By Bryan Davis, Former West Indies Test cricketer
Denesh Ramdin was not left out of the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) team for the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 because of his wicketkeeping skills. I agree with Tony Gray, chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago cricket selectors, when he commented in a recent newspaper interview that Ramdin’s ability behind the stumps is superior to all the other wicketkeepers in the Caribbean.
Was it because of his batting then? This could be an area of concern as his batting has not reflected his ability for quite a while. However, batting is the sort of problem the player himself, together with his coach, can improve in the practice nets along with motivating conversations.
I recall the keeper scoring a magnificent century in a Test match in England as a reaction to criticism from that maestro of cricket Sir Vivian Richards. He was so confident to prove to Richards that he (Richards) was wrong in mentioning doubts relating to his batting skill, that he prepared a sign before his innings which he pulled out of his pocket on completion of his century, to show to Sir Viv in the commentary box, daring him to say something now about his batting.
This proved that when riled, Ramdin could produce the goods. Yet, it is not the role of the professional cricketer to be goaded into producing, but rather to be self-motivating!
Nevertheless, in franchise cricket the part that the form of the cricketer plays is not as vital as the financial business concerns of the management committee of that team.
For instance, Ramdin’s value to the team would be assessed in balancing monetary value against the cricketing contribution that he makes. This is not like choosing the normal side to play a game; this is a very different principle.
A committee, representing the franchise owners, would have a chat with the player making him an offer that they feel is adequate risk for their goal of winning the tournament and making a profit.
New concept of professional cricket
The player would, likely, have an agent who would negotiate on his behalf, indicating just how the retention of their player would profit the group. Thus it goes until an agreement is reached.
I would guess that Ramdin was asked to accept a lesser fee than what he had been receiving for the past four years, two of which, be it remembered, TKR were the winners.
However, in light of this new request, the wicketkeeper/batsman’s agent would have started negotiating, using the attributes of Ramdin’s top-class keeping skills but not having much flexibility with his batting.
Maybe the keeper would have been given a ‘take it or leave it’ choice. Before his decision, he might have felt out the various franchises and how important his quality of cricket was to them, then he was picked up by the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, maybe for a sum that he wanted to receive from TKR at the outset.
The modern professional cricketer is now tuned in to the new wave of the business in cricket. For instance, it is instructive as to the behaviour of Ramdin when he was dropped from the Trinidad & Tobago team earlier this season. One would recall how immature was his behaviour.
Nevertheless, this time he was very quiet, wishing the franchise he was leaving future success plus thanking them for the opportunity and the time spent with them.
This is simply because his future professional fees depend on being accepted by any franchise worldwide and one can’t make enemies with groups who can be future employers.
In the case of Ramdin’s exclusion, although speculation is rife, there could be reasonable assumptions that might make sense. In franchise cricket like the CPL, the competition is based on the limited-overs game consisting of 20 overs per team.
A wicketkeeper therefore is not actually overloaded with work only having to concentrate for 20 overs behind the stumps. A side could get by with a competent stumper rather than a classy one but he must be a productive batsman.
I know there may be a time when one vital mistake by the keeper could cause disaster for the team but that hardly happens in the brevity of this format.
Hence the management of the team might be happiest to have an extra penetrative bowler or a defensive type which may suit the needs of the team more so than a top-class keeper. Or they would want to take their chances with a proven prolific batsman. Depending on the cost, of course!
This is the new concept of professional cricket. The professional, regardless of where he’s from, is competing with every other cricketer (except the Indians who are banned from playing elsewhere) to be selected on one of the franchise teams. And those specific teams only want the cricketer that would give them the best value for their investment, be it entertainment or sheer production!
Consequently, the cricketers all have agents representing them!