Australia in the West Indies 2012

Narine's absence raises questions over future

West Indies are trying to build a robust team culture and Narine will miss out on that each time he sits out of a series for the national side

Daniel Brettig

April 7, 2012

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

Sunil Narine celebrates David Warner's dismissal, West Indies v Australia, 5th ODI, Gros Islet, March 25, 2012
The Australia team won't mind Sunil Narine's absence © Associated Press
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As West Indies and Australia commence battle in the first Test in Bridgetown, Sunil Narine will be some 14,405km away, readying himself to play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. Narine sat out Knight Riders' first engagement of the tournament as he had not been long in arriving from the Caribbean, but his absence from a Test series in which he might have made a considerable impact has fuelled plenty of questions about his future.

The West Indies camp has largely downplayed Narine's absence, citing his lack of any previous Test-match experience. There is also the matter of whether or not the surfaces for the three matches to come would have favoured him quite so much as the three spiteful turners of St Vincent at the start of the ODI series. However, the touring Australians are delighted that they will not have to contend with an array of variations that had a mesmerising effect on even a player as well-versed against slow bowling as Michael Hussey.

"Personally I was pretty happy that he's gone over to the IPL," Hussey said on Good Friday. "I, and all the guys, found him a huge challenge in the one-day series, particularly in St Vincent where the conditions were obviously very spin-friendly. It did take me a good two or three games to get used to his action, his deliveries and what he was trying to do with the ball. I think it's a bit of a win for our team that he's not here."

Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, spoke frankly and at some length during his team's preparatory stint at Kensington Oval on a range of topics, but was quite clipped by comparison when it came to Narine. The matter of IPL absentees is a source of some contention, questions about uncontracted players pushed to one side by the hosts' otherwise cordial media minders.

"He hasn't played Test cricket yet so it's difficult to say how he will hurt us," Gibson said. "He had a fantastic one-day series and he came to the fore in that format of the game. We haven't seen him in a lot of first-class or Test cricket yet so it's difficult to say he'll come and have the same impact. Obviously he's gone off to the IPL and we have to see past that right now."

Other missing men, including Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels, have been replaced by younger talent, and in the case of Samuels it is possible that the determined contributions of Narsingh Deonarine will prove capable of overshadowing the man he is substituted for. Mitigating Bravo's departure is the fact that the captain Darren Sammy has a mortgage on the nominal allrounder's spot, though the option of another would lengthen the local batting and bowling line-up.

Narine's place - were he to be given one - will be taken by Devendra Bishoo, an eminently crafty young legspinner with a serviceable record against Indian batsmen in 2011. Ironically for a wrist spinner, Bishoo's deliveries will be shrouded in less mystery than Narine's, but his accuracy and tenacious attitude will serve him well.

How Bishoo might have fared in tandem with Narine is another question that must be placed on hold, for Test matches that do not clash with the IPL. They will not take place in this series, nor during West Indies' next assignment in England, and the duo will most likely be united when Sammy takes his team to Sri Lanka for three Tests in November.

By then the West Indies side will know a lot more about its capabilities, having fought against two of the world's top four teams. However each time Narine is absent from a West Indies engagement he loses a chance to be part of what Gibson and Sammy are trying to turn into a robust and fighting team culture. It is the kind that exists best in teams like Australia, whose IPL players are, to a man, staying in the West Indies until the Tests run to their conclusion.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by simonviller on (April 7, 2012, 21:01 GMT)

Some folks' dislike for Gibson is detroying their ability to be objective ,thus nothing that he does wil please them . These are the same individuals ,who think it's ok for Gayle and others to make money in the ipl,despite their wealth , but would accuse Gibson for not giving him[ Narine] that right to earn the big dollars , just by selecting him for the test .Did it ever occur to you all that this may be an issue why we are hearing this lot of long- talk ?

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 20:41 GMT)

Metman: Why call the VC 11 a 'developmental team' and sanction it and then overlook its players? If Gibson is the coach and director of cricket, shouldn't he be aware of these players and not pretend that someone like Narine from this team was never ever in the picture and he knew nothing about him (them)? Narine also played youth cricket along the way in sanctioned WIBC tournaments. Further, you pick one game wonders and other players who will not give you chats and picong and call you out on your Machiavellian politics that should not become part of sports. In 1999, Chanderpaul was the only paltry in SA to score a hundred in any form (150 in a ODI). Gibson was there and isolated himself from the team, maybe he was jealous of Chanderpaul then and created this vendetta which he is pursuing now. Just ask Viv, who is a true Windian what he really thinks of Gibson.

Posted by AusieBangaleeShameem on (April 7, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

I will call this a depleted WI team without Gayle, Narine, Pollard, Samuels and Bravo. Much weaker than one who lost home series against Bangladesh.

Posted by Fareen on (April 7, 2012, 19:19 GMT)

It's a shame that now-a-days some players are not interested in playing for their country and are running after the money IPL is all about. I'm sure windies legends like viv richards, gary sobers etc. are scratching their heads thinking what has happened to their team. Shame. I hope Sunil Narine understands it someday what he's doing with his career.

Posted by swervin on (April 7, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

as an aussie fan, it is a truly a joke and a mystery that gayle and pollard are not playing in the windies test team- and looking at narine so far, it seems pretty clear he has a heap of potential and should be there too

Posted by Geeva on (April 7, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

It seem the West Indies will have to unfortunantly schedule there international season from Feb to March .The IPL should also be only in April(less is better).The ICC should rule that if a player is selected for his country he cant play IPL(I rem when IPL started they said if a player is selected by his country he wouldnt have to choose,he would be compelled to play for his country) Also this series could have been played in Feb and March(but cricket austrailiia wanted the VB instead of a 5ODI vs India).IPL is really hurting Test Cricket(i wonder why SL vs Eng only 2 matches???

Posted by FairGameFan on (April 7, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

People keeping saying Gibson was an average cricket, what does that have to do with his ability to coach? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Go nad tell Jose Mourinho he noes nothing about football. Team picked based on merit, please, when has that ever happened in West Indies cricket? Some people cannot accept the the team has been improving, playing more consistent cricket for longer passes of play. No matter what they say or do, when Gibson and Sammy are finished the team will be well on its way to being consistently competitive. Those who cannot see what the IPL is doing to WI cricket don't care, never have and never will about our cricket. WI cricket will live on despite the detractors.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (April 7, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

Don't blame the IPL ...

in 2011 Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan refused IPL contracts to put West Indies 1st ....

and all watched WI & IPL cricket comfortably on thier TV's as the WICB asked them to put country 1st and then dropped all of them from the side for 2 months ....

(when they could have all been playing in the IPL) ....

the WICB has brought this on themselves ....

Perdo Collins retired from WI cricket because bowlers averaging over 40 in test cricket were ALWAYS picked before him. Pedro was the best bowler in the regional game for 2 years in a row, and was averaging 34 in Test cricket and had to hope a guy averaging 36, 38, or 40 was injured for him to get a game ...

WI is ranked 8th, cuz we have a horrible administration.. our players (who can't make the Test team) are #1 's .... the IPL proves that .....

Posted by suko99 on (April 7, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

@ Iline Richards - Mate u r dead right !! Ottis Gibson was a less than a mediocre player now is destroying WI cricket systematically. He is personally responsible for desteoying careers of Gayle , Sarwan, Bravo, Chanderpaul, Pollard now Narine. True IPL is destroying world cricket. But it does give these discarded players a safety net & they are assured of a pay check. Weather permitting it's gonna be 3-0 to Australia.

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (April 7, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

I dont get it. He should be playing test cricket and not club cricket.How can WI not select him for test cricket beats me. With him they had a slim chance of winning the test series. Honestly I do not know how the WI board operates or selects the team etc. but to not have players like Suniul, Gayle, Pollard is baffling.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (April 7, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

This is the business of cricket. You can't really blame Narine because he's not contracted so it's fair enough that he takes what is a substantially better financial option. You can't really blame the WICB because he hasn't proven himself yet to be contracted. You can't really blame his IPL franchise because they're a business and he's an asset. It's an unfortunate situation but the WICB need to decide quickly whether he's worth contracting if they want to avoid this happening again.

Posted by here2rock on (April 7, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

IPL is not helping West Indies cricket and they don't ban their players from IPL. It has taken priority over coutry. The West Indies Cricket Board lack vision.

Posted by rama_krish on (April 7, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

Only the author can commiserate about the team culture that Sammy and Gibson are creating. For us West Indians, we wait for the day when the team will be selected on merit rather than politics. As for Narine and Bishoo playing on the team simultaneously - do not hold your breath; that is not the WI tradition.

Posted by sadha1972 on (April 7, 2012, 12:20 GMT)

WELL DONE SUNIL FOR GOING TO THE IPL. THE AUSSIES ARE MILLIONAIRES SO THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMMENT ON YOU TAKING AN IPL CONTRACT OVER PLAYING FOR THE WI. I THINK THE WI SELECTORS SHOULD QUIT FOR NOT PICKING A LOT OF TALENTED PLAYERS EG KEVON COOPER IN THE TEAM AND PICKING MEDIOCRE PLAYERS.

