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Veteran writer and commentator on Caribbean cricket

England and West Indies focus on youth

Both have lost their previous series and key players ahead of their limited-overs clash in the Caribbean. It's time to blood emerging talent

Tony Cozier

February 10, 2014

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Jonathan Carter celebrates his century, Barbados v Trinidad & Tobago, Nagico Super50, Port-of-Spain, February 2, 2014
Barbados left-hand batsman Jonathan Carter is in form after scoring a century against T&T in the Nagico Super50 © WICB Media

Things haven't gone to plan for either West Indies or England as they prepare to contest the strange combination of three ODIs in Antigua and three T20s in Barbados from February 28 to March 15.

One way or another, their soul-destroying tour of Australia has taken a heavy toll on England. Missing from their squad for the West Indies tour are five of the stalwarts who carried them, if briefly, to the top of the ICC's Test charts and near the top in ODIs just over a year ago. Their places have been taken by younger rising stars.

West Indies also have five prominent players on their absentee list; others with once-settled places have been worryingly out of sorts in the regional Nagico Super50, presently into its final week in Trinidad. Another was withdrawn from the tournament by his association for declining to sign for his team outfit, as all their players are required to do.

West Indies warm up for England's challenge with a couple of T20s and one ODI against Ireland in Kingston on February 19, 21 and 23. The Irish were so disappointing in the Trinidad tournament over the past ten days that it presents an ideal opportunity for West Indies to introduce the most promising newcomers.

It's all the more reason to expect the England matches to feature those of the coming generation. That alone heightens expectations.

For West Indies, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard and Kemar Roach are still carrying injuries of varying degrees. Pollard (knee strain) and Roach (damaged right shoulder) haven't appeared in West Indies colours since the home series against Pakistan last July. Gayle has played no cricket since November 21, when he tore a hamstring in the first ODI in Kochi on the back-to-back tours of India and New Zealand that were every bit as ill-starred as England's in Australia.

Sammy, also with a hamstring problem, and Samuels, recovering from an operation to correct a chronic wrist injury, haven't had a match since Boxing Day.

Normally, selectors would not hurry them back against international opposition. The West Indies panel's conservatism in favouring the tried and trusted over the young and untested is clear from those players contracted for 2014.

At the top level, worth US$120,000 each, are Gayle, 34, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 39, both with strong records but clearly in the twilight of their careers.

Also there are Samuels, 33, who followed his outstanding 2012 with an inconsistent 2013, Sammy, the Test and T20 captain, whose position, by his own admission, is "on the line", and Dwayne Bravo, 30, the last of whose 40 Tests was more than three years ago. The only under-30 in that group, at 25, is Sunil Narine, the mystery spinner.

Among those two levels below (at US$60,000) are Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin, along with Johnson Charles, Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul and Shane Shillingford.

"Lil Bravo", as he's called in his native Trinidad, is 25 and the team's finest young batsman, averaging 44.68 in 27 Tests, and the highest of his five hundreds, 218 against New Zealand, was just three matches ago.

Ramdin has finally cemented himself as wicketkeeper-batsman after a period of inconsistency that cost him his place. In 14 Tests over the past two years, he averages 44.29 with three hundreds, a favourable comparison with Australia's Brad Haddin (42.26 in 12 Tests) and even MS Dhoni (41.52).

Surely contracts should be either reward for performance or incentives for emerging players. It is patently not so with West Indies.

Of those on show in the Super50, Charles and the left-handed Powell, the opening pair in the New Zealand ODIs, have been worryingly short of runs, as they were on tour. Darren Bravo seems still distracted by the "personal" problems that caused his premature exit after a solitary ODI in New Zealand. Ravi Rampaul's bowling has lacked its usual zip and control. Shillingford can't even bowl as he's under an ICC suspension for an illegal action.

To add to the predicament, Kirk Edwards was dismissed from Barbados' Super50 team for reasons being challenged on his behalf by the West Indies Players Association (WIPA). According to the board president, Dave Cameron, he is still eligible for selection to the regional teams but is now under a dark, unwanted cloud.

