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UK tour in jeopardy

By Bryan Davis, Former West Indies Test cricketer

The West Indies (WI) cricket tour to England this year is in jeopardy. More’s the pity because the Caribbean cricketers need it for their future success and its administration for the improvement of their financial stability, without which the death knell of Caribbean international cricket could be sounded.

The reasons for this is obvious. The WI has been under a new administration for just over a year after suffering for at least five years at the hands of incompetence caused by inflated egos. There was little thought given to the actual game of cricket and how it functions, and even more importantly, why!

So, having retrogressed for half a decade, WI need all the cricket they can get under the new dispensation to make some progress on the cricket field and in their bank balance.

However, because of the spread of the notorious coronavirus with all its complications, any plans of progress have to be delayed and, worst of all, no-one can say for how long!

Nevertheless, as the saying goes ‘the show must go on’, in whatever form or fashion it takes! Thus, Cricket West Indies in their wisdom continues their planning as though nothing has happened and if stalled, they would retreat. Yet, if all goes well, then they would be in a position of readiness, to challenge any obstacles that they may encounter.

That is the reason why their selectors got the go ahead to plan for the upcoming tour of England. These honourable gentlemen, comprising Roger Harper of Guyana, the lead selector, his assistant Miles Bascombe of St Vincent, and the coach Phil Simmons of Trinidad & Tobago, met and planned their approach.

The tour was pushed back to July from the beginning of June and the WI asked to have at least four practice games plus a week in the nets to prepare.

The practice games, of course, would be of the two-day and one-day persuasions.  The England and Wales Cricket Board agreed and suggested that they be accommodated bio-structurally, meaning, they would play and practise on fields that possess a hotel on their grounds. All this to protect from the contagious enemy-virus.


Blatant omission

There are two grounds that enjoy these facilities in England, Southampton, and Old Trafford. WI then, would play their games and practise at these two grounds.  Another proviso would be no spectators at the games because physical distancing would be too tough to control. The offer was agreed upon.

All these plans were based on permission to be granted from the government of Great Britain for the tour to take place. Again, the WI selectors could not wait for the green light and had to proceed so that they would be ready to move on at a moment’s notice, as soon as and if, approval was established.

They decided on 30 players and would finalise 20 to go on the tour. The reason for that larger than normal number would be to utilise members of the squad as extra bowlers at practice. Usually, while on tour with 15 players, a touring team, no matter who or where they are, always use local club bowlers to bowl to them in the nets. That is not possible under the circumstances.

The only absence in this squad that is blatant to me is Nicholas Pooran. Sometimes, non-selections like this, do shock me, for I know that these selectors have all seen Pooran bat and to advantage, when making runs and topping the averages for WI in the 50-over and T20 versions of the game! I  certainly don’t want to believe that they are compartmentalising him as a limited-overs batsman only and are blind to his tremendous batting ability.

Anyone who has the eye for a talented batsman would be able to spot the great gift of this young man whom, I have no doubt, is better than most on the selected squad and has more natural ability than all.

I have full confidence in Harper and his men, but I know the eye for skill and talent, especially when it’s natural, is not always easy to spot. Then, the other thought that crossed my mind, which is even a worse fault, is to consider him as a wicketkeeper/batsman and not as a batsman only.

I make bold to say that Pooran has to be given opportunities as a batsman to bloom, simply because his batsmanship is too good to be ignored and he would be a West Indian powerhouse as a batsman in the future, but he would need to be given every chance.

For the sake of our cricket I hope the tour comes off but because of the potential danger it poses, I hope it doesn’t!