As a senior West Indian cricketer himself, Denesh Ramdin believes the absence of the other seniors – like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell – and regular opener Evin Lewis has contributed immensely to the mismatch between India and West Indies in the T20I series so far. The hosts have already wrapped up the three-match series, having taken a 2-0 lead in Lucknow.
But Ramdin, speaking in Chennai on the eve of the final T20I, remained resolute in the belief that players cannot be forced to play for country over franchise, especially since the reasoning behind these players’ choices is to earn more money. Nevertheless, Ramdin felt that with the availability of the seniors, West Indies would have put up a much better show in India.
“It’s all about putting food on your table,” Ramdin said. “The players are good enough to be taken by a team in another part of the world, then I can’t stop a player who’s out there to improve.
“But yes, it’s difficult to build a team given the current scenario when you look at our World T20 players. They’re in demand all over the world, so yes, we’re suffering in that aspect. Our senior players did not turn up for the tour, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re 2-0 down in this series.”
West Indies returned to India for the first time since their 2016 World T20 triumph, remembered for Carlos Brathwaite’s magnificent six-hitting off Ben Stokes to plunder 19 off the final over. With the first T20I having taken place at Eden Gardens last week – the very venue where they lifted the World T20 trophy in 2016 – Ramdin had expected his side to do better. But that didn’t happen and, following two heavy ODI defeats in the previous week, India’s bowling attack was too strong, according to Ramdin.
“We’re disappointed. We’re the T20 champs, and we played our first game at Eden Gardens, where we were expecting to do well,” Ramdin said. “But we didn’t adapt as well as we should. We didn’t string any partnerships either. T20 banks on momentum and partnerships, and we couldn’t do that. A lot of T20 cricket is about momentum and we haven’t been able to build on it.”
Summing up West Indies’ tour of India thus far, Ramdin said that Kuldeep Yadav’s left-arm wristspin – which has fetched him 24 wickets across formats – was the major difference between the two sides.
“I think Kuldeep Yadav played a major part in the Test, ODIs and T20s,” Ramdin said. “Guys haven’t been able to pick him, and basically he was the trick in the middle overs and unfortunately we couldn’t push on.”
With the imminent exit of current coach Stuart Law – who moves to Hampshire after West Indies’ tour of Bangladesh – there’s a thought that whatever West Indies have gained under Law could be dissolved once a new coach comes in. With the World Cup scheduled to begin in May next year, West Indies might not have much time to acclimatise with the new coach’s plans. But Ramdin felt that irrespective of the coach, it’s the basics that West Indies need to focus on.
“We’re professional players, so we need to understand our game and then buy into the new coach’s plans,” Ramdin said. “Fifty-over cricket is simple in the sense that you need to get starts, build partnerships, score centuries, take wickets upfront and then in the middle overs.
“That’s where India have blown us away – by taking wickets in the middle. Hopefully, in six months’ time when the World Cup is around the corner, we can deliver something special with the senior guys coming in.”
Not everything has gone downhill, though, for West Indies on this tour. Bright spots include the success of youngsters like Shimron Hetmyer, Oshane Thomas and Kharry Pierre. Some of them have been products of the Caribbean Premier League, and Ramdin believed that, just like the IPL in India, West Indies cricket would only get stronger with robust competition in the CPL.
“I’d like to use the Indian Premier League as an example,” he said. “Indian cricket is so strong in all formats because of the IPL, since young players come through the system.
“So in five years, hopefully our cricket can take off to that next level, because we have some exciting T20 and 50-over cricketers. They’ve played just one CPL tournament, and have already been picked up by Bangladesh [Premier League], UAE T10 and so on. The future looks positive.”