Hinds’ omission baffling
Ryan Hinds is a very dejected man and understandably so.
The veteran Barbados all-rounder and former national captain did not hide his feelings after he was left out of the squad for the fifth round WICB Professional Cricket League (PCL) first-class match against Leeward Islands Hurricanes, which started today at Kensington Oval.
“I am very hurt and crest fallen. I would like you to tell me what’s the criterion,” Hinds said by way of a text to yours truly on Tuesday night during the airing of Mid Wicket on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, as he referred to his fine all-round performance in his only first-class match this season against Guyana at the Guyana National Stadium when Barbados pulled off an amazing two-run win in the third round.
Hinds made 75 runs including a crucial second innings topscore of 68 and took six wickets for 71 runs from 24 overs.
Guyana scored 261 in the first innings with left-arm spinner Hinds being the leading bowler, picking up four for 50 off 17 overs. Barbados were dismissed for 101 and following on, fell for 228.
Hinds would surely tell you that it was not just a matter of topscoring. Barbados were tottering on 76 for five when he was joined by wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich, who made 50, and the pair added 95 to at least keep the match alive.
And he can further argue that he batted the longest in the match (234 minutes) and faced the most balls (143) before he was last out.
Then chasing only 69 to win, Guyana crumbled for 66 in 29.1 overs. Hinds used the new ball in partnership with medium-pacer Dwayne Smith and took two for 21 off seven overs, Smith being the main wrecker with five for 17 off 10.1 overs.
On the eve of the following match against the Windward Islands in St Vincent, Hinds pulled out of the squad and returned home following the death of his grandmother who He also played in the recent Nagico Super50 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago and would have been anxiously looking forward to proving that he merits his place in the side with the resumption of the first-class tournament.
In 83 regional first-class matches for Barbados, Hinds has scored 5 484 runs including 12 centuries and 25 fifties, at an average of 43.18. And he has 184 wickets at 22.95 runs apiece with five “five-fors” and one ten-wicket haul.
All told, his first-class record shows 121 matches which have produced 6828 runs (ave: 38.14) with 12 centuries and 34 fifties, along with 233 wickets (ave: 26.94).
So as he approaches his 34th birthday on February 17, Hinds might just be wondering if his first-class career is virtually over.
Chairman of the Barbados selectors Hendy Wallace pointed out that he spoke with Hinds and explained the thinking of the panel in not picking him.
It would appear, however, that the selectors are intent on giving more opportunities to far younger players like Shai Hope and Roston Chase, who scored a maiden first-class century against the Windward Islands.
They have would determined that if Hinds is not in the starting XI, and more so at home, it would be wiser to exclude him from the 13-man squad. It was expected that Shamarh Brooks and Kevin Stoute, neither of whom has played a first-class match for the season, would be left out and so it turned out.
But Hinds must be perplexed by his omission based on his all-round performance against Guyana, and one could sympathise with him.
There are some fans who believe that having played the last of his 15 Tests in 2009 after making his debut seven years earlier, Hinds no longer has a future in international cricket and should not have even been given a contract in the new PCL set-up.
But is it fair for a player, who has served his country with distinction to be cast aside on such grounds?
Whether or not you agree with his actions in speaking out, Hinds has been known for expressing his feelings publicly.
He, however, should not give up. It is a long season now only at the halfway stage and apart from this round, Barbados will play a further three of their last five matches at home.
As it stands, the onus is on the younger players to produce and show that they merit their places.
While Hinds ponders on his omission, another veteran in fast bowler Tino Best will be very anxious to prove a point. It is his first match of the season and wary of his disappointing showing last season when he took only one wicket for 140 runs in three matches, Best knows that he is under the microscope.
So, too, is young pacer Miguel Cummins who in two matches this season, has picked up only one wicket for 113 runs.
The sooner he returns to taking wickets and on a regular basis, the better for Cummins. Last season, he took five wickets at 42.80 runs apiece –– a far cry from 2013 when he grabbed 35 scalps at just 14.77 runs each in eight matches and won the hearts of many.
And though he has taken nine wickets at 22.55 runs each, there is a feeling in some quarters that off-spinner Ashley Nurse still needs to beef up his bowling.
Now after the disappointment of not even reaching the semi-finals of the Nagico Super50, which they won last year, Barbados will be very keen to step up from third place and press for the retention the four-day title.
Rock-bottom Leeward Islands have become the whipping boys of regional cricket in recent years during which their record against Barbados is very dismal.
In fact, Barbados will be seeking a fifth consecutive win against the Leewards, having triumphed by six wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua in 2011; by an innings and seven runs at Kensington Oval in 2012; by an innings and 31 runs at Warner Park in St Kitts in 2013 and by an innings and 49 runs at Vivian Richards Stadium in 2014.
This is the first match at Kensington Oval for over five months after the outfield was severely affected by “goose” grass. The necessary work has been done to get it back in shape and based on the first two sessions today, the pitch was a bit slow but generally played true despite a few balls keeping low.
With Barbados’ next two matches also at home, a much better assessment of the surface can then be made.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com.