April 15, 2012

Barath's promise hobbled by injury and rashness

Injuries apart, Adrian Barath has failed to live up to expectations mostly because of poor judgement on the field

It was a long - longer than expected - day in the field last Tuesday for Adrian Barath. Australia's tail-end batsmen stayed out in the middle at the Kensington Oval much longer than he and his team-mates had expected. Michael Clarke's declaration after last pair Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon had pushed the total past 400 may not have been the most likely scenario in Barath's thinking.

Whatever his mental state as he and Kraigg Brathwaite went out to begin the West Indies second innings, clearly mind and body were not in sync. The little man's feet didn't move well enough as he drove at Ben Hilfenhaus and played the ball onto his stumps. The sound and sight of ball hitting stumps, bails falling to the ground and jubilant Australians running around must have been sickening for Barath. Dejected, his walk back to the Garry Sobers Pavilion, however, was just the beginning of his unease.

For the rest of the afternoon, as Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and, just before the end of the fourth day, Darren Bravo, joined him in discomfited silence in the dressing room, Barath might have reflected on the Pandora's box his early departure had opened for West Indies. That box would not be closed, not at least until Hilfenhaus and Harris, chief architects of Australia's fourth-day turnaround, had snatched victory on the fifth while the light was poised to fade away at the Kensington.

There was no disgrace in this defeat by three wickets for Darren Sammy's team. But for Barath, uncomfortable questions must have come up. His contributions in the game must be personally disappointing, galling even.

In the first innings, he cut himself short on 22, going after a Harris bumper with a hook shot he couldn't control. In between that effort and his brief second-innings stay, he also struggled to stay on the field because of thigh muscle trouble. In microcosm, Kensington 2012 summed up Barath's career to date - promise hobbled by injury and rashness.

As a 16-year-old, in just his second first-class match, for Trinidad & Tobago, Barath scored a hundred. In his first Test, against the Aussies, he did the same. He also notched up a one-day century in his sixth game. Now 22, since his West Indies debut in 2009, he has played only ten Tests and averages just over 26. Injury after injury robbed him of important time at the crease. He hasn't been able to build a rhythm, and often, when he has been playing cricket, it has been more of the Twenty20 variety.

In his most recent comeback, granted by the West Indies selectors after he scored a patient century for T&T in his first knock following a finger injury, Barath made steady contributions in the final ODIs against Australia. But Clyde Butts and his panel chose not to expose him in the T20s.

As a batsman, Barath is good enough for all cricket, a talent with the kind of dynamic strokeplay to bring crowds to their feet. But with just 26 matches in all forms of the international game, he is still feeling his way.

Poor starts and defeats are not unconnected. West Indies did not find their footing once Barath and Brathwaite departed early

Disappointed that his first century in regional cricket had come only in his second game, Barath is not a man short on ambition. However, more recently that ambition and his appetite for big scores have been undermined by poor judgement. Too often his innings, including the two in the first Test, have ended due to his own indiscretions.

Those failings will be a concern for Sammy. Substantial opening partnerships for West Indies have been almost as scarce as wins. Poor starts and defeats are not unconnected. West Indies did not find their footing once Barath and Brathwaite departed early. In the first innings, Brathwaite's four-and-a-half hour sojourn and his 76-minute stand with his opening partner set their side up, giving their captain the confidence to declare. But Test cricket can level you fairly quickly, and West Indies were knocked flat in three and a half days. Not for the first time, and probably not the last.

Collective second-innings meltdowns and difficulties in finishing off tail-end opposition again proved to be West Indies' fatal drawbacks in Barbados. They blotted what was otherwise an encouraging showing by the team Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson are shaping.

As a group, the players seem to believe in what they are doing and have been boosted by the way they have handled the Australians so far on this tour. The first Test loss will be a blow, but not a devastating one. To still be in the series after the second Test, however, will require more players - men like Barath at the top and Narsingh Deonarine in the middle order - to keep their heads and produce.

