Ramnaresh Ronnie Sarwan
June 23, 1980, Wakenaam Island, Essequibo, Guyana
Right hand bat
A nimble, Chaplinesque right-hander, Ramnaresh Sarwan was brought up in the South American rainforest around the Essequibo River. After his first Test innings, 84 not out against Pakistan, Ted Dexter was moved to predict a Test average of more than 50 - quite a millstone to hang around any young player's neck. But on his first tour, to England in 2000, Sarwan lived up to the hype by topping the averages. His footwork, which seemed to require no early trigger movements, was strikingly confident and precise.
It was a surprise when he then produced a horror run of three runs in five innings in Australia, but against India in 2001-02 he was back to his composed best. Sarwan, who took over as Brian Lara's vice-captain in March 2003, required 28 matches and 49 innings to post his maiden Test century - 119 in December 2002 - and even then it came against the less-than-mighty Bangladeshis. As the likes of Graham Gooch and Steve Waugh can testify, the first time is often the hardest.
A dream series against South Africa in 2003-04, where he averaged nearly 100 runs a Test, was followed by a lean run against England. But he returned to form in a stunning manner with an unbeaten 261 against Bangladesh in June. Then came an England tour in 2004 where he began and ended the tour on a low note, but was prolific in the middle. However, West Indian fortunes were on the ascendancy in one-dayers, as they reached the finals of the NatWest Series and then won the ICC Champions Trophy with Sarwan playing a big hand in both tournaments.
Sarwan was one of the players involved in a contract dispute with WICB and missed the first Test against South Africa in 2005. On his return he scored attractive runs, but was again overlooked for the captaincy when it was handed back to Brian Lara.
He didn't fare well with the bat in the 2006-07 season, averaging just 25.90 in 13 games he played till the end of the Champions Trophy. It was still a shock when he was dropped from the second Test against Pakistan in the away series in November. He returned for the third Test and sustained a foot injury which kept him out of the one-dayers against Pakistan and the tour of India.
Finally, the West Indies captaincy came his way following Lara's retirement. It wasn't exactly a field full of promising candidates as West Indies cricket yearned for true leadership. Injuries limited his appearances in 2007, and a friendly captaincy competition between Sarwan and Gayle continued with both players publicly supporting one another. Sarwan was Gayle's deputy on his return to the side in 2008 for the home series against Sri Lanka but the demotion did not affect his output, and he made three half-centuries and a hundred in the two Tests.
In the 2009 home series against England, Sarwan recorded his personal best of 291 in the first innings of the fourth Test, equalling the highest score for the West Indies made by Sir Vivian Richards. He scored his 15th Test century against England at Chester-le-Street in May of the same year but West Indies lost the series 2-0.
The following year, Sarwan lost his central contract in 2010, subsequently winning damages from the West Indies Cricket Board over comments made about his attitude and fitness. He played his last Test against India in Bridgetown in July 2011.
Having fallen out of international favour, he signed for English county Leicestershire for the 2012 English season and enjoyed noteworthy success in a struggling side, scoring two centuries in the Championship, another two in 40-over matches and falling short of 1,000 first-class runs largely because injury caused him to miss two matches. He agreed to return as four-day captain in 2013 but played only half the season because of injury and West Indies' limited-overs commitments.
West Indies recalled him for the first time in 18 months for the limited overs side that toured Australia in early 2013, although it was an inauspicious return. He was out without scoring in each of the first two ODIs and omitted after the third, in which he made 12. Australia won the series 5-0.
ESPNcricinfo staff - February 2013
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