While CARICOM’s cricket subcommittee appears hell-bent on pinning West Indies cricket woes on CWI president Dave Cameron, a former West Indies cricketer is advising that throwing mainly young players on to the international arena is not helping West Indies cause.
Indeed, Barbadian fast bowler Fidel Edwards told Barbados TODAY that one of the current team’s major problems is lack of experience and the regional selectors’ propensity for discarding players the wrong side of thirty was not helping the situation. Edwards himself was dumped at age 30 in 2012 after taking 165 wickets in 55 Tests, including a seven-wicket match haul in his very last Test.
Edwards said a West Indies team comprised of young players without a lot of experience would make it difficult for them to be competitive in international cricket. He explained that even though the cricketers had the skills, they lacked the in-depth knowledge to help each other in difficult circumstances.
“A team needs experienced cricketers to guide its younger players. This is not happening in the team at the moment. We have a team with several young players who are drawing from each other, this is going to make it hard to be competitive in Test cricket and can also have an impact on their improvement,” Edwards said
Edwards added: “When these players reach the age of 30 and are now beginning to understand their game they are considered to be old and dropped from the team. Hopefully, we can get away from dropping players at an early age and let these guys grow together and learn from each other. This will not be easy because we are not going to win a lot of matches while we are going through this process but we will be building a team that hopefully would make us competitive again. It is going to be difficult for the West Indies to get back to the top, but we got to start somewhere, and if playing young players is the way we have decided to go, these young players must be given the chance to mature and develop and not be discarded at an early age.”
The former international who was catapulted into the West Indies team in 2003 as a rookie after impressing West Indies captain Brian Lara in the nets, said there were a number of current players with whom he was quite impressed. He described batsman Shai Hope as “a class act”.
“Even when Shai is batting in the nets it is clear he is a batsman of the highest class, everything about his batting is correct. He times the ball in the correct manner and his shot selection is excellent. Shai impressed everyone with his batting in England last year. He displayed the skills that are needed to be a top batsman in Test cricket, I think it is just a matter of time before he starts making runs more consistently,” Edwards said.
Roston Chase has also caught his eyes.
“Roston has improved tremendously. When he first came into the Barbados team some people had their doubts about him. Seeing how he has continued to improve and taken his game to the next level has really impressed me. I am really proud of Roston, he is an extremely dedicated cricketer, I hope he will continue to do well for himself and West Indies cricket,” Edwards said.
He expressed high hopes for fast bowler Miguel Cummins who he called an improving bowler and suggested that young Kemo Paul of Guyana had the makings of a good fast bowler. Edwards said he was overjoyed to see his former fast bowling partner Kemar Roach back in West Indies’ colours again.
“I am so happy to see Kemar back in the team and leading the attack. He and I have shared the new ball for Barbados and the West Indies. His recall will add experience to the bowling attack, hopefully, we will get a few young fast bowlers coming through under him,” Edwards said.
The product of St Peter said he had found a home with Hampshire in the English County Championship and was now in his fourth season. “ I am enjoying my game. I don’t have any complaints, I cannot say I miss playing for the West Indies that much. It would have been nice if I was still playing Test cricket but at this stage in my life, it is what it is,” Edwards said, adding he understood cricket a lot better now than when he was younger and was now a better bowler and able to take better care of his body.
Edwards, 36, said he had not started to think about life after cricket, and his main focus was to have a good season for Hampshire in the upcoming county season.