Australia in the West Indies 2012 April 7, 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

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Other missing men, including Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels, have been replaced by younger talent, and in the case of Samuels it is possible that the determined contributions of Narsingh Deonarine will prove capable of overshadowing the man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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • charlie 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 ?

  • Dummy4 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.

  • shameem 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.

  • Ahnaf 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.

  • Ant 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

  • 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???

  • Emmanuel 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.

  • Ali 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 .....

  • suresh 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.

  • Subash 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.

  • No featured comments at the moment.