It appears that WICB’s main purpose for a West Indies A-team tour is that of player development. Development as in, helping fringe senior team players to eliminate deficiencies, giving the next set of senior team players international exposure and exposing the post U-19 players to a high quality of competitive cricket not readily available on a continuous basis in the Caribbean.
WICB also intends to use the A-Team as the pool from which replacements will be drawn for the senior team players, who will be touring Sri Lanka at the same time as the A-team.
This examination of the A-team which is carded to leave for Sri Lanka on June 17th 2005, should determine how well aligned A-team objectives and selection are. In the cases where the two are found to be out of sync, a more suitable selection will be proffered.
Some names make excellent sense. Among them are Tino Best, Carlton Baugh, Narsingh Deonarine, Xavier Marshall, Runarko Morton, Ryan Ramdass, Dwayne Smith, Dwight Washington. These are players who have been recently selected under the new coach, Bennette King, for training camps and/or for the senior test or ODI squads.
To a lesser extent so do Kerry Jeremy and Marlon Samuels since they suit the WICB’s secondary A-team objective. Both can be used to replace our often mid-series injury prone bowlers. Jeremy has been there about as far as top quality of regional bowling presents but he has never been given a fair shake. Marlon offers another spin and all-rounder option.
Of the two however, it is not clear why Marlon was not co-opted straight into the senior squad. At this stage he needs the developmental work provided by the high powered coaching staff of the senior team. More importantly Marlon’s special fitness circumstances could be managed best by King, who indicated that Samuels along with Lara needed to be handled carefully.
It appears that the theme of ‘discipline’ surrounds Marlon’s selection. That this A-team selection serves as the last leg of his punishment for previous transgressions and also as an opportunity for them to observe improvements in his self discipline. This place should go to Darren Sammy, a youngster who is at a stage in his career where this exposure would be highly beneficial. Darren Sammy would be a perfect replacement for Samuels as he gives the all-rounder option to the team as well.
Dave Mohammed should not have been selected for the A-team tour at this time, for it comes across as if he is being rewarded in spite of his discipline problems. Unlike Runako Morton Mohammed does not appear to recognise his problems nor has he been sufficiently reprimanded for his transgressions during the just concluded FC season. Another youngster, such as Omari Banks, with good performances, maybe a senior team stint and who is prepared to fall in line should be given this opportunity. Development tours should not be used as a disciplinary tool for senior players and all effort should be made to avoid distractions like those Mohammed seems to present, especially with Darren Ganga named as A-Team captain.
This brings us to Darren Ganga. Ganga from observation personifies the kind of young leader/cricketer that WICB top brass like to work with. He was the captain of the previous ill-disciplined plagued A-team tour to the UK and Canada. From the reports of that tour it would appear that Ganga operates well within team authority and rules. He also has requisite FC experience as captain for Trinidad and Tobago.
It is not clear however how he fits the two main objectives used for assembling the A-team. Ganga has proven on many occasions that he can master FC conditions but that he falls flat at the higher level. It is really conjecture that more FC exposure will help Ganga fix his problems. As such another deserving youngster should have gotten Ganga’s space; probably his kid brother Sherwin Ganga. Then like all thoughtfully composed teams a captain should be named from among the deserving players.
It can be reasoned that of those selected the player most undeserving of his pick is Jeramine Lawson. The reports of his lack of fitness should have barred him from selection in the first place, since there will be no pre-tour camp which he could use to improve his conditioning. What is the point of taking him along when he may not be able to do much bowling because he is coming back from a back injury and is in poor physical condition? He, it appears. will be the obligatory tourist on this tour. It has to be asked also if his action is good enough to chance him not being called by an umpire for pelting. To eliminate this waste of a space either Kenroy Peters or Richard Kelly should have been taken to SL.
No offence to Nikita Miller and Dave Bernard Jnr but Ryan Hinds and Donavan Pagon would be better selections. Ryan Hinds is a spinner and he was only recently on senior team and is off the team because of injury/illness. The last reason for his non-selection was illness from mumps. Isn’t he sufficiently recovered yet? He is a known entity to senior team management as opposed to Miller.
If Donovan Pagon is healthy he should be picked ahead of David Bernard Jnr for the same reason he was picked for the recently concluded South Africa tour. Pagon also gives the team a third option at the number 1 or 2 position. If he is not fit then Bernard Jnr is a good to go.
Darren Ganga - Captain (Sherwin Ganga)
Dave Bernard (Donovan Pagon)
Jermaine Lawson (Kenroy Peter or Richard Kelly)
Nikita Miller (Ryan Hinds)
Dave Mohammed (Omari Banks)
Marlon Samuels (Darren Sammy)
Finally, there is good cause for concern when so many players on the development team come from one territory and none is named from another. The only good reason for this to occur is because it is patently true that the players from that favoured territory far outstrip (in perofrmance and talent) players from others. There is no indication from the last few FC seasons that that is so. This is a crucial opportunity for player development and as such it must be spread around the whole region to deserving players, as much as is possible.