Time for TT football to reboot
Time for TT football to reboot
Time for TT football to reboot
Trinidad & Tobago All Time Cricket XI
By Veersen Bhoolai
August 6, 2019
Selecting an all time eleven in any format is never easy especially if judging cricketers you have never seen but here goes. In choosing a team for the
four day format, most players basically picked themselves. The conundrum was how certain players pre bodyline bowling would have done in such an
era. Statistics have shown that for the greats that did manage totranscend both eras, in terms of the batsmen, their average did understandably dip
but they continued to perform.
The Four Day Team
Jeffrey Stollmyer (42.33) easily one of TT’s greatest batsmen who had the misfortune to have his prime years coincide with WW II. A stylish opening
bat and useful leg break/googly bowler, he top scored with 160 in Tests and averaged 44.61 with a top score of 324 in First Class Cricket.
Phil “the Thrill” Simmons, a hard hitting batsman, who literally defied death after being hit in the head during a FC encounter for the WI in Bristol
(1988), to go on to greater heights and emerge as an allrounder of note, easily the finest One Day player of his era. A modest Test average of 22.4 with
just one century and four half centuries does not reflect his impressive FC figures including over eleven thousand runs (35.64), 24 centuries and a top
score of 261. One of his crownining achievements was spearheading Leicestershire to the County Championship in 1996, with over a thousand runs
and 56 wickets.
Hilary Angelo “Larry” Gomes, good enough to keep his place on one of the most formidable teams ever. A competent all rounder who was never overly required to use his medium pace or off spin for the West Indies. A Wisden cricketer of theyear in 1985, his nine Test centuries with a top score of 143are indicative of his class.
Brian Charles Lara. Do you really need an explanation? Arguably the greatest batsman ever.
Darren Bravo, easily TT’s greatest batsman after Lara, if he can be allowed to continue with his Test
career without the odd politics or falling out, he may even break a few of the Prince’s records. Thus far, he has scored 16 half
centuries and eight centuries (40.00) in 49 Tests. The brother of Dwayne Bravo and cousin of Brian Lara, greatness seems to run
in the family. A young man who has patterned his style after Brian Lara and
amazingly, pulled it off, he is already an established great.
Until the emergence of Brian Lara, Charles Allan “Charlie” Davis was easily TT’s greatest batsman of the twentieth Century.
In just 15 Tests, four centuries, four half centuries (54.2) and a top score of 184 vs New Zealand, Davis seemed destined for
a long, glorious, career. However, a temporary loss of form and the advent of Alvin Kallicharan, Lawrence Rowe and Viv
Richards put paid to his international career. A solid batsman of true class, you could do worse than Charlie Davis at no. 6.
It’s not easy to precede Deryk Murray, however, Denesh Ramdin’s career has spoken for itself. A capable wicketkeeper/batsman,
his batting has evolved to the point where he can comfortably come in the middle order for TT; five Test centuries and a top score
of 166 vs England is indicative of his rise. Sadly, curious policies by the Selectors have robbed him of the Captaincy and his place
on the WI team. He has shruggedoff the disappointment by being a star for TT behind the stumps and with the bat, forcing his
way back intothe WI T20 side.
The inclusion of Ian Bishop and Anthony Hollis "Tony" Gray should surprise no one. Hands down two of TT’s greatest
expressbowlers. Ian Bishop was second to none until two crippling back injuries forced him to modify his action taking away from
his demon like pace. However, his Test stats of 161 wickets (24.27) indicate that he was consistently world class despite
Gray had the misfortune of being ignored by the WI Selectors for reasons other than cricket, his 22 wickets in five Test matches at an average of
17.13 is breathtaking by any standards.
Sonny Ramadhin is easily the WI’s greatest spinner after Lance Gibbs. The mystery man from South TT was selected for the WI after just two
FC games. He bamboozled the Englishmen to such a degree that they literally had to change the laws of cricket just to play him (padding).
Knowing that Simmons and Davis could augment the bowling with their medium pace, Stollmyer with his leg breaks and Gomes with either off
spin or medium pace, one just needed a quality spinner to partner Ramadhin. Considering theproliferation of class spinners to come out of TT,
you would think it wouldn’t be too hard. However, many TT spinners who bamboozled their regional counterparts never seemed quite able to
transcend the Test arena with the same potency, Ramadhin being the glaring exception. Inshan Ali, Raphick Jumadeen and Rajindra Dhanraj amongst
others did yeoman service for TT but never consistently had the same impact for the WI. Jack Noreiga took nine wickets in an innings vs Indian at
the Queen’s Park Oval (1971). But before and after that performance he was a modest performer.
Thus, based on quality and representation it was a toss up between Ranjy Nanan and Dinanath Ramnarine, eventually opting for Nanan. Ramnarine
played more Tests but this was probably due to him being fortunate enough not to have lived in the amazing pace era that Nanan had to put up with.
In his lone Test appearance vs Pakistan in Faisalabad, he captured four wickets at 22.75. After almost two decades of First Class cricket, he finished
with 366 wickets at 23.1. An incredibly economical bowler and useful batsman, he would be my number eleven.
Jeffery Stollmyer (Capt.)
Larry Gomes (Vice Capt.)
Denesh Ramdhin †
Deryk Murray †
Clifford Roach was TT’s first great Test batsman. The first WI to score a century and double century in Test cricket, he was
a hard hitting opener, averaging 30.57 in 16 Tests. What is incredible about Roach is that after scoring a pair vs England in
front of his home crowd in TT, he asked the Selectors to drop him. They refused, sent him to Guyana where he then
proceeded to score 209 at Bourda.
