West Indian “Whodats”

Amidst struggles for consistency and success, the rotation of West Indies players in recent times has been rather impressive. In and out, or in for too long, it has never been dull as far as studies of international faces go.

Some of these bids have paid off, such as Ramnaresh Sarwan, who now averages over 40 in Test cricket, despite entering with a First Class average in the low 30s. Dwayne Smith scored an unbeaten century on debut – his first in First Class cricket, and Fidel Edwards claimed his maiden 5-wicket haul in his second First Class match, which happened to be his Test debut.

It is of present interest, however, to look at the far more common end of the spectrum, with the challenge of selecting a West Indies XI of “blunderous” or entirely bizarre selections over recent years.

Part One: The Top Order
Three’s Company

Opener #1
Suruj Ragoonath
2 Tests; 4 Innings
Average: 4.33
HS: 9

Selected at the age of 27 for his first Test cap, against Australia in 1999, Ragoonath did not inspire the confidence of many. With a First Class average hovering around the 30 mark, and just 261 runs in his 9 innings in the domestic competition of that year, the Trinbagonian could not have been expecting much before he got the call.

Indeed, it was a 97-ball 53 in a tour match that saw him selected to the senior side. In that innings he attacked Glenn McGrath with his trademark “take no prisoners” attitude, impressing the selectors sufficiently to suggest he even approached world-class. With such undoubted confidence and nothing to lose, Ragoonath had his day.

Just 4 innings later his day came to an end. Suruj Ragoonath scored 11 runs in his 2 innings on debut, edging his first ball in Test cricket past gully for four. He was dismissed by a senseless runout in his first knock, then laboured for a 27-ball score of 2, before playing across the line to Gillespie in the second.

Things didn’t get much better in the final Test of Ragoonath’s career, as he played across the line to Gillespie once more, and was again granted an LBW dismissal. On this occasion the decision was dubious, but McGrath evened out the account somewhat, by granting a joyful curtain call – the winning runs for the West Indies, as Ragoonath ended his Test career with 2 not out.

Opener #2
Leon Garrick
1 Test; 2 innings
Average: 13.50
HS: 27

Perhaps unfortunate to have played just one Test, Leon Garrick has not played a First Class match since 2003, despite being just 29 years old. Selected with a moderate First Class record in the low 30s, Garrick pounded 801 runs at an average of 50.06 in the domestic season of 2000-01. That season he registered his highest FC score – 200 not out – and shared a record unbroken 425-run opening stand with Chris Gayle, against the youths of the West Indies ‘B’ team.

As such, his selection was deserved, but still only allowed for a brief moment in the sun. Garrick announced his arrival against South Africa by cutting the first ball of the match, from Allan Donald, comfortably into the hands of the gully fieldsman.

His second attempt was more fruitful, but ended with dismissal to the same bowler for a start of 27. Garrick was replaced by Wavell Hinds for the next match, and though he featured in three One Day Internationals down the line, a second Test cap was never forthcoming.

One Drop
Lincoln Roberts
1 Test; 1 Innings
Average: 0.00
HS: 0

Having been dropped by Trinidad and Tobago in recent seasons for inconsistency, Lincoln Roberts’ talent was never in question. He always possessed the ability to score big runs, as evidenced by his 151 among 322 runs (40.25 average) scored in the domestic season of his Test call-up.

Even then Roberts boasted a First Class average in the mid20s, and adds symmetry to this list, having debuted in the final Test of Suruj Ragoonath’s career. Always a threat to score runs and score them quickly, Roberts never got the opportunity to do so at the highest level.

In his only Test match he played his only Test innings, against Australia, and gloved a McGrath delivery to first slip for a duck. A 10-wicket win denied Roberts the chance at a second go in Test cricket, and he never approached the Test team since, remaining a “Whodat?” player in the history books of West Indies cricket.

Early inroads… three down…

That should satisfy the sadistically intrigued minds of the reading public for the moment. Whilst you ponder over the misfortunes of above three, handle the bait of further intrigue with the prospect of part two of the series: tackling the middle order.

If, by chance you are one of the three mentioned above, many apologies for the cruel reminder.

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