Ramdin focuses on mental challenge
Denesh Ramdin, West Indies new Test captain, is convinced there is the talent available in the Caribbean to revive their form over five days but they must overcome the mental frailties which have happened there attempts to climb the Test rankings.
He wants his team to play "smarter cricket" and is eager to impart his style of leadership and thinking, which he believes are the qualities the selectors have seen, on his team-mates beginning with the visit of New Zealand.
"For the last six to seven years, West Indies have gone off the boil in Tests because our opponents have out-thought us more. We need to think harder as a team," Ramdin told ESPNcricinfo. "The talent is there. The cricketing skill is always there but it's more mental with us. Since my West Indies U-19 experiences and Trinidad stints as captain, I've always focused and prided myself on proper analysis of the game and we need to improve on this to move up."
Ramdin is confident that he will be able to deal with the pressure, expectation and responsibility the captaincy brings having been vice-captain for five years but knows it will be an increasing challenge to ensure he continues to focus enough time on his own game, which is already to the dual role of being a keeper-batsman.
"Darren [Sammy] did well with the resources he had and many thanks to him but I'm relishing the challenge," he said, before the news of Sammy's retirement. "There will be ups and downs but I'm ready to balance it all. Over the past 12-15 months I've worked on my personal form and it remains the same - I want to help anchor the team and get the lower order to contribute more runs."
Ramdin was quick to pick out West Indies' batting as the area that needed immediate attention. "We need to bat better in both innings in a Test and not just one. We must have consistency because we've been faltering with the bat too much."
Ramdin mapped out his vision for the team on the pitch and said he felt the wicketkeeper's role was one that will benefit him in the captaincy. "I see a lot from behind the wicket - how the opposition bats to my bowlers - and this helps me in strategizing as it's the best view in the house.
"So now I have a more hands-on approach and more input to control things and to form tactics my way to get guys out based on what I see. This perspective would help in containing opponents and also, I get the best chance to assess the pitches constantly out there in the middle."
He sees the upcoming visit of New Zealand as a good litmus test as the teams are so close to each other in the Test rankings and because the teams have dominated each other in their respective home conditions over the past few years. Ramdin wants to overturn the losses suffered on tour of New Zealand, but despite beating them in the Caribbean on their previous visit has warned that they should not underestimate even though conditions are expected to favour West Indies' spinners far more.
With the captain involved more in team selection as per the recent mandates laid down by the WICB in accordance with the Pybus report, Ramdin said the door was open even to those who have been out of the Test side for a considerable time if they can show the required form.
This is particularly pertinent for Dwayne Bravo, who last played a Test in 2010 (or even first-class cricket since last year) but was termed "one of the best allrounders in the game and a matchwinner," who Ramdin "would love to have in the team as they have a great working relationship." Last month Bravo spoke of his frustration at having been overlooked for so long.
Ramdin also picked out Sunil Narine has having a key role to play in all formats, not just Twenty20, and said the likes of Bravo and Kieron Pollard can stake a claim for Test cricket although that will be difficult for the pair in the short term with Bravo currently nursing a shoulder injury and Pollard playing the IPL.
For now, Ramdin is starting to look forward to the Test series against New Zealand - the second match of which is in front of his home crowd in Trinidad. "The first Test in Jamaica is Chris [Gayle's] 100th so hopefully we can do well there and carry over the momentum to Trinidad. I am eager and happy to run out at home in front our fans."
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. @RenaldoMatadeen