It has been suggested that the people of Trinidad & Tobago would be boycotting the first Cable & Wireless Test match which starts on Thursday next at the Queens Park Oval between Zimbabwe and the West Indies. Apparently, many are peeved that no players from the twin island republic were selected in the West Indies final 13 for that game. My simple question, if that activity became a reality, would be: WHY??
Let us examine the facts here.
Brian Lara is not available to be selected, so he made himself a non-starter.
Merve Dillon, who, incidentally, is a good friend of mine, has had some chances and, quite frankly, have blown them. It is generally accepted now that the pecking order of the younger and selected (for the camp in Jamaica) West Indian fast bowlers is as follows: Reon King of Guyana, Franklyn Rose of Jamaica, Merve Dillon of T&T and Nixon McLean of St. Vincent & the Grenadines and the Windward Islands.
King is easily the most improved West Indian fast bowler over the last year or so, and has become almost a certainty, even though his aggression is still lacking somewhat. Rose, on the other hand, was left out for an entire year while Dillon was given the chances he never really took. Rose has now come back afresh and has had 22 wickets in the regional Busta Cup competition, helping Jamaica, in no small way, to win that competition. In the meantime, Dillon was injured most of the 2000 Busta Cup.
Therefore, in order to be selected, when at position No. 5 overall, Dillon has to hope that the "big boys", Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, No's 1 & 2, are not selected, for whatever reason. Unfortunately for Dillon, both have been selected, so there could be no place for him. These are the cold hard facts, not sentiment.
I believe that Dininath Ramnarine was very lucky to go to that camp in Jamaica in the first place. Even fans from T&T could not tell of any devastating spells that he had this year. That is because there was none. Having seen him bowl at least twice this year, two things were evident for me from Ramnarine. Firstly, he was not physically ready for the first class season. Driving around more than running around never gets anyone fit. Then, his shoulder seem to be dropping more that he did in the past, when delivering the ball, hence no bight nor excessive turn. Indeed, the last time that Ramnarine bowled well was in the 1st Test in New Zealand last year. Then, for some strange reason, he was dropped for the next Test. That is all water under the bridge now, as his form, and especially his fitness, has deteriorated rapidly since then.
In the 2000 Busta Cup, Mahendra Nagamootoo, another leg spinner, like Ramnarine, got 30 plus wickets for Guyana. If there was a need for a leg-spinner, then even with his Test pedigree, Ramnarine should have been considered only after Nagamootoo, since, in the Busta Cup competition, Nagamootoo outbowled Ramnarine by about three to one. Indeed, in the game featuring Ramnarine and Nagamootoo against each other, "Nagas" and King almost embarrassed T&T. Ramnarine did very little. These are also cold hard facts.
Many might say that Ramnarine is a Test player, might even be a "better" bowler that Nagamootoo, and that he should have had the edge. This is as, maybe. While that consideration is acceptable, I also agree that the Busta Cup, our yard stick for first class cricket in the Caribbean, must carry some immediate weight. Just look at Chris Gayle, the Jamaican batsman. He made over 600 runs this year and was correctly included.
So, the long and the short of it all is that outside of Dillon and Ramnarine, no other players from T&T deserve to be considered. Neither of these two were good enough, in my mind, to make the final cut.
Not going to the cricket will not help anyone. The West Indies cricket team players are trying to get some cohesion to move forward, ever so slowly. They, more than anyone, need the support. The West Indian cricket fraternity, WICB and fans alike, are hoping for a hefty boon in the 2007 Cricket World Cup and, strangely, but pleasantly, the governments of the Caribbean now seem to want to unite and work together. While the last thought is a good one, we must wait to see what happens.
With all this in mind, and the cold facts that outside of Ramnarine and Dillon, and with Lara removed from the considerations, no other player from Trinidad & Tobago deserved a mention, much less a selection, one wonders "Where is the 'beef'?".
One final thought. I played in a Test match in Jamaica in 1977 with no Jamaicans in the team. The game was sold out.
These are the truth and the facts and nothing but the truth and the facts. Those inhabitants of T&T who now miss this inaugural Test by Zimbabwe will miss history. There is never a second first. Ask the boycotting Barbadians of 1992, when they boycotted South Africa's first game against the West Indies since coming out of isolation. Until the Lara-influenced Australia v West Indies clash early last year in Barbados, that game between South Africa and the West Indies in 1992 was the best ever played in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, only a small but fortunate bunch saw it.
So, the conclusion is simply. There is no reason to boycott and cricket game, especially the 1st Test between Zimbabwe and the West Indies. Therefore, the logical conclusion is simple: Turn up at the game and enjoy!