Hall clears the air


Thursday, March 19, 1998

``BEING a selector,'' says current chairman of the West Indies selection panel Wes Hall, ``is like drinking gramoxone.''

``You may survive for a while,'' he explains, ``but eventually you are not going to last.''

As the cricket teams of West Indies and England get ready for the sixth and final act of the Cable and Wireless Series, the panel has been coming under fire for the nature of the changes made to the regional team in the course of the series.

In the latest salvo, former West Indies opening batsman Bryan Davis described Hall, Joey Carew, Michael Findlay, Malcolm Marshall and captain Brian Lara as ``zigzag''.

But in a passionate defence of the work of his team, the chairman argues that their decisions have been informed both by policy and purpose.

``We have moved from the selections of teams based on race, ethnicity, class and insularity to meritocracy,'' Hall told the Express. ``The selection panel in keeping with its democratic ethos is determined to select teams on the basis of merit, the best possible ability, performance, discipline, attitude and commitment,'' he declared.

But, Hall admitted, results were of the essence in a series which comes immediately after the devastating 3-0 defeat in Pakistan.

``In the final analysis,'' he said, ``you are trying to win.''

The critics have said that the attempt to come up with a winning combination produced a Caribbean side that has not looked anything like the team of the future. Especially, they say, the bowling. Neither Franklyn Rose nor Mervyn Dillon, considered future spearheads of the attack, has been among them.

Why not?

Noting that only injury had forced Dillon out of the First Test, Hall explained: ``(After Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh), you're competing for two places.''

And stressing that the panel wanted to avoid having two inexperienced players as the back-up bowlers, he said ``We chose at times to go for one of the fastest bowlers (Nixon McClean).

And shedding light on the choice of Kenny Benjamin and Ian Bishop ahead of Rose, ``Instead of going for rookies,'' said the chairman, ``you go with someone who has tied up an end.''

Asked whether the omission of Rose, the leading wicket-taker in the series against India last year, was attributable to ``non-cricketing reasons'', Hall replied with a categorical no.

``No one has been disciplined this year. It was based on the fact that the selectors did not consider he was bowling well enough.''

Davis was also critical of the omission of legspinner Dinanath Ramnarine for the Barbados Test where Carl Hooper's offspin earned him five wickets.

For Barbados this season Winston Reid (left-arm orthodox) and Terry Rollock (leg-spin) have picked up wickets. Would Pakistan have left out Mushtaq Ahmed?

``If you think he is good enough to play in the final eleven, why single him out in Barbados. What signal are you sending to the young man?

Hall conceded that leaving out the spinner may have been a mistake. But he countered, ``One of the problems with the selectors who only go to the venue one day before the game starts is that we do not know how the wicket will play. It is a matter of guessing.''

The panel's choice of opening batsmen, however, has been not a matter of guesswork. They have gone for horses for courses.

Stuart Williams and Sherwin Campbell, who began the series as the incumbents, have been replaced for the last two Tests by Philo Wallace and the veteran Clayton Lambert.

``We were inconvenienced by the lack of large opening partnerships which forced Lara to go in very early. Also, Chanderpaul and Hooper,'' Hall declared, ``There was a domino effect, so we opted for the in-form batsmen.'

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 19 Mar1998 - 22:27