West Indies captain Darren Sammy is backing Ramnaresh Sarwan to do well on the imminent tour to Australia.
Sarwan, despite a poor showing in the just concluded Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament, has found favour with the West Indies selectors after being out of international cricket for about 19 months. During the domestic tournament the Guyanese right-hander made 72 runs in seven innings.
But Sammy told a media get-together at Accra Beach Hotel today prior to flying out to Australia that he and the selectors had full confidence in Sarwan. He noted that losing Marlon Samuels from the tour due to injury necessitated a senior player being added to the West Indies middle-order.
“Sars is a world-class player, a quality player,” Sammy stressed, adding Sarwan had previously performed against the likes of Glen McGrath and Brett Lee. The West Indies skipper said the batsmen in the team had not performed as management would have liked during the One-Day series in Bangladesh which the regional side lost, and from a batting point of view “we need his experience”. He said the selectors had motivated Sarwan to do well for the team and he was confident in his ability to deliver.
Several people, including former West Indies fast bowler and cricket commentator Ian Bishop, have questioned Sarwan’s selection to Australia taking into consideration his poor form, lengthy period out of international cricket and track record in Australia. In fourteen previous games in Australia across Test and One-Day formats Sarwan averages 25.76 with a highest score of 87. His overall record against the Aussies is 36 matches with 1 389 runs at an average of 29.55 and a highest score of 128.
Sammy had words of encouragement for fast bowlers Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite. Of Holder, whose pace and aggression have improved noticeably over the past year under the wing of bowling legend Curtley Ambrose, Sammy said the progress of Holder was a credit to the Sagicor High Performance Centre at the University of the West Indies.
He said Brathwaite too had been impressive during the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament and owed much of that progress to the input of the HPC. He said while Brathwaite was in Bangladesh with the HPC team he had worked on a “few things” with West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and had benefited from it.
“It is always good when young players show progress and that is a good sign for us a cricketing nation where guys like Brathwaite and Holder and even Christopher Barnwell show improvements. He [Holder] is going to Australia and hopefully he carries that improvement and when his turn comes to make his debut, he will be all ready and fired up to go,” Sammy said.
On the challenge of Australia, Sammy said ‘Down Under’ was a place West Indian cricketers loved to tour and the two teams had a great history. He added that judging from last year’s series between the two teams in the Caribbean, the West Indies believed they had what it took to win series against higher ranked teams. †
“We are going there with confidence that we can win the series. But cricket is played in the middle and we have to play well to come out on top against them,” Sammy said.
He said unlike previous tours when they had a camp in Barbados, the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament had precluded that. But, he added, the team was well prepared and match ready as a result of the tournament, even if they were now going to play a longer version of limited overs cricket. (WG)†††