Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Riley has my full backing


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Insularity has always been part of West Indies cricket and it makes you wonder how at any era in our history we were able to be champions because of it.
Some will argue the times we ruled the world we had teams with players of exceptional talent in all departments.
By extension, not many of the selection decisions could be questioned. Some very gifted players couldn’t make the team and it was understood why.
Even so,there were other instances when the selectors’ judgement was brought into question and with good cause because some players not given the nod possessed the statistical credentials to stake a claim for a place in the side.
Even with West Indies cricket not now blessed with an excess of riches as it did in the 60s,70s and 80s,meritocracy still has to be the yardstick by which players are selected for duty.
When there seems to be any diversion from this standard, those with legitimate claims have every right to ask a question.There should be answers to satisfy natural justice.
Conde Riley’s memo to the secretary of the West Indies Cricket Board was not meant for public viewing but it is besides the point how it was leaked and why.
Its statistical content questioning the exclusion of Barbadians Ryan Hinds and Tino Best from the West Indies ‘A’  team in the present series against Pakistan is very revealing.
Based on the unquestionable evidence provided on the players’ performances in the past two seasons, there seems to be no cricketing justification for their exclusion. In fact, if they didn’t qualify for the senior team they should be considered for the ‘A’ team.
That neither has been selected for either side, an explanation from the appropiate quarters would be in order.
Quite frankly, a strong case should be made for all-rounder Kevin Stoute, who, as a late replacement, did extremely well on the ‘A’ team’s recent tour of England.The last and assertive statement he made was 8-52. It was such a graphic statistical display that it should have been before the eyes of the selectors when they chose their squad.
The point has to be made that borderline cases may and can be overlooked but when it is as clear cut as the three cited above, there has to be a concern especially when others selected have not had outstanding performances in regional cricket.
What is Assad Fudadin’s right to a play in the side?
I strongly believe insularity is only applicable when there is no hard evidence to justify a player’s inclusion in any side. Riley’s leaked memo was a solid defence of two of his excluded countrymen.
A valid question that must emerge in these circumstances is who will defend the rights of parties who it seems have been unfaired?
The players’ representatives, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), should take the lead but when someone like Riley, who as a WICB director, has been a very staunch defender of their policies in the best and worst of times, the cases he raised had to be overbearing and tugged at his emotions.
If he needs media support, I am in his corner with this one.
Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and can be reached at andithornhill@yahoo.com


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