As the debate continues over the omission of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the West Indies World Cup squad in Australia and New Zealand, the Express today publishes a letter to the Editor which makes a case for on cricketing grounds, the two players should have been included in the squad.
Please allow me to comment on the omission of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the West Indies squad for the World Cup beginning in Australia and New Zealand later this month. Chief selector Clive Lloyd should be ashamed of himself to claim that he has the best interests of the region at heart and pick a side to represent us in this showpiece event that excludes both Bravo and Pollard. The quality of both these players in this format is beyond dispute and I contend that Bravo has claims to being considered the most complete allrounder in West Indies cricket since Gary Sobers and Bernard Julien. So where is the fairness in WI cricket?
Much has been made recently on social and in conventional media of Pollard’s and Bravo’s last 15 or 16 innings. That commentary, in my view, is quite misleading and I feel compelled to respond with some statistics that paint a more accurate picture of the reality.
Those who seek to justify the omission of the pair have generally omitted, conveniently or perhaps intentionally, both their bowling averages and the fact that both are undoubtedly among the better fieldsmen in world cricket today. But current figures show that Pollard is the only West Indian batsman who has scored three centuries in the One-Day game batting at number six. He is also a destructive match winner who has scored over 2000 runs and a highly proficient medium pace bowler with 44 wickets to his name. Incidentally, as a far as I am aware, he is the only player who has made four centuries in the regional four-day game but has never been called up for Test duty.
And there are players called up to play in Tests for the West Indies without ever having made a century in the four-day regional tournament.
Bravo has played 164 matches, capturing 199 wickets at an average of 29.51. Among present-day players, he is the leading wicket-taker for the WI in ODIs and on the all-time list lies third behind the now retired Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, the two most successful fast bowlers in Tests matches and ODIs in the history of West Indies cricket.
Walsh has played 205 ODIs, 41 more than Bravo and has taken 227 wickets, a mere 28 more than Bravo, at an average of 30.47. The records show that Ambrose played 176 ODIs, 12 more than Bravo, and took 225 wickets, only 26 more than Bravo, at an average of 24.12. Dares Mr Lloyd tell us that Bravo’s bowling figures are not on par with or, in some respects, better than Walsh’s and Ambrose’s?
In addition, Carlos Braithwaite, who was on the team for South Africa and has been retained for the World Cup, played four matches in South Africa. In his four innings, he averaged 6.75, scoring a grand total of 27 runs. Selected mainly for his bowling, he got exactly no wickets. Another fast bowler, Sheldon Cottrell, played two matches and got two wickets at an average of 53 runs per wicket. We shall spare him—and us all—the embarrassment of mentioning his batting.
The now prematurely retired Bravo boasts ten fifties and two centuries in his 164 matches, amassing 2,968 runs at an average of 25.36. I dare Mr Lloyd to tell us that new skipper Jason Holder, former skipper Darren Sammy, the Smiths, Dwayne and Devon, Leon Johnson, Jonathan Carter, Andre Fletcher, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Walsh, Ambrose, Brathwaite or Cottrell have done or will do better than that with the bat.
Unreasonably dropped from the Test team in 2010 at the age of 27, Bravo has played 40 Tests, scoring ,200 runs with three centuries and 13 fifties to his name (ave. 31.42.) He has also got 86 wickets. Compare Australia’s Shane Watson who has played 56 games, 16 more than Bravo, amassing 3646 runs, with four centuries and 74 wickets (ave. 35.74.) Watson is still representing his country, one of the best teams in the world currently, while Bravo cannot earn a place on the team which is at its weakest level in history and is now rated eighth of the ten Test-playing nations.
Is it the players we need to dispose of or other persons who are destroying our game? Recall Chris Gayle’s disgust at the performance of the WICB and its selectors in South Africa? Remember when Tony Cozier boycotted an entire Test match over the exclusion of the now forgotten and then eminently forgettable Anderson Cummings from the West Indies side?
If Tony could boycott, who is we ? Or do we really believe that the WI can field its best ODI or T-20 team without Bravo and Pollard?