For England, Alastair Cook has remained at home to consider his previously unquestioned position as captain. Jonathan Trott, the established No. 3, left Australia after the first Test through "a stress related condition"; his future as an England player is in doubt.

Offspinner Graeme Swann declared his retirement after the third Ashes Test and departed for no other reason than that he wasn't satisfied with his performances. Matt Prior, the long-serving batsman-wicketkeeper, was dropped at the same time, after his form deteriorated sharply; at 31, he is unlikely to be back.

The biggest setback of all was last week's controversial rejection of Kevin Pietersen, unquestionably England's best and most dynamic batsman but deemed by management to be a disruptive influence.

The upshot is that Stuart Broad takes over as captain and that three of those under him are new to international cricket and four others 25 and under. The beginners are Moeen Ali, a batting allrounder who has been outstanding for Worcestershire in the County Championship, and two left-armers, Harry Gurney of Nottinghamshire (fast-medium swing) and Lancashire's Stephen Parry (conventional spin).

Ben Stokes, an aggressive allrounder, England's only century-maker in the Ashes Tests and a bowler capable of high-80s mph pace, was one distinct positive from Australia.

Jos Buttler, a similarly belligerent batsman, has the makings of Prior's successor. Joe Root, the diminutive right-hander capable of playing in any position in the order, from No. 1 down, didn't flourish in Australia but his potential had already been confirmed.

Stokes is 22, Buttler and Root 23. They and others of similar age who didn't make it - batsman Gary Ballance, batsman-keeper Jonny Bairstow - are the future of English cricket.

If West Indies lack such depth at present, the two upcoming series, brief as they are, offer a chance to introduce those previously confined to the A team and others who staked their claims in the Super50.

Batsmen such as the left-handers Jonathan Carter and Leon Johnson, both 26, with A team credentials, and Carter with the further boost of a Super 50 hundred against Trinidad and Tobago; the slim, distinctly rapid 21-year-old Ronsford Beaton; and the big Vincentian left-armer Delorn Johnson, another A team graduate.

If such players are not given their chance and the customary recycling continues, West Indies will remain just where they are, near the bottom of the pile.

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

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Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (February 15, 2014, 11:44 GMT)

To make a marked difference in West Indies cricket, listen to the words of Clive Lloyd. The great man, who, let us never forget, forged THE strongest team EVER, often speaks well regarding the state and future of our game. His recent interview with Ian Bishop was full of the right attitude and approach. Lloyd spoke of the problems: 1) attitude, 2) fitness, 3) exposure, 4) pitches and 5)utilising the past greats from the region. The components are there - but the men who sit around the desks need to wake up and make the correct calls. Ask the greats such as Haynes, Greenidge, Richards, Dujon, Holding, Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop to formally také part in the development of the younger players, find another Dennis Waight to improve the shocking condition of these guys, insist on the top players returning to the region to play all formats of regional cricket, send the top groundsman to all corners of the Caribbean to improve the pitches and then, in time, the West Indies will rise again.

Posted by tyslick on (February 13, 2014, 13:29 GMT)

I think some of you are very unfair in selections,marlon samuels was out of the team for ages and they took him back and he played well.sarwan is trying to make a comeback and is doing a good job with the bat at present,but, no one is saying give him a chance. i agree with darren ganga .Sarwan is still the best captain for West Indies.

Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (February 12, 2014, 17:05 GMT)

Good comment Randy Wilson. How fine it would be to see great men like Holding and Richards involved too.

If anybody disagrees with your statement regarding "we have the talent", they patently fail to see the promise and skilll of K Powell, DB Bravo, R Beaton, M Cummins, D Johnson, J Holder, K Roach etc

Posted by   on (February 12, 2014, 1:47 GMT)

WI biggest problem is the Selection Panel, sammy himself knows his Test position is at stake. Selector wake up. Sammy is no Test player. pick him in a role which suit him. T20/ODI. WI can pick a Test Team, ODI Team and a T20, with 3-4 players playing all format. Which can stop Players from getting break down with a Long season of Cricket. We got de player, but Poor Management and Selector is ta blame got to pick de best and not de worst 11.

