Sunday, March 3, 2024

My Barbados picks


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BY THE TIME you read this column, the Barbados teams for next week’s first-round Regional Super50 (February 7) and four-day encounters (February 9-12) against Jamaica at Kensington Oval may already be known.
Nonetheless, I’m still undertaking the task of looking at what I consider to be the best balanced and available squads to represent this country.
The criterion for selection will be merit. Hence, any player who has repeatedly outperformed another while competing for the same position will be rewarded as team selection should be done without fear or favour, friendship, club affiliation or residence.
It must also be noted that Barbados will be without pacers Kemar Roach, Tino Best and Jason Holder, who are on the West Indies’ tour of Australia, as well as Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Smith and Sulieman Benn, who are playing in the Bangladesh Premier League.
I will consider past performances in regional and local competitions, especially in the last year, along with the players’ returns from recent trial matches.
Bearing in mind that the two tournaments are being played simultaneously and as they are coming a few weeks after the Caribbean Twenty20, the workload would need to be shared in some cases, especially since there is provision for additional players who are regarded as one-day specialists.
So, here we go. Captain Kirk Edwards, Jonathan Carter, Ryan Hinds, Kyle Hope, Carlos Brathwaite, Javon Searles and Christopher Jordan should be automatic choices for both teams.
Kevin Stoute, Kraigg Brathwaite, who has noticeably improved his attacking strokeplay in limited-overs cricket, and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich are three others who can also play both versions.
But I believe that Dowrich, who averages a mere 7.14 in nine List A (50-over) matches, should be relieved of wicketkeeping duties in at least one format, rather than risking burning him out so early in his career.
Thus, I would seriously consider Shai Hope for the 50-over format, and if Dowrich cannot play all the first-class matches, Mario Rampersaud, probably the best of the trio, would come into the picture.
Left-handed opener Omar Phillips, who averaged just 19.93 in eight matches in his first outing for Barbados last year after captaining the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), has been going through a lean spell. His place is almost certain to go to either the talented 19-year-old left-hander Anthony Alleyne or Rashidi Boucher in the four-day side.
Alleyne scored half-centuries in both the three-day and 50-over trial matches while Boucher, who also had several cheap dismissals, boosted his chances of retention after scoring a maiden first-class 50 versus Jamaica in the final last year and a century in the first three-day trial.
The middle order places are taken unless the selectors want to say farewell to Hinds, who has served Barbados’ cricket excellently over the past decade but endured his worst season last year. He averaged 17.57 with the bat and took just five wickets in four four-day matches.
That leaves only the position of specialist spinner, vacated by Benn, left in my starting line-up.
That place will go to left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, who made an encouraging first-class debut last year.
However, in the 50-over side, another left-arm spinner Derick Bishop, who has been one of the most economical bowlers in limited overs cricket in the country for the past decade, will replace Benn. Bishop’s free-scoring right-handed batting will also be an asset.
Kenroy Williams, who captained the 50-over side in 2011 when this competition was last played, should retain his place following another local Super Cup season in which he was again the top all-rounder and had some noteworthy batting and bowling returns in the trials.
The steady off-spin and attacking lower-order batting of Ashley Nurse, who has previously only played T20 cricket, should earn him selection.
Smith’s unavailability will open the door for the youthful but hard-hitting Kyle Mayers, while I believe Stoute would be a good option at the top of the order alongside Edwards instead of the more orthodox Kraigg Brathwaite as his slippery medium pace bowling will also be an asset to the team.
I strongly believe he would be able to make a better contribution as an all-rounder than as solely a batsman.
Shamarh Brooks, who had a dismal 2012 first-class season with a highest score of 19 in nine innings and an average of 8.44 and overall has a solitary half-century in 21 first-class matches in which he averages 19.80, won’t be in my first-class side. However, with a batting average of 24.71 in the 50-over game, he could still squeeze into the squad for that format.
Even though the pace attack will lack firepower without the express pace of Best, Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards, Barbados will be blessed with three seamers in Searles, Carlos Brathwaite and Jordan, who are also useful lower-order batsmen and excellent fielders, a plus for any one-day side.
Here are my 14-member squads
Super50: Kirk Edwards (captain), Kevin Stoute, Kyle Hope, Jonathan Carter, Kenroy Williams, Ryan Hinds, Kyle Mayers, Shai Hope, Derick Bishop, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Christopher Jordan, Javon Searles, Shamarh Brooks.
Four-Day: Kirk Edwards (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Anthony Alleyne, Jonathan Carter, Kyle Hope, Ryan Hinds, Shane Dowrich, Carlos Brathwaite, Christopher Jordan, Javon Searles, Jomel Warrican, Kevin Stoute, Miguel Cummins, Rashidi Boucher.


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