Posted by Metman on (April 7, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

@ Harvey Gangadeen !...VICE CHANCELLOR'S UWI XI,a team sanctioned by the WICB to play in the local 4 day tournament ???????????????????,man !.. YOU must be from another planet for not knowing that this is CANNOT be true ! Narine has established himself at the ONE DAY level mostly for TnT and in the IPL......he has not fully established himself playing those ONE day games for the WI as yet...he has not even established himself at the test level.What all ya want Otis Gibson to say ? The man was asked about Narine.....he didn't lie or critisize him for going to the IPL.It seems that you too have your own agenda !

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

I have full confidence in Darren Sammy and Otis Gibson.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 10:43 GMT)

stop blaming ipl, u better keep on giving chances to the players

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

Gibson, was an average test player in his time, was not able to make the WI team as a long term player. With that in mind , Mr.Gibson is going to select players who mirror his ability, players whom he thought are being overlooked,just like himselfi his test career- Sammy, Hyatt, Powell etc. The players who have been marginalized - Gayle, Sawan, Bravo, Chandrapaul- players who whose talent are above Mr Gibson's at this time in his career.

Posted by NP_NY on (April 7, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

@inefekt: Looks like you're making a general statement here and not specifically about Narine, because he doesn't have a WICB contract anyway. Now moving on to the age old discussion about IPL vs international duties.....Players choose IPL over international duties for the same reason that most of us choose to work for well-paying corporations as opposed to NGOs. Everyone has a right to secure their financial situation. Question is why should the fans and boards be so selfish to expect the players to sacrifice IPL for international duties, when IPL happens every year in he same short timeframe. Why not schedule international tours around it?!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

fire the assistant editor please..how can he write something so foolish about Narine's future being in question? steups....

Posted by Winsome on (April 7, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

I'd never blame a player for choosing IPL over playing for the West Indies. The board appears to be perpetually at war with its best players. The players have to look after themselves in that environment.

Posted by Midonoff on (April 7, 2012, 8:01 GMT)

West Indies did well last couple of series with Bishoo in the side, where West Indies were very competitive. I believe had Ponting, Clarke and Hussey gone to the IPL, Australia may be giving a hiding from this West Indies side (talking about bench strength). West Indies don't have the services of Gale, Bravo, Narine but are a good team still

Posted by Drew2 on (April 7, 2012, 7:58 GMT)

Regardless of the reasons why he isn't playing, (and I understand his reasons), this should never happen. A player of this talent should never be put in a position to choose twenty20 over international duties!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

Indeed he has no contract with the Windies and he does need to secure his financial future before he can play cricket for cricket's sake. Besides given the way West Indies selection has been taking place who is to say that he would have been selected? After all one the best batsman, Ramnaresh Sarwan, is sitting in the sidelines and Darren Sammy is keeping out a far better paceman whose place he occupies by virtue of being captain. Then there is Kieron Powell who has nothing to merit his selection while Assad Fudadin, who is one of the highest run getters in the current regional tournament cannot make the team.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

Poppycock that Narine just burst onto the seen and Gibson and co knew nothing about him. Where was he in the last year: playing international cricket for T&T in the Champions League; playing 4 day cricket for T&T and most shockingly before that, PLAYING FOR THE VICE CHANCELLOR'S UWI 11, a team sanctioned by the WIBC to play in the local 4 day tournament. Gibson is either from a different planet for not knowing this or rather choosing not to know this. This myth that he cares for Windies must be dispelled once and for all, in 1999 he was in South Africa with the team and was a loner, refusing to even field as 12th man. He hen disappeared to England to pursue his own county agenda leaving us at a time when we needed fast bowlers. This is the man and this is the board that now wants to tell us what to do.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

WICB needs to give him a contract, if they want to keep him.

Posted by Alexei on (April 7, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

I agree with Jordan Lee, that's the most important thing we're all forgetting... He's not contracted, to me its WICB/selectors fault why he isn't playing against the Aussies

Posted by csowmi7 on (April 7, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

narine will get many more chances to play test cricket in the future but he may never get this kind of paycheck. First he needs to secure his financial future considering the sorry state of WI cricket and their board. I am sure that he will play the next test series.

Posted by inefekt on (April 7, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

Choosing IPL over national duties is an absolute disgrace. ICC should stipulate that a player's obligations are with his national side, not his IPL side therefore should any clashes occur during the IPL season then the player should be forced to play for his national side. IPL is ruining the game.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

You talk about the Australian players staying till the tests are over but aren't all those guys under contract? Sunil is not. It's not fair to ask him to stay while the WICB has not been willing to offer him a contract and it's also not fair to condemn him for going.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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