Keith Semple: Digicel Cricketer No. 31
KEITH Semple was a stylish right-handed top-order batsman and slow-medium bowler who played competitively at the first-class level between 1990 and 2001 during which time he also contested seven One Day International matches for the West Indies.
His talent was first spotted at the famous Demerara Cricket Club and his early exploits propelled him into the national youth team to contest the regional tournaments in the late 1980s. He never dominated at that level although he produced a few exceptional performances with the bat but his undoubted talent was obvious. He was a wristy player and a sweet timer of the ball who relied on deft placement instead of power to garner his runs.
In 1990 he made his first-class debut in the regional Red Stripe competition and remained a permanent fixture in the Guyana team for several years as a new generation of local cricketers took up the mantle of keeping the country’s cricketing flag flying. However, even at this level, Semple was guilty of not converting good starts into sizeable scores and was often dismissed for twenties and thirties when seemingly well-set.
In fact in a career involving 56 first-class matches he aggregated 2311 runs at just 27.51 per innings which from all angles was not a true reflection of his abundant talent and skill. In all he compiled 17 fifties and only two centuries - one of which was a masterful 142 (his highest first-class score) - against Jamaica at Sabina Park in 1994. His efforts influenced the selectors to include him in a few West Indies A team games. While under Carl Hooper he was increasingly used as a bowler for Guyana in the regional limited overs contests.
When the West Indies made their initial visit to South Africa in 1998-99, Semple was chosen for the five-match One Day series following the 5-nil whitewash that was inflicted on the regional side in the Test rubber. With the team’s confidence at an all-time low, the One Day series was lost 6-1 with the all-rounder doing nothing significant to further enhance his claims.
He batted six times in the seven matches and mustered a paltry 64 runs at the abysmal average of 10.66. His highest score was 23 in the final game in Centurion when the series was already lost 5-1. His military medium bowling earned him three wickets at 40.33 runs apiece and his economy rate of 5.50 was deemed to be too high.
As the selectors embarked on a period of rehabilitation following the South African debacle, Semple did not feature in their plans and he played for a couple more years before he bowed out of the first-class arena. He, nevertheless, continued to play in the Lancashire and Northern Premier leagues for an extended period and turned out for his local club on several occasions.
Semple is currently overseas-based.