The Wisden Trophy is on its way back to the Caribbean and here are my ratings for the players who secured that series win against England.
Chris Gayle – 9 /10
The significance of West Indies’ achievement cannot be under-estimated. England might be a team in decline, but beating them shows how far the Windies have come – since beating India in early 2002, they had won only four series out of 22 (two against Bangladesh and one apiece versus Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka). Their recent steady improvement has been largely due to Gayle’s impressive leadership and his occasionally negative captaincy in the series can be excused. He also hit two fine example-setting tons.
Ramnaresh Sarwan – 9
The numbers tell their own story: 626 runs from six innings with three centuries and a fifty. The draws at Antigua and Barbados were based upon Sarