benn, Fidel Edwards, Rampaul, Roach.

  • V.L on October 17, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    As much as they should enjoy the series win, WI should not get carried away by beating minnows. The should retain their calm and composure during some of the tougher tours in near future such as the Indian tour.

  • Tom on October 16, 2011, 22:31 GMT

    World cricket needs a strong WI team. I really hope they can build on these recent successes and get back to fighting for the top end of the world rankings rather than the bottom.

  • Dummy4 on October 16, 2011, 20:50 GMT

    Why so hard on Sammy & Gibson? WI r winning. We have a group of talented players & a group of talented players can beat any team at any given time. No team will dominate wrld cricket India didn't do it & England wouldn't. The so call big teams will beat WI & WI will beat them trust me. WI problem has been the mental side of their game, hence the inconsistency. Yes we need a solid opener, but if Gayle is not there, we will have to go it without him for now. Our boys r as good as any on the wrld stage today. R u saying that Samuels can't make those runs agst Eng? Or Ravi can't take wickets agst SA. Ramdhin is among the best keepers in wrld cricket. I have seen worse capts than Sammy. Let's support the boys.

  • Dummy4 on October 16, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    Marlon Samuels could be in top 3 ODI and test bastman within 5 years. He is such a classy player with unbelieveable talent. Now that he is mentally amoured, this should be a plus in confidence and concentration trowards hsi game. I must say that I am pretty disappointed when West Indians would make rediculous comments about the country the players are from. And its funny but is always persons from the same countries who would make such "racist" comments. Come on people. A true west indian would prefer legacy over pride. One carribbean one community.

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