West Indies starts another home test series against Sri-Lanka on March 22, and moving up the ranks from number eight in the ICC test rankings will obviously be on their agenda. The squad of 15 chosen shows very little surprise and the two new comers in Amit Jaggernauth and Suleiman Benn will be eager to get into the final eleven and try to secure a spot in the team.
Judging from what is taking place in world cricket and the status of our present day activities, it would take a real optimist to entertain any serious consideration of West Indies going up that ladder during this series. Our dismal failures in South Africa and the fact that there has been no dramatic change in the form of our players, is certainly not very good news.
Clearly, it seems like West Indies are in for the long haul as far as redeeming our cricketing status. We once produced a series of quality cricketers and were at the pinnacle of world cricket for almost 20 years.
Apart from only a small pool of players here at home, the focus on the Stanford 20/20 tournament, the present threat that our best players will be lured to the Indian Playing League and other related matters, our test playing future looks as bleak as it has been for the past twelve years.
Being West Indian supporting our team, rallying around them and backing them regardless, will never make us winners if they themselves do not do what is required for them to do in order to win matches. Of course they are subject to WICB and their policies that has proven to be well below what is expected as a test playing body for over 75 years.
However, it will be interesting to see what transpires with the two new comers. West Indies has not had a genuine spinner in the team consistently for any length of time since Lance Gibbs. Both Jaggernauth and Benn are seemingly ripe and ready to go. Bowling to Sri Lanka won’t be easy for them and their mettle will be truly tested.
Spinners have done well in our local competitions but when test opportunities arrive, they somehow fold up and seldom ever return. With eager anxiety I’ll be waiting to see how this pair pans out.
Our batting remains poor and probably below par. With captain Gayle struggling and no other proven test reliable opener, Chanderpaul again will have to do the big job for the team. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels still need to produce more consistently and with so many clouds hanging over Samuels’ head, performing well in this series is going to be a huge challenge for him.
Our bowlers and fielders still do not impress consistently at the test level. However, playing at home is an advantage we always seem to relish and that often see us through.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka must be hopefully expectant of doing well as their recent test performances have been relatively good, contrary to those of our Caribbean team.