West Indies Tour Preview by Rodney Hinds
A BRIGHT new era beckons for the West Indies now that Brian Lara has turned his back on international.
The finest batsman of his generation leaves a legacy of runs and memorable innings and also a side in need of consistency and success.
Guyana-born Ramnaresh Sarwan has been charged with leading the former calypso kings on their tour of England.
He has taken on a monumental task, one which his predecessor failed miserably at – that of resurrecting the West Indies team and leading them to triumph in the international arena.
Let’s hope that for the sake of his own career that his batting does not take a turn for the worse because of the burden of the captaincy. He will have to find inner strength to focus on keeping his career on track while trying to please his worst enemy, The West Indies Cricket Board.
It would be great if he could start his tenure with a series win over a struggling England side and that he could move from strength to strength help the Windies regain some pride. But it’s a tall task with many hurdles to overcome.
Apart from a new captain, the West Indies also have a new coach. David Moore has taken over the reins from Bennett King after the shambles which was the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
Moore, who played one first-class match for New South Wales, hoped that the England tour would afford his team the chance to make a fresh start, under a new captain.
Understandably Moore is upbeat on his new team’s chances of success in England.
"We've got a brand new captain, the head coach has resigned so from our point of view as team management it's a fresh start, it's a good opportunity to move the team forward and we will be looking to all the players to perform at their best levels and looking for each player to move forward on and off the field, in training and in representing the West Indian people in public."
The Windies will play four Tests, three ODIS and two Twenty20 matches during their sojourn to England and while a new captain and management team creates cause for optimism, it will be the ‘old guard’ fused with the vibrancy of youth which will be expected to concoct results for the tourists.
Among the senior men is hard-hitting opener Chris Gayle. He will want to forget the World Cup effort – if that is the right word – quickly. In short Gayle, along with countless team mates, failed to turn up to the one-day game’s biggest one-day extravaganza.
Much was expected of the Jamaican and by his own standards he failed to deliver.
But his knowledge of English conditions, and obvious ability, makes Gayle a match-winner in any company.
Add his under-rated bowling and West Indies supporters will be hoping that the real Chris Gayle turns up for what will be a difficult tour against an England side who in the Test arena know how to get positive results.
The new captain will also be relying on the calm influence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul over the next couple of months. While Gayle blasts his runs, Chanderpaul accumulates stealthily.
West Indies middle-order batting would appear to be suspect with the likes of Runako Morton, Sylvester Joseph and Darren Sammy jostling for positions.
England’s pace attack will not be encountering sleepless nights at the prospect of facing the aforementioned trio, increasing the pressure on the experienced batters.
In the bowling department the Windies also suffer from not possessing an established world class bowler.
Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell had decent World Cup efforts but all too often they prove erratic as do Fidel Edwards and Corey Collymore.
How will Sarwan achieve what Lara couldn’t? In fact, what is his mandate?
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have placed him on probation, but it seems clear that not even the WICB know what is to expected over the coming months.
Should the West Indies fail to get their tour of England off to a good start, the pain endured at the recent CWC looks set to continue.
By Rodney Hinds, Sport & Features Editor, The Voice
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