Trinidad's Queen's Park Oval, with its slow pitches, and bounce less true than at the Kensington, especially over the last day or two, will present a different challenge to both sides, especially the one batting last.

Once fit to play, it will be Barath's first Test at home. The perfect time and place to get moving again.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ahmad on April 16, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    Barath is NOT a Bad player, his Fitness is his Biggest Issue. he keep getting Injured, even right now Barath isnt 100% Fit. Yes people may criticize Barthwaite for his Approach to the Game, but that NO excuse. A Bartah with Gayle. His Scores. 15,104, 3, 17 Got injured. come back 50, 3, 8, Injured. without gayle 64, 38, 3, 27, 22, 2, 7. Barath Fitness for me is his biggest flaws in this Career.

  • Cauldric on April 16, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    I just cant see y some ppl think that Gayle is some kind of magic pill for WI victory. Remember Gayle has been there for over 10 years. the weakness of WI is not its talent (Our players dominate every t20 league that they play in). It's the ability to work with a team plan and to assess and respond appropriately to current situations during a game. For those who criticized braithwaithe's slow run rate in first test, just look at AUS batsmen play according to the situation in this game. Clarke was the only wicket from a poor shot, but i dont blame him- that looked like a free 6 runs. Every game Rash shots account for at least 3 of WI batsmen. That could be costly considering that AUS bowling is nowhere next to ENG or SA or PAK

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    All I hope, as I have told several fans down here is that the endless talent of the Windies team will eventually be honed using persons who specialise in mental coaching. It is something that the WICB has not identified as a need, and the persistent reason we have sessions in every format that bring the results we have become accustomed to. The large number of Windies players in the IPL (Bravo, Pollard, Cooper, Narine, Russell, Gayle, Samuels, and Darren Bravo at the end of this series) says nothing about our ability to win games, only our talent...

  • Shakti on April 15, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    Adrian Barath needs to spend some time playing county cricket.He has a flat pitch in Trinidad,its a great venue now its just about him getting a big century.

  • vviky on April 15, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Pleae Dont become another ashraful.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    BARATH cannot bat. Batting is about scoring runs. Socring Runs IS ABOUT OCCUPATION OF THE CREASE. OCCUAPATION OF THE CREASE IS ABOUT BEING FIT MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY. MENTALLY FIT MEANS BEING ABLE TO THINK THE GAME. Physically Fit is about stamina and endurance---This is what Batting is all about. BARATH CANNOT BAT --Simple !!

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    Let me put this point blank,Barath is a special talent with a decent technique but with problems with the short ball.However,like L Simmons at test level,both give you good 20-40 runs,looks flashy and great,but find some way to get themselves out,at least L Simmons has been brilliant at one day international and t-20 international level.Mr Barath,do not become a modern day Phil Simmons,Carl Hooper,Keith Arthurton,Stuart Williams,etc,your aggregate and average does not do your obvious talent any good,get runs and plenty of them,you DO NOT own a spot in the West Indies team,let your bat do some serious talking,and please sir,very,very soon.

  • Basil on April 15, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    Id like to see him bat at 6 for a while... Could it be that he's just not an opener?

  • Earl on April 15, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    Barath and Gayle looked like a good opening pair.Young batsmen sometimes need time to establish themselves.Batting with Gayle would decrease the need to take chances.Campbell was a very good young batsman,but pressure was also put on him not having Haynes with him.Our selectors are the absolute worst in the world. Brathwaite just adds more pressure on Barath as he does not score as often as he should.Barath will be okay when Gayle gets back.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    Bharath is confused about which format of the game he is playing in on a given day; thus, he sometimes bats in the test as if it were a T20 and then does the reverse. He obviously would like to be a Gayle or a Sehwag when he should just try to be Adrian Bharath. Somebody needs to tell him that he needs to find that balance between T20 and Test cricket and he might just go on to realize his genius to its full extent when he does.

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