Where's The Outrage Over Sarwan?

Date Published: 
Sham Samaroo

At the press conference in Florida I asked Coach Gibson about the return of Chris Gayle to the national team. Gibson, sheepishly, responded: “We were having a problem at the top of the order and as you can see Gayle has shown us what he can do.

If truth be told, the top of the order is only one of several glaring problems in the team. The most embarrassing, of course, continues to be that of Darren Sammy playing captain.

Gayle’s return will certainly stop some of the hemorrhaging, but the patient remains in critical condition as the top order fails to consistently put runs on the board. In the last 9 Tests (17 innings) the Number Three position has contributed a paltry 460 runs at an average of 28; and in 17 ODIs, 318 runs at an average of 20. In other words, in the last 34 innings, the Number Three position has aggregated 778 runs at an average of 24 without a single hundred.

All this while one of the region’s most talented and experienced Number Three batsmen, Ramnaresh Sarwan, continues to be ignored by the selectors. In 87 tests Sarwan has scored 5,842 runs at an average of 40 with 15 hundreds and 31 fifties; and in 173 ODIs, 5,644 runs at an average of 43 with 4 hundreds and 38 fifties. Fourteen of his fifteen Test hundreds came at that Number Three position – five against England and four against South Africa.

In what appears to be a devious attempt to permanently slam the door shut on Sarwan, the selectors have toyed with seven batsmen in that position – Edwards, Smith, Samuels, Bravo, Fudadin, Powell, Charles. Why even the “great” leader, Darren Sammy, was promoted up the order too. The young ones, Edwards, Bravo, Fudadin, Powell, Charles are being sacrificed while the selectors desperately hope, on a wing and prayer, that one of them will come good. But that is easier said than done. India’s Rahul Dravid, in his Bradman oration, spoke of the challenges of that Number Three spot, putting it this way:

It is a tough, tough job. We're the ones who make life easier for the kings of batting, the middle order that follows us. (It is) in fact, the benchmark for batsmanship itself.

Ordinarily, as the most senior batsman, Chanderpaul would be the one to move up the order. But Chanderpaul’s defensive style of batting is not suited to that position. It would create too much pressure on his younger teammates and ultimately defeat the purpose for which it was intended. Besides, given his sterling performances lower down the order, why should he?

So while the WICB plays musical chairs with the Number Three slot, Sarwan continues to put up the numbers for Leicestershire. Last Saturday he celebrated Leicestershire’s offer to extend his contract until 2014 with another match winning hundred. Chief executive Mike Siddall said: "We are delighted - 'Ronnie' has created a tremendous impression”. He's a fantastic player and his influence on our younger players has been excellent."

But here in the West Indies, the young players – Edwards, Bravo, Fudadin, Powell, Charles are being sacrificed while the focus remains on freezing out Sarwan. Saddling these young men with such huge responsibility this early in their careers is not only a grave injustice; it also denies them the benefit of a Ramnaresh Sarwan in the middle.

My question, therefore, is quite simple – where is our outrage; our righteous indignation at this travesty?

When did we, West Indians, become such a docile, submissive people? I remember as a schoolboy the passion it provoked while reading of the courageous acts of Bustamante, Butler, Louverture; and witnessing first hand those of Jagan and Rodney. Have we now chosen the tranquility of servitude? If so, then let us get down and crawl on our knees and lick the hands of injustice that lord it over us. And one day, may posterity forget that we were West Indians.

*Sham Samaroo was in Florida to cover the T20 series for AP