Denesh Ramdin was set up to be dropped from the West Indies team.
That’s the verdict of former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies wicketkeeper Deryck Murray, who has joined two other former Test wicketkeepers in questioning the decision of the Courtney Browne-led selection panel to axe Ramdin.
Murray said today during an interview with cricbuzz that the decision to dump Ramdin had left him confused and disappointed. Murray said the West Indies hierarchy had promoted Ramdin in the line-up and asked him to play as a specialist batsman and had then judged him on his failure to make runs consistently.
“It brings into the question what really is the selection policy and their understanding of the importance and role of a wicketkeeper. Call me old-fashioned, but I maintain the belief long after my playing days that you always pick your best keeper first – even more so in Test cricket,” Murray argued.
“I hope to hear a clear explanation from the selectors on this,” Murray, who played for the West Indies between 1963 and 1980, added.
Outstanding former Jamaica and West Indies glovesman-turned-broadcaster Jeffrey Dujon was of a similar view. Dujon said he appreciated what Browne had said about Ramdin’s poor Test batting average but added that within the present West Indies context Ramdin’s omission was unreasonable
“I can vaguely understand the explanations by selectors regarding his average, especially when comparing it to other keepers around the world, but in the current context of the West Indies team his exclusion, at this time, doesn’t make sense,” Dujon said.
Dujon suggested that Ramdin was a good player of spin, in particular, and his experience in games against an Indian team would be invaluable. In 12 Test innings against India between 2006 and 2013 Ramdin has scored 236 runs, with five not outs, 62 being the highest of his two half-centuries and he averages 33.71. Overall he averages 25 from 74 Tests.
“He is the best-equipped keeper-batsman right now in the West Indies. The batting and balancing of the team have been weakened for a long time by them placing him to bat too high in Tests,” Dujon said.
Former Jamaica and West Indies wicketkeeper Jackie Hendricks also joined in the debate. He suggested that if Ramdin’s wicketkeeping was not an issue, the selectors should deal with the batsmen in the team who were not performing rather than focus on Ramdin.
“The teams are so unbalanced, which is forcing Ramdin to bat out of position. So if the issue is not with his wicketkeeping, the selectors need to focus more on the top-order batsmen who aren’t scoring runs consistently,” Hendricks, who played for West Indies between 1962 and 1969, noted.
Browne recently stressed that under his tenure selection to the West Indies team would depend on consistency and be guided by statistical analysis. He however added that he would not be hiding from subjective choices.
Looking ahead to the imminent Tests, Browne said he was expecting a competitive series against India. The visitors are the world’s number four ranked Test team and play the eighth ranked West Indies in a four-match series widely expected to be dominated by the Virat Kohli-led squad. However, Browne, who took over as chairman of selectors from West Indies legend Clive Lloyd, expects the match-up between the two teams to be quite opposite to the predictions.
“In all we are expecting good cricket. We are not saying that we are going to roll over or steamroll the Indians, but we expect to see a credible performance from the team,” Browne said.
The West Indies have lost their last two Test matches held on regional soil against India – 1-0 losses in 2006 and 2011. They last registered a win over India in the Caribbean in 2002 and have not won a Test series since a 2014 win over Test minnows Bangladesh.
“Successes for us mean centuries, five-wicket hauls, drawing Test matches, even winning Test matches, that is the type of success we expect,” Browne said.