In a rather surprising development, West Indian wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin has been chosen as Windies’ new captain in the five-day format. A leader of a team is someone who has usually proven his credentials in international cricket. Of course, there are exceptions like the case of Graeme Smith and Lee Germon, who were directly thrown to the deep sea without being tested. The case is slightly different with Ramdin. He has been a part of the West Indian team for nearly a decade now, but somehow hasn’t made a mark that a player of his talent would ideally have.
Ramdin’s record speaks for itself, and of his underperformance. In 56 Tests, he has managed only 2235 runs at an extremely poor average of 27 with four hundreds to his credit, with a highest of 166. A decade of so back, this might have been acceptable since wicket-keepers weren’t expected to score very heavily. If they did a good job behind the stumps, the team was satisfied. Times have changed drastically now. Almost every stumper around the world now averages in the region of 35-40. In that comparison, Ramdin falls way below.
It isn’t as if Ramdin hasn’t got enough chances to prove his skills. In fact, owing to West Indies’ weak batting line-up, he has often found himself in a situation where he has had plenty of time to play himself in. But, on most occasions he has floundered. That was until recently. Of his four hundreds, three have been scored in the last two years, two of them coming against strong opponents like England and New Zealand and one against Bangladesh. In fact, the hundred against Kiwis was scored in the last Test West Indies played against New Zealand at Hamilton, late last year.
The good run of form is perhaps what gave the selectors the confidence to hand over the unenviable job to him. He has also scored a couple of half-centuries to go with his tons, which gave the selectors further proof of his increasing consistency. Still, Ramdin has a massive challenge on hand to prove that he is the right man for the job. He hasn’t really inspired confidence in the selectors over the years. After an impressive half-century on debut, they were plenty of hopes from the newcomer, but he took another four years to register his first ton.
How well Ramdin performs as leader, and whether the additional responsibility will improve or decrement his performance, only time will tell. One thing is for sure though; he must consider himself extremely lucky to have landed the big job. The paucity of resources in the West Indies camp definitely helped his cause, and with his limited talent Darren Sammy was always going to be a stop-gap arrangement. The fact that he managed to keep Windies afloat all these years is credit to Sammy’s leadership. It is up Ramdin now to build on the few gains that Sammy achieved. For sure, miracles can’t be expected from Ramdin, but fans would be keen to see the resolve.
--By A Cricket Analyst