Bad umpiring decisions not to blame
So, should the West Indies Cricket Board threaten to cut short Sri Lanka's visit unless Billy Bowden and Simon Taufel are censured for their critical errors on the final day of the first Test in Guyana, or is that just the prerogative of the financial and traditional power brokers of the game?
The utter ridiculousness of India's protest against Steve Bucknor in Australia three months ago and the weak-kneed kowtowing of the ICC are highlighted by the fact that no-one in any position of influence in the West Indian administration is really considering any form of drastic action over something that always has been, and always will be, part of the game, at least until greater use is made of the available technology. And even then I'm sure there will still be all sorts of debates and accusations, simply because the technology is not absolutely foolproof.
Of course, the talk at all levels is about the home side getting a raw deal when it really mattered in Bowden's decision to rule Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw to Thilan Thushara and Taufel's upholding of an appeal for a catch down the leg-side when Ryan Hinds swung at a wide delivery from Muttiah Muralitharan on Wednesday. But that's where it will remain: the domain of heated old talk.
Why won't we take it any further? Maybe it has to do with a colonial mentality that conditions us to never question every dictate from our supposed superiors, even when we were the ones ruling the game on the field (remember the genesis of the one bouncer per batsman per over rule?). Or maybe, somewhat reluctantly, we accept that this is all part of the game of cricket and that the reason we have become one of the whipping boys of the international game over the last decade has more to do with our own failings than anyone else's or any calculated effort by elite umpires to keep us down.
Anyway, none of that really addresses what we do, tactically, for the next Test, although it's worth remembering every so often that circumstances are more uneven at the administrative level than on the playing side, although we remain preoccupied with the decisions that go against us and pretend that the ones working in our favour are no big deal.
Now that it is confirmed the West Indies captain just does not want to face Vaas, especially with a new ball (he stayed anchored at the non-striker's end despite lengthy occupation of the crease and left it up to Jerome Taylor and Powell to cope with the wily seamer), it means, as he virtually admitted after play on Wednesday, he will stay in the middle-order for the final match at the Queen's Park Oval next week.
But it is surely asking a lot for Dwayne Bravo to bowl as often as he is required to and then walk out to take first strike, even if he exceeded expectations with his innings of 83 at Providence. Gayle conceded as much in his post-match comments, so does it mean that solid innings from Daren Ganga against Barbados this weekend at Guaracara Park will put the Trinidad and Tobago captain back in contention?
With Devon Smith wasting the opportunity given to him by Sewnarine Chattergoon's viral illness, common sense dictates that the Guyanese left-hander, assuming he is healthy again, will make his Test debut next Thursday at the expense of the under-performing Grenadian. Who will partner him though is another matter.
|If Marlon Samuels is distracted by the misconduct charge against him, then it would be better if he stays out of the squad until the issue is finally sorted out one way or the other -|
Ganga's average of 25.70 after 48 Tests as a frontline batsman hardly merits a recall, so it will not be surprising if the selectors opt for Denesh Ramdin to go in at the top of the order, especially as he did the job capably when filling in for the injured Gayle in the second innings of the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town at the start of the year. Again, consideration may be given to the wicketkeeper-batsman's workload and a back injury that has him resting from the clash with the Bajans that began on March 28.
In fact, when you look around, there may be other holes that need filling, given Hinds' thigh strain and Marlon Samuels' utterly disinterested demeanour, even more than usual. It may be harsh to consider omitting a player who was so consistently successful as recently as the South African tour, but if he is distracted by the misconduct charge against him, then it would be better if he stays out of the squad until the issue is finally sorted out one way or the other.
Callous and uncaring? Maybe, but a team that is already struggling so desperately as the West Indies cannot afford to be carrying passengers whose minds are elsewhere.
And on that point, where is Gayle's mind right now, having abdicated his responsibility as captain and senior batsman, all because of an almost apoplectic fear of facing Vaas, although there is an opinion that Powell had delusions of grandeur and was hogging the strike from his captain in the final moments two days ago? It may be all fun and games and big lash for so for the three one-day Internationals, but what's going to happen whenever he walks in to bat at the Oval in the second Test?
When you really think of it, we have too many problems of our own making to even bother with throwing around whatever little weight we have over umpiring decisions.
Fazeer Mohammed is a writer and broadcaster in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad