West Indies v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Trinidad April 8, 2008

Former players insist on need for specialist bowlers

Cricinfo staff

Bryan Davis: "Dwayne Bravo is a support bowler, the fifth bowler. He's an allrounder" © AFP

Former West Indies players Deryck Murray and Bryan Davis were pleased with the team's win over Sri Lanka in Trinidad but they felt Chris Gayle should have gone with four specialist fast bowlers instead of banking on Dwayne Bravo to fill the fourth spot.

"It's very good to have two wins out of five matches against two countries [West Indies beat South Africa in Port Elizabeth last December] who are higher on the table," Davis, a former Test opener, told Trinidad Express.

"It should make them feel good, and better about themselves. [But] I don't consider Bravo a specialist bowler. He's a good bowler, but he's a support bowler, the fifth bowler. He's an allrounder. We're missing that [fourth] bowler."

"Once you have to put in the four specialist bowlers, I believe batsmen like Bravo and [Denesh] Ramdin have to come to the fore and make runs, and improve their approach. They are the ones at No. 6and 7 to make some runs, not counting out specialist bowlers."

Murray, the Trinidad and Tobago board president, also said the batsmen had to pull their weight in the side. "What we need to be doing is when you select your teams you select six people as specialists. You need to put the responsibility on the batsman, six batsmen need to do the job."

Murray also explained the need for a spinner to introduce variety in to the attack. "Whether it's a more containing type of bowler as opposed to the wicket-taking spinner, and you need two or three close to the team. [It's been] hard on our spinners over the last three or four years, who have been the leading wicket-takers over the last few years and they deserve recognition."

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop was delighted with the win but cautioned that domestic cricket in the region wasn't in the best shape. "It confirms that there is talent in the side that can be competitive with other teams in the world, and the talent can be harnessed if the players are really hungry and thoughtful," he told AFP. "But there is still much work to do in the regional game and the team itself."

He was also concerned about the shallow talent pool in West Indies cricket and urged the board to provide the required support to build a strong side. "The strength in depth is poor. There are not many players in the first-class game in the Caribbean - based on performance - who can come in at a moment's notice to make a difference to the team because the first-class standard is so poor," he said. "But the environment and culture must be created in the Caribbean by the administration to facilitate that culture and work ethic."