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WI Selectors Opt For Spinner

by Tony Cozier

25 Feb 1998

TAKING note of Guyana's lengthy drought, the West Indies selectors have reduced their pace staff by a third for the fourth Test against England, starting at Bourda on Friday, and included a specialist spinner in the 13 for the first time this season.

Kenny Benjamin, who played in the last two Tests at the Queen's Park Oval but was wicketless in the last three innings, has been dropped and neither Franklyn Rose nor Mervyn Dillon, the bright, young hopes from last season, can find a place in the squad that includes four, rather than six, fast bowlers.

Dinanath Ramnarine, the Trinidad and Tobago leg-spinner, gains preference over others of his type who would have come into deliberations at Monday night's selection meeting.

A batsman has been added, Roland Holder, scorer of the only hundred against the Englishmen so far (183 for the ďA' team prior to the first Test) coming in for Rose.

While Holder is a seasoned campaigner, Ramnarine's previous international experience is confined to a single One-Day International against Sri Lanka last season, the West Indies ďA' team to South Africa late last year and two series against England at Under-19 level.

Quick through the air and accurate, he is capable of long spells, such as his 52 overs (three for 138) against Jamaica in the President's Cup over the weekend. In South Africa, he bowled an average of 22 overs an innings.

But he spins the ball sufficiently, both ways, to be able to make use of the dusty surface expected over the last couple of days at Bourda and he should feel comfortable under Brian Lara who also captains him for Trinidad and Tobago.

England have already had a look at him during the two-day match against Trinidad and Tobago in which he took five for 72 from 30 overs.

``Things are very dry in Guyana at present and, when I had a look at it over the weekend, the northern end looked pretty bare,'' chairman of selectors Wes Hall said yesterday. ``We felt we needed a spin bowler in the conditions. We're not completely pace-crazy, you know.''

Holder's a choice no doubt prompted by the embarrassment of last year's Bourda Test against India when the West Indies, with only six chosen batsman, had to start the match with a substitute who fielded throughout the first day after Holder had his mouth badly cut at pre-match fielding practice.

While the continuing exclusion of Rose and Dillon might be explained by a surface unlikely to encourage them or, possibly, by a decline in form, it is a setback to the development of two promising fast bowlers who will be needed when Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh call it a day in the not too distant future.

The recall of Ian Bishop suggests an improvement in his control since the start of the season.

Lara, his Trinidad and Tobago skipper, and co-selector Mike Findlay, who was there, would have vouched for his readiness after watching him bowl 32 overs against Jamaica on the featherbed of Chedwin Park last weekend.

The 13: Brian Lara (captain), Carl Hooper (vice-captain), Jimmy Adams, Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop, Sherwin Campbell, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Roland Holder, Nixon McLean, Dinanath Ramnarine, Courtney Walsh, David Williams, Stuart Williams.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 22:42