Augustine Lawrence "Gus" Logie was one of the few batsmen who managed to command a regular place on the WI team
after the departure of Alvin Kallicharan. A pocket dynamo of a player, who hit shots all around the wicket, he was a fan
favourite wherever he went. Inconsistency plagued him for the first four years of his career after his debut vs India at
Kingston, Jamaica in 1983. However, he seemed to temper his batting and from 1988 onward was more productive. His
best innings being a chanceless 101 vs India in Calcutta during the 1987/88 tour. He managed 2 470 runs (35.79) with two
centuries and 16 half centuries in 52 Tests. Even more impressive when you consider his entire club career was for a Third
Division team in Trinidad, Texaco-Brighton. He had made it clear during his career that nobody had an interest in him before
his fame and as he had started there, he would finish there.
Deryck Murray was good enough to play as a wicketkeeper for the WI in three different decades, a stubborn tail end batsman, his
class speaks for itself however, his batting at Test level did not compare with Ramdin’s.
Dinanath Ramnarine had actually won a regular place on the WI team as a leg spin googly bowler. However, after bouncing back from
injury and performing for TT, he seemed to be ignored for reasons other than cricket. He quit the FC game at 27 citing his frustration.
There are some who will argue that DJ Bravo should have been on the starting elven of this team and they would
have a point. A classy all rounder who like some of his team mates during the last decade, has seen limited games
for the WI due more to politics than cricket. He would be hard pressed to surpass Charlie Davis as the number six,
however, the politics of the WICB certainly had more to do with Bravo’s anticlimactic Test stats than any lack of
ability on his part.
Honourable mention, Gerry Gomez,' Learie Constantine; Prior Jones; Bryan Davis; Daren Ganga; Bernard Julien,
Ganesh Mahabir and Ravi Rampaul.
All Time One Day Team
Dinesh Ramdin †
The ODI team not surprisingly would not have the same eleven as in the longer format. Simmons and Gabriel were two hard hitting batsmen that
would have been millionaires in today’s IPL. Simmons was easily the best ODI all rounder of his era. His 4/3 vs Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground in
1992 remains to this day the most economic spell in One Day cricket.
Logie, Lara and the Bravo brothers need no explanation. That is a batting lineup that could manhandle any bowling attack in the world.
For many years both Badree and Narine were two of the most economical bowlers in the world, useful with the bat, they would be a boon to any side.
Ramdin has more than proven himself as a batsmam on many occasions has made the TT team on batting alone. His top score of 169 for the WI vs
Bangladesh and the fact that he is the first WI ‘keeper to hit a century in an ODI is indicative of what he can do with the bat.
Perhaps the surprise on the team would be Kelvin Williams but only to those who never saw him play. A hard hitting medium pacer who would make
both Kieron Pollard and DJ Bravo blush, he was referred to as “Mr. Fantastic” in the English Minor Counties League. Playing against the Windward
Islands for TT at Guaracara Park in 1984, he hit their Captain, Norbert Phillip, the WI and Essex all rounder, for four consecutive sixes to win the match
when TT seemed headed for defeat. Tony Cozier was quoted in the Wisden Almanac later that year, “It was the stuff of which legends are made.”
Had Williams’ prime been 20 years later, he would have been a guaranteed T20 superstar.
Bernard Denis Julien was considered by some to be the heir apparent to Gary Sobers. A bit much of an expectation but the brilliance was there
– an allrounder who batted right and bowled left arm medium pace/spin/Chinaman, he was a dashing batsman whose maiden century was a
boundary laden 121 vs England at Lord’s 1973 where he matched Sobers stroke for stroke. With two Test centuries and a World Cup final under his
belt he obviously had ability but a drop in form during a talent laden era forced him out of the team. He made a comeback in 1982 for TT taking
9/97 vs Jamaica but with no Test selection in sight, he joined a rebel team to South Africa, eliminating whatever First Class career he may have had left.
Subs: Kieron Pollard, Evin Lewis, Darren Ganga, Rangy Nanan, Nicholas Pooran †.
Any of these subs could walk on to this team. That is the beauty of having a talent laden side. Big Bravo, Julien and Williams could bat and
bowl with equal ability. Thus giving the side hard hitters with added depth. It’s almost unimaginable leaving Pollard and Lewis out of a WI
team far less a TT squad.
Daren Ganga may not have been a power hitter like the others but he was a class batsman who could anchor the innings and with a keen
cricketing mind could ably captain any side that he was on.
T-20 All Time Eleven
D. Ramdin †
This is truly an amazing side, balanced with hard hitting power and depth in bowling. Watching these players in any T20 encounter would be a mouth
watering spectacle. When you’ve got Gus Logie and Kieron Pollard coming at no 7 and 8 respectively, you know that is a dynamite batting lineup.
Subs: Richard Gabriel, Lendl Simmons, Bernard Julien, Rangy Nannan, Nicholas Pooran.
Lendl Simmons has proven himself to be one of the more gifted TT players of his era. A hard hitting right handed opener, who can bowl fast medium
and wicketkeep, he can consider himself unfortunate not to be on this list. Having made his First Class debut at just 17 and with almost two decades
of cricket under his belt one would have expected more from him at international level and at times it may have had more to do with the naivete of
the Selectors than any fault of his own.
I would like to conclude by stating that I believe that eventually Nicholas Pooran will eventually supersede Ramdin on all lists as a
batsman/wicketkeeper. Only twenty four years old at the time of this article, all he needs is time for his young career to blossom.
His talent and performances suggest that he can do more than play just the short form of the game. Barring injury, time will tell.
Ian Bishop (above).
Tony Gray (below).
Move over VS Naipaul, the next great book in Caribbean literature.