We are going to change gears in this editorial and indulge in some cricket analysis.
What are the criteria for a cricketer to be selected to represent the West Indies at the highest level of the game?
How was Runako Morton’s performance assessed in the recently concluded regional KFC Cup Competition and why is he not a member of the 15-man West Indian squad now touring Australia?
These are some of the questions cricket pundits and cricket lovers in the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis are asking.
Morton was second only to Ramnaresh Sarwan in the batting average in the KFC Cup Limited Overs Competition, scoring some 344 runs in six matches averaging 68.80 percent and 87 not out in the process.
Arguably, he should have been selected for the Australian tour ahead of Barbados’ Dwayne Smith whose average in the same competition was 31.42 percent from seven matches. He tallied 220 runs with 96 being his highest score.
Yes, it is true that Smith is younger than Morton and so is Sarwan to Chanderpaul, but age has no significance when compared with performance, especially at this crucial period of rebuilding the once mighty West Indies.
It is argued by many that Smith has better batting and bowling averages in test cricket than Morton. However, what they failed to take into consideration is the amount of matches these two young men played.
The record shows that Dwayne Smith (22), a right-hand batsman and right-arm medium bowler, played seven test matches batting in 10 innings and scored 268 runs, with 105 being his highest score to date. He averaged 29.77 percent at a scoring rate of 70.15 percent.
Morton (27), on the other hand, also a right-hand batsman but bowls right-arm offbreaks, played only two tests, batted in four innings scoring 53 runs at an average of 13.25 percent with 43 being his highest.
In the bowling department, Morton had 15 runs scored off his five overs with an economy rate of 3.00 but did not get any wickets, while in seven matches Smith bowled 55 overs and took three wickets for 169 runs averaging 56.33 percent.
In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Morton’s performance with the bat was better than Smith’s; in seven matches he scored 199 runs averaging 28.42 while Smith scored 474 runs in 25 innings from 30 matches and averaged 19.75.
Here again in First Class matches Morton outshone Smith. In 54 innings from 55 matches he scored 1,658 runs averaging 37.68 percent with a high of 126 as against Smith’s 66 innings from 39 matches, where he amassed 1,728 runs (highest score 114) at an average of 28.32 percent.
Is Smith’s selection a reminder of Morton’s past? Everybody, particularly in the Federation, and the Caribbean as a whole, knows what he did and the punishment awarded. However, the big question is, “Why wasn’t he selected?”
Smith’s selection has left me to wonder if we were still basking in the past and if the rumours concerning his acceptance in the West Indies team were true.
According to Vaneisa Baksh, “It is rumoured that it was because Viv Richards recognised something of himself in the stance of the young player, Dwayne Smith, that he was ushered into the West Indies team for that memorable start at Cape Town in South Africa in December 2003 where he scored 100 runs in 103 minutes off 93 balls, including 15 fours and one six.”
In spite of being chosen to represent the region in the lucrative Hong Kong Sixes Tournament in which they lost to India in the final, I would like to call upon the Leeward Islands Cricket Board and all cricket lovers in the Federation to rally behind Nevisian-born Runako Morton and let our voices be heard; for with one voice we can certainly reach the ears of the West Indies Cricket Board and the team’s selectors for future matches.