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WI youth policy working

1 December 2000


AFTER years of demonstrating his potential in regional competition, Marlon Black finally made his presence felt on the stage that mattered.

At the "Gabba" in Brisbane, the 25-year old paceman managed to claim the scalps of Michael Slater, Andy Bichel, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting to finish with figures of four for 83 on his test debut.

Just six months ago, 19-year old Ramnaresh Sarwan stepped up to the crease at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, for his first taste of test action against a Pakistani team featuring accomplished bowlers such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed. He left unbeaten on 84 runs. Sarwan has since gone on to top the West Indies batting averages at the end of last summer's five-match test series in England.

Back in 1994, another 19-year old Guyanese batsman also made an immediate impression in his maiden test innings: with a knock of 62 against England on his home ground of Bourda in Georgetown. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is now generally recognized as one of the world's most talented top-order batsmen.

Apart from sparkling entrances, these three men have a major thing in common: they were all given the chance to show what they can do at the highest level of their sporting discipline. For Sarwan and Chanderpaul, the opportunity was granted immediately after impressive youth careers: and soon after making their senior debuts for Guyana. In the case of Black, the wait took about four years but he has taken full advantage of his circumstances and is now, all of a sudden, a bright hope for the future.

These success stories are a testament to the value of putting faith in anyone who stands out at the domestic level - giving that person an opportunity to show, whether or not, he has what it takes to be successful at the top. This is particularly important to a West Indies team in transition. Gone are the days when there was tremendous depth in regional cricket and when players such as Faoud Bacchus, David Murray and Sylvester Clarke (and many others) were kept out by the brilliance of Viv Richards, Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall. Now, the West Indies selectors are forced to scour the thinned ranks of regional talent in order to find individuals capable of helping the West Indies return to the top. Of course, they have been able to make a couple of exceptional “finds”: apart from Sarwan and Black, the likes of Mervyn Dillon, Ricardo Powell and Wavell Hinds have shown marvellous potential. Unfortunately, there have also been some disappointments, such as fast bowlers Franklyn Rose and Reon King, who have displayed problems with discipline and technique respectively. But such cons will always come amidst the pros of engaging in the trial and error of testing out new players. One cannot expect every one to be an overnight success. Some players may take a couple of tests before really hitting the mark: others may simply not have the goods.

But, regardless of what happens, we all expect that anyone who shows promise at the lower levels of regional cricket (and even those who shine in the Busta Cup) will be given a fair chance by the West Indies selectors to show what they can do – particularly during this turbulent period when West Indies cricket is going to require all the help that it can get.