Posted by   on (February 12, 2014, 0:17 GMT)

LOL. Comparing Ramdin to Dhoni... what a joke.

This series represents the best chance that the West Indies has against a team that is mentally broken at the moment. But still, they will find a way to lose. That's the story of the West Indies. I remember growing up in the Caribbean when losing was abnormal. Now, it's the opposite. We're delighted whenever the team can squeeze out a win. Even against a Zimbabwe or Bangladesh... The side is suffering from the effects of mismanagement and improper development. How sad, these times. Long live the West Indies.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (February 11, 2014, 21:31 GMT)

T20 side for England /World Cup

1.Gayle 2.Smith 3.Samuels/Simmons 4.Carter/LIL B 5.Big Bravo 6.Pollard 7.Barnwell/Russell 8.Sammy 9.Narine 10.Badree 11.Santokie

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (February 11, 2014, 21:17 GMT)

Kirk Edwards just scored an impeccable 123* in the second Odi game he was selected in of the 5 to help square the series against the same strong Kiwi side that just whitewashed India !It will be ridiculous if he's not included. With Gayle out it's vital Dwayne Smith is given another shot so there is some fire-power at the top.

Team for Ireland 1.Smith 2.Powell/Chanderpaul 3.Edwards 4.LIL B 5.Bravo 6.Carter 7.Ramdin 8.Holder 9.Narine 10/11 Rampaul/Beaton/Johnson or another spinner depending on track.

Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (February 11, 2014, 11:31 GMT)

VivGilchrist, as I stated earlier, good that I am not the only one to have remarked upon Rampaul's extra baggage. Merv Hughes-esque the body may be, but Hughes was also a very good bowler. Rampaul is quite good, at best. Never had that extra yard of pace but always took that extra plate of curry.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (February 11, 2014, 9:57 GMT)

I think WI need a healthy mix of youth and experience. If you chuck guys in because they are young, you risk destroying them. 1 DRSmith 2 Charles 3 Simmons 4 Bravo 5 Carter 6 Bravo 7 Russell 8 Ramdin 9 Taylor 10 Rampaul 11 Narine. I wish Rampaul could cut down on the Roti and Jerk Chicken, get himself fit and reach his true potential. He's starting to remind me of Merv Hughes.

Posted by joryan on (February 11, 2014, 0:58 GMT)

It is amazing that persons with one good score in 3 games are being touted as international players. Lets be serious.

Posted by WILAD on (February 11, 2014, 0:06 GMT)

Lol. We have gone through this a million times. We have been rebuilding for how many years? Trying how many young players? Sometimes destroying them because we throw them in so early. How many wickets Has Johnson and Beaton has taken to be called up? And it's not even the bowling that is usually bad. We have taken wickets against top teams many times. It's the batsmen. Their technique and mentality is not good.

Posted by Roysingh1972 on (February 10, 2014, 22:00 GMT)

Well spoken Tony, those young players need to be introduce to international level, Beaton is like the new Ambrose and JCarter should of been there all ready, but know for a fact that WI selectors will turn a blind eye to most of these guys

Posted by CodandChips on (February 10, 2014, 18:45 GMT)

James Taylor. He is the best young English batsman not yet established in international cricket. Also I doubt Prior would have come on this tour anyway- his ODI record for England is terrible (although so is Luke Wrights...)

Posted by AvmanM on (February 10, 2014, 17:51 GMT)

West Indies have been "rebuilding" for 20 years now. What a joke!

Posted by Frayninho21 on (February 10, 2014, 17:50 GMT)

A squad of 15 for the ODI's vs Ireland / England

Kirk Edwards, Kieron Powell, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo (capt), Jonathan Carter, Nkrumah Bonner, Denesh Ramdin (vice-captain), Sunil Narine, Davendra Bishoo, Nikita Miller, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder, Delorn Johnson, Ronsford Beaton.

