As relieved as West Indian fans should be over the fighting five-wicket win by Jason Holder’s team in the third and final Test against Pakistan in Sharjah yesterday despite losing the series 2-1, the shabby way in which the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) dealt with disclosing two changes to the 15-man squad for the Tri-series in Zimbabwe this month cannot be swept under the carpet.
It was a nice feeling after West Indies registered their first away Test win since 2007 – excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe – when they defeated South Africa by 128 runs at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth under the captaincy of Chris Gayle.
Of the current side, batsman Marlon Samuels is the only survivor of that victory against South Africa.
There was also the great feat of Kraigg Brathwaite becoming the first opener to be unbeaten in both innings of a Test with scores of 142 and 60. The headline “Un-outable Brathwaite seals rare victory” carried on Cricinfo, was very catchy.
And it would have been a big relief for fast bowling all-rounder Jason Holder to register his first Test win in 12 matches as captain, as well as his first five-wicket haul (five for 30 in the second innings).
Yet, while we should not be carried away with the win and trust that the team can go from strength to strength, the WICB cannot escape criticism for its poor public relations yet again in pointing out that two changes had been made to the original ODI team which was named ever since October 12 for the series which embraces Zimbabwe, West Indies and Sri Lanka.
While the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) website stated reasons for fast bowler Miguel Cummins and wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich – both from Barbados – replacing Alzarri Joseph and Samuels in the squad, the WICB simply gave no reason.
Instead, in its Press release, which I received yesterday at 4:43 p.m., the only indication of the replacements came by way of the names of Cummins and Dowrich being highlighted in yellow with a dash beside them and the following words: “replaces Alzarri Joseph, replaces Marlon Samuels”.
Since October 24 at a BCA Press conference at Kensington Oval to announce the Barbados Pride squad for their opening round Digicel Regional first-class match against Leeward Islands Hurricanes in St. Kitts, starting November 11, the following was reported on the BCA website:
“But an immediate change is expected to be made to the Kevin Stoute-led side, as just after chairman of selectors Henderson Wallace announced the squad at a mid-day Press conference at Kensington Oval, it was revealed that Miguel Cummins, currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the West Indies Test team for the three-match series against Pakistan, is to replace fellow fast bowler Alzarri Joseph in the regional team to tour Zimbabwe next month for a Tri-Nation One-Day International series.
“According to Conde Riley, the chairman of Cricket Franchise of Barbados Inc., and who is also a member of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Board of Management, as well as a WICB director, Joseph, who is in the UAE but has not played in the Test series against Pakistan, is to return to his native Antigua to be with his mother who is ill.”
Then again yesterday on the same website under the headline “BREAKING NEWS”, the following was reported in relation to Samuels withdrawing from the squad and being replaced by Dowrich.
“Veteran batsman Marlon Samuels has pulled out of the West Indies squad for the Tri-Nation One-Day International (ODI) series in Zimbabwe this month and will be replaced by gifted Test wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich of Barbados.
“Informed sources told BCAcricket.org that the 35-year-old Samuels, a veteran of 187 ODIs since his debut 16 years ago, did not sign his tour contract at the deadline for the series, which embraces Zimbabwe, West Indies and Sri Lanka.
“Samuels is also one of three current West Indies players who declined central contracts offered by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) for the period 2016-17. The others are experienced batsman Darren Bravo and fast bowling all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite.
“Also with 71 Tests and 51 Twenty20 Internationals against his name, Jamaican Samuels has been in woeful form with the bat in Tests since May 2015, scoring only 470 runs with three half-centuries, at an average of 18.80.
“Dowrich, who celebrated his 25th birthday on October 30, has played eight Tests but is yet to make his ODI debut.
“He will now be the ninth Barbadian in the 15-man squad and the second to be drafted in over the past 11 days after Miguel Cummins replaced fellow fast bowler Alzarri Joseph.
“Joseph, who like Cummins, Samuels and Dowrich all played in the three-match Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, which ended today, is returning to his native Antigua to be with his mother, who is reportedly unwell.
“The other Barbadians in the squad are captain and fast bowling all-rounder Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, who is the West Indies T20 skipper, opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite, first choice wicket-keeper/batsman Shai Hope, who like Dowrich is yet to make his ODI debut, middle order batsman Jonathan Carter, left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn and off-spinner Ashley Nurse.
“Both Dowrich and Cummins had been named in the original Barbados Pride 13-man squad for the opening round Digicel Regional first-class match against Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park in St. Kitts, starting November 11.”
Now, here is what Cricinfo reported today under the headline: “WI bring in Dowrich, leave out Samuels”. “Following his heroic efforts in Sharjah, which helped West Indies to a rare away-Test win, wicket-keeper-batsman Shane Dowrich has been drafted into the ODI squad to play in the tri-series in Zimbabwe later this month. Fast bowler Miguel Cummins was also brought into the 15, with the two being left out at their expense being the experienced batsman Marlon Samuels and teenage fast bowler Alzarri Joseph”.
Such a story gives the impression that Samuels and Joseph were dropped from the squad when in fact, they both pulled out for contrasting reasons.
Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron, the WICB president, must understand that the release which came from the Board’s headquarters in Antigua is totally unacceptable.
There was absolutely no explanation as to why Samuels and Joseph were no longer in the squad.
Cameron and the public relations staff ought to be told in no uncertain way that the media and by extension the public deserve better. Such serious issues cannot be treated as though one is having a drink at a bar in Factory Road or Derrymore Road.
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 (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights.