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SELECTORS GIVE ‘TIGER’ ANOTHER CHANCE AT CAPTAINCY

SELECTORS GIVE ‘TIGER’ ANOTHER CHANCE AT CAPTAINCY

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by TONY COZIER

SHIVNARINE CHANDERPAUL has been recommended by the West Indies selectors to be retained as captain and Ramnaresh Sarwan his deputy, for the forthcoming tour of New Zealand February 16 to March 29, convenor Joey Carew confirmed yesterday.

Carew was quick to end speculation initiated by a report on a Trinidad radio station, repeated on Voice of Barbados yesterday, that Daren Ganga, 27, the Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies ‘A’ team captain, was likely to replace Chanderpaul. {{more}}

But Ganga, who played the last of his 31 Tests against South Africa in Georgetown last April, has been recalled for the one Twenty20 match and five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well as the three Tests.

Carew said separate squads of 14 for the shorter matches and 15 for the Tests had been chosen. They went through the usual process of ratification by the WICB yesterday but were not officially announced up to last night.

Carew said his panel had acceded to star batsman Brian Lara’s plea last year that he wanted to reduce his ODI appearances in an effort to prolong his phenomenal Test career. Test cricket’s highest run-scorer will join the team for the first Test in Auckland March 9 to 13 following the ODI series.

Head coach Bennett King’s input at the selection meeting in Port-of-Spain on Monday was influential in the decision to retain Chanderpaul at the helm, Carew said.

“The coach gave a lengthy explanation of what went on, and what didn’t go on, during the tour of Australia late last year,” he explained. “His recommendation was that we continue with Chanderpaul as captain.”

He did not say whether there were other nominations. Jamaica captain Wavell Hinds’ modest Test record (average 33 in 45 Tests) appears to have ruled him out of contention for the leadership.

The left-handed opener has been chosen only in the ODI squad, to be replaced for the Tests by Devon Smith, the diminutive Grenadian, who had a disappointing series in Australia after an innings of 88 in the first Test.

Chanderpaul, 30-year-old veteran of 91 Tests and 178 ODIs, was appointed captain for the home series against South Africa and Pakistan last season following the withdrawal of Lara, the incumbent, over the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) ruling to debar six players from selection because of their personal endorsement contracts with Cable & Wireless, direct competitors of new team sponsors, Digicel.

Ths sixth man in the position since Viv Richards’ retirement in 1992, Chanderpaul has endured a similar failure rate to those before him while the West Indies slid from No.1 to No.8 in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.

Under him, the West Indies have a record of one Test win, nine losses and two draws and one win against 11 ODI defeats.

Chanderpaul led a team of inexperienced reserves to Sri Lanka for three Tests and a triangular ODI series also involving India last July and August, after the other leading players observed a West Indies Players Association (WIPA) boycott over a contract dispute.

He was retained for the tour of Australia last October and November following an end to the WIPA’s action that cleared the way for the selection of all the players.

In addition to Ganga, leg-spinner Rawl Lewis, the 31-year-old Windward Islands’ captain who last played for the West Indies on the tour of South Africa seven years ago, fast bowlers Jerome Taylor of Jamaica and Deighton Butler of the Windwards and batsman Runako Morton of the Leewards have been recalled.

Lewis, Taylor and Morton are in both Test and ODI squads. The left-handed Butler, who got his unexpected chance in the revamped team in Sri Lanka last year, is only chosen for the ODIs.

“Lewis has been playing so well that we’re thinking of giving him a bit of a run to see whether he could become a permanent fixture in the team,” Carew said.

“He has definitely matured. I think the captaincy (of the Windwards) has done a lot of good for him.”

Lewis was the Windwards’ leading wicket-taker in last season’s Carib Beer Series with 32 and he has 14 in two matches this season. He is preferred as the specialist spinner to left-arm chinaman-googly-type Dave Mohammed and off-spinner Omari Banks, both of whom have had brief stints in the Test team.

Taylor made his Test debut, aged 18, against Sri Lanka in 2003 but was soon sidelined by a back injury for over a year. He led the bowling averages for champions Jamaica on his return last season, with 26 wickets at 16.61 each, and clinched his place with his 5/85 against Barbados in the match that ended on Monday.

Batsman Marlon Samuels and fast bowlers Tino Best and Jermaine Lawson were dropped from the team on the Test tour of Australia last October and November.

An operation to remove a bone spur from his knee ruled out Corey Collymore, the leading West Indies bowler since he returned to the team for the Tests against Pakistan last season.

Carew said that the teams for the One-Day and four-day matches against England ‘A’ in the Caribbean next month would be chosen after two more rounds of the Carib Beer Cup.

Test team for New Zealand (with ODI replacement in brackets):

Shivnarine Chanderpaul – captain, Ramnaresh Sarwan – vice-captain, Chris Gayle, Devon Smith (Wavell Hinds), Daren Ganga, Brian Lara (excluded for ODIs), Runako Morton, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Denesh Ramdin, Rawl Lewis, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Daren Powell (Deighton Butler).

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