For the T20's:

Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle (if fit Evin Lewis if not)), Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Nkrumah Bonner, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Nikita Miller, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder, Delorn Johnson, Ronsford Beaton

Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (February 10, 2014, 16:24 GMT)

Long have I admired the commentary + insight that Mr.Cozier offers. He says what most sensible students of West Indian cricket are thinking. The names of the younger players he mentions, Beaton the "distinctly rapid" 21 year old + the big Vincentian left-armer Delorn Johnson simply MUST be included against the Irish + English - these two, along with Holder + Cummins, the young pair of Barbadian pacers, can go a long way to bringing back the fire that the West Indian team has missed for so long. Rampaul is a good bowler, Sammy as steady as they come, but even a cursory glance shows how the former has let his body go - he is in no condition to lead an international attack at the moment, whilst Sammy, for all his patent strengths, lacks the individual ability, especially with regards to incisive bowling. As noted, "lil" Bravo is a fine young batsman, Ramdin has really stepped up over the past year or so - nice to see it noted by the writer above. Let's hope Carter or Johnson also step up

Posted by jennings007 on (February 10, 2014, 16:21 GMT)

I would like to see new players introduced like Ronsford Beaton,Jonathan Carter,Keddy Lesporis,Nkrumer Bonner,Leon Johnson in the team.No wicket keepers made any claims in the tournament so I will stick with Ramdin.My50 over team will be Dwayne Smith,Leon Johnson,Bonner,Lil Bravo,Carter,Lesporis,Dwayne Bravo(capt),Ramdin,Holder,Narine,Beaton.Cotrell has pace but needs to use his brain and learn to swing the ball both ways.I live in the US and West Indies have a tremendous following up here.I don't care which island a player is from.The selectors should pick a West Indies team and not favor the island they are from.The test team needs 3 fast bowlers and one spinner.My pick would be Holder,Cummins,Beaton, Narine with Ramdin as keeper.Batsmen will be Chanderpaul,Lil Bravo.I will wait for the 4 day tournament to name the rest.

Posted by JoshFromJamRock on (February 10, 2014, 15:26 GMT)

Age shouldn't matter but performance should. West Indies needs three very different teams, one for each format, to succeed in world cricket. The bowling options will vary slightly but the batting lineups should be very format-specific. Beaton, Johnson, Cotterell and Cummings is the seam quartet WI should focus on in the "A" team. They have the ability to succeed in any format once matured enough. Roach, Rampaul, Holder and Taylor form the seam quartet that should be played in all formats. They have the experience, performances and reasonable youth to guide WI back to mid-table rankings. For spinners, Narine and Miller should be persisted with alternatively based on pitch and opposition.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2014, 15:17 GMT)

"Matt Prior, the long-serving batsman-wicketkeeper, was dropped at the same time, after his form deteriorated sharply; at 31, he is unlikely to be back" he hasn't played a ODI or IT20 in some time but I think he will be back in the test side if he shows early season form for Sussex. England will have enough inexperience in their test side and there is not ready made replacement Bairstow is yet to convince at Test level and Butler averages under 30 with a batmens friendly home ground

Posted by sheru-sher on (February 10, 2014, 15:13 GMT)

West Indies selectors need to make bold and daring changes . As Tony Cozier said recycling is not a good option .Recycling in my opinion is for paper, bottles and tin cans. To begin with there are a few players that should be "fired" from the team just like what England did to Piertersen. They should be fired for non-consistency.It appears that these players go through the motion with little effort and when their "drop" becoame apparent they put some effort in score a few runs or get a couple wickets and business carries on. Players like Gayle , Samuels, Kirk Edwards, Deonarine, Permaul, Kieran Powell, and Simmonds should be banished from wI cricket. It is better to lose with young warriors than lose with stale lazy self-seeking mercenaries.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2014, 14:49 GMT)

Its good that Tony Cozier identified these talent but for me they should get more list A game under there belt. At this moment the crop its more mental than technical attributes. Powell definitely needs to go back and work out his foot movements and look to work the ball than flamboyant shots at the top. my test 11 gayle edwards bravo samuels chanderpaul bravo ramdin narine holder taylor cottrell. ODI 11 gayle smith simmons bravo lambert pollard bravo narine ramdin holder cottrell/taylor T20 11 gayle smith simmons samuels pollard bravo sammy narine ramdin holder/cottrell rampual/taylor. for the test 11 samuels and bravo should rotate to have a left right combination sammy can come in the ODI set up if flat batting pich but dont see the need for 3 all rounder and the choice betwee bowlers is base on pitch condition on that day. The evidence is there that these four bowlers are the best and should be develop good pace and control taylor looks great on his comeback cottrell is aspiring

Posted by   on (February 10, 2014, 14:43 GMT)

Reading this article makes me want to cry the pain out of my body. Tony Cozier is a respected cricket expert who loves the game. Yet he has to write about a limited over series that no-one cares about. The fact that this piece has only 5 comments says it all. The interest is not there. For every ODI series that does not include a Test series the media and coaches will try to make it important "we are preparing for the World Cup", "we want to look at the new players". It is a feeble attempt, just going through the motions. A tour should be 1 20-20, 3 ODIs before a 3/4/5 Test series. Limited over tours on their own do not work. Instead of going to the West Indies to play this trash, the England players should be having some time off.

Posted by cricketdebator on (February 10, 2014, 13:34 GMT)

I have always contended that in the current circumstance, the best option for West Indies cricket moving forward, is to start from scratch. In that regard, the selectors need to be bold, and select a specific team for a specific format. Get rid of all those under performing big-named older players, and invest in the best players in the region not older than age 25. In exceptional cases, the selectors may wish to consider players up to age 30. With that approach, it is my belief that we will see improvement in WI cricket over the next few years. It is unlikely to be any worse.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2014, 10:12 GMT)

WI investing in youth ? Can Cozier explain what is his cut-off age for youth when we see people like Nikita Miller (age 30 ) for example being "invested" in. Also there is the possibility that Ramnaresh Sarwan (age 32+) with a recent series of "good" scores in the ODI tournament , may find himself back in the ODI squad (knowing the "mind-set of WI selectors). But we have to remember that Tony Cozier was the man who used to describe Daren Powell (at age 29) as an developing fast bowler......

Posted by BatBowlCatch on (February 10, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

There is generally a rebuilding phase throughout world cricket in general. A cricketing evolution you could say. Players such as Ponting, Kallis, and Tendulkar among others have recently retired. There are a lot of other big names in the top eight nations in their mid to late 30's who won't be around for much longer. Australia began their 'rebuilding phase' a couple of years ago and India have an almost new XI from a couple of seasons previous. Now it's the West Indies and England's turn. New Zealand has found an established squad for the first time since Noah. With the current political changes in the game and the total onslaught of smash 'n' bash (T/20) we are seeing the game change quickly. The new crew coming through have a different mindset and structure to their approach.

Posted by sreni on (February 10, 2014, 6:46 GMT)

"Joe Root, the diminutive right-hander capable of playing in any position in the order, from No. 1 down, didn't flourish in Australia but his potential had already been confirmed" - well how it is confirmed ? by some runs against an awful Indian attack? or by scoring only one hundred at Lords against Aus after being dropped at around 10 ? Mind he has played more than 20 Inn in all the formats in Aus and failed..

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (February 10, 2014, 6:07 GMT)

i just do not understand England's infatuation with joe root in the shorter formats. Dont tell me he has made up for his small build by using his timing and placement. The only point to be considered is irrespective of how he has nullified his limitations, is he amongst the best LOI batsmen in Eng? I dont think he is better than Samit Patel, first of all . I cant believe that England included this new bloke Parry ahead of the utility player patel

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