NEW SELECTORS MUST BRING FRESHNESS TO LEADERSHIP AND MAKE-UP OF TEAM
FOR NEXT CARIBBEAN TOURNAMENT IN JANUARY
As the interim Barbados senior selection panel make its exit after six months and heartiest congratulations are extended to the new committee appointed a few days ago, it must be conceded that the ‘interim’ men were hooked on proving a point that Kirk Edwards is the best man to lead the island in all versions of the game.With an excellent opportunity to expose another captain for at least two of the current three-match Goodwill Twenty20 series against Trinidad & Tobago in Barbados as preparations are stepped up for the 2012 Caribbean T20 tournament, the Livingstone Coppin-chaired ‘interim’ panel which included Barbados Cricket Association Director of Coaching Henderson Springer and his BCA coaching cohorts Vasbert Drakes and Emmerson Trotman, again put Edwards in the forefront.
Edwards, a West Indies Test batsman, first led Barbados in the Caribbean T20 tournament this year. He played in five matches, scored 72 runs with a highest of 31 not out, at an average of 24.00 and a strike rate of 84.70, striking five fours and three sixes.
All told he has played in 17 T20s, scoring 202 runs with a highest of 45 and a strike rate of 81.45, hitting 12 fours and six sixes.
During the course of the Caribbean T20, it was generally felt that Edwards was not suited to this form of the game and the double burden
of skippering the side and trying to justify his presence as a batsman took its toll.
Yet he was retained as captain for the four-nation series in Trinidad earlier this month dubbed Asia v the Caribbean and featuring Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Independence of Trinidad & Tobago.
After again struggling with the bat in the first two matches with scores of five and five against Bangladesh and Trinidad & Tobago, he was rested for the final match against eventual champions Afghanistan with Shamarh Brooks taking over the captaincy.
When it was belated announced that Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean T20 champions, were to visit Barbados for a three-match series as part of their preparations for the Champions League in South Africa next month, it was felt by a vast majority that the ‘interim’ selectors had an excellent opportunity to give another player a chance to lead the side.
Instead, they took a ‘safe’ route of naming Edwards as captain for the first and last matches with Brooks taking over for the second game.
The first two matches were played under lights at Kensington Oval on Wednesday and Thursday with Trinidad & Tobago winning the first by three wickets with four balls remaining and the second by eight wickets with as many as 3.5 overs to spare.
Not only was there another failure with the bat for Edwards on Wednesday when he was dismissed third ball without scoring but he seemed rather helpless at times with his field setting. To see two fielders at third man during an over was ludicrous to say the least.
If Brooks has been identified as an alternative leader in the absence of Dwayne Smith who is with the West Indies team at the ICC T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, then he should have been asked to captain the side in all three matches or at least two, to give him the confidence and right mindset.
Not only was Brooks just given the nod for the second game but also he was not selected for the final match, which was slated for this afternoon at Pine Basin.
To say that the interim committee played musical cheers with Edwards and Brooks as captains is putting it mildly. When Edwards was unavailable for a few first-class matches this year because of injury, Brooks led the team even though his form with the bat was indifferent.
The challenge now for the new selection panel of chairman Henderson Wallace, fellow first-timer Sherlon Greaves and Henderson Broomes, who served previously from 2008 to 2010, is to identify a captain for the Caribbean T20 next January. In other words, a player who not only can lead but also command a place in the side.
In the circumstances, that player must be Smith. It is no secret that he is not a favourite of some BCA Board members but there is a time and place for everything and it would be incredible if Edwards is again asked to lead the T20 side.
With the regional four-day and Super50 championships to be played simultaneously for the first time in over 15 years next season, the selectors can allow Edwards to captain the team in both of those versions. He is a smart enough player to build a quality innings in 50-over cricket but T20 is clearly asking too much of him.
It was refreshing, however, that the ‘interim’ selectors gave an opportunity to some new players for the ongoing series against Trinidad & Tobago but it would been a bit more prudent to have the likes of the experienced all-rounder and former national captain Ryan Hinds, fast bowler Tino Best and batting all-rounder Jonathan Carter in the first two matches instead of holding them back for the final game.
Chances are that Barbados would have won at least one of those matches, making today’s game far more exciting. That is not to say it shouldn’t be since Barbados would want to avoid a clean sweep.
Now we will keep a close tab on the new selectors. Wallace is a former Barbados Under-19 team fast bowling all-rounder who played at that level between 1981 and 1983, while Greaves and Broomes both represented the national Under-19s as well, with Greaves going on to play for the senior team in both four-day and one-day championships, while Broomes turned out for the island in one-day matches.
The burly Wallace, who celebrated his 49th birthday last Saturday,is a highly respected regional and international radio analyst, who has also coached Barbados on an interim basis and has worked with Combined
Campuses & Colleges in a ‘quiet’ coaching capacity as well.
He has come through the ranks from his days at Coleridge & Parry when he represented the Combined Schools in the BCA First division championship before turning out for Pickwick.
From a professional perspective, he played in Ireland for 21 years.
He represented Eglinton in Northern Ireland for 14 years, then had four years for Leinster and another three for Phoenix in Southern Ireland.
Wallace also had some playing experience in Australia, having represented Gordon in Sydney in First Grade competition in 1984. He was also a standby for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield.
The 50-year-old Greaves distinguished himself as one of the leading all-rounders in the BCA Division 1 championship for many years, batting in the middle and bowling leg-spin for Empire whom he also captained with distinction after coming through the schools system as well from Alleyne and Combined Schools in the late 1970s.
Broomes, 43, is a product of Ellerslie and was known as a hard-working fast bowler, who went to play for Carlton.
It is now up to them to bring some freshness to selection policies, most of all the T20 version and the person to captain the team. Good luck, gentlemen!
*Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).