Making wrong things right

By Philip Hackett

20 March 1998

Positive results can sometimes camouflage reality and the fact that the West Indies has had stern competition from the English touring team in the Cable and Wireless Test Series has forced the home team to address problems which may otherwise have been swept under the rug.

The current theme now seems to be one which is directed towards putting wrong things right' and the trend has continued with the selection of the 13 man squad for the sixth and final match at the newly relaid Antigua Recreation Ground playing field. The recall of Clayton Lambert after serving a seven year cricketing sentence and Philo Wallace was only just the beginning. Now chairman Wes Hall and his band of selectors have corrected two other glaring errors by including Jamaican speedster Franklyn Rose and Grenadian wicket keeper Junior Murray at the expense of pacer Ian Bishop and glove man David Williams, both countrymen of captain Brian Lara. That it has taken this long for them to recognize that Bishop is no longer the bowler he used to be, and that Murray is the best batting keeper in the Caribbean is particularly disturbing, since these selectors hold the future of West Indies cricket in their hands. But as the old cliche goes, better late than never.'

The experiments behind the stumps since the discarding of Jeffrey Dujon, suggests strongly that there is no major difference in the glove work of the recent keepers. Courtney Browne, Williams, and Murray have all dropped crucial catches and have all had bad matches at some time. They have also, on occasions, displayed brilliance. Lack of consistency seems to be the problem, one which will hardly be solved by undermining their confidence with constant changes. In the absence of this consistency behind the stumps, performance in front of them, with the bat should be the deciding factor and Murray stands out in this regard. He almost singlehandedly put the West Indies batting back on track during the last tour of Australia and scored a big double century for the Windward Islands in the Red Stripe Cup tournament shortly after his return. For his pains he was dropped. Murray's batting record in his 28 Tests compares favorably with any of the current crop of international wicket keepers. His batting average is 25.69 and he has I century and three half centuries.

Adam Parore, who occasionally opens the batting for New Zealand has an average of 27.80 in 41 matches. He has one century and 10 half centuries out of his 71 innings. Recently retired South African keeper Dave Richardson scored just one century in 64 innings spanning 42 Test matches. He ended his Test career with an average of 24.26. England keeper Jack Russell had an average of 27.70, two centuries and six half centuries in 83 innings prior to the Bridgetown Test Match. Other keepers with similar records include Australia's Ian Healy, 29.04, India's Nayan Mongia, who also opens on occasions, 27.97 and former Indian keeper Kiran More 25.70. Murray also has a superior batting record to his two namesakes. In 19 Tests for the West Indies David Murray had a highest score of 84 and an average of 21.46. Deryck, who played 62 matches had a highest score of 91 and an average of 22.90. Jeffrey Dujon, a specialist batsman and wicket keeper scored five centuries and ended his career for the West Indies with an average of 31.94.

Hopefully the selectors will put an end to the recycling process and give Murray the type of run he needs to build his confidence. With the tour to South Africa just around the corner they will soon be called upon to select his deputy and the names of Courtney Browne and Ricky Hoyte would probably figure prominently in their deliberations.

The Franklyn Rose saga has even been more baffling. After taking 26 wickets in nine matches including an impressive six for 100 against India on a slow track in Jamaica, the selectors opted to experiment with Nixon McClean and retain an obviously out of form Bishop. Hopefully Rose's selection will dispel the rumors which suggests that he has been overlooked because he is not on good terms with the new skipper. On the positive side it is good to see that, having selected McClean, they have decided to give him a fair run, an opportunity never afforded to pacer Patterson Thompson.

The two are very similar in approach, fast but lacking direction and accuracy. It would be no surprise if McClean develops into a fine Test bowler. Were it nor for the mishandling of Thompson, West Indies could now be looking forward to developing two genuine quick bowlers. The theme though, is all about putting wrong things right, so it may be yet too early to completely write off Thompson.

Contributed by The Management (

Source: By Philip Hackett

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 22 Mar1998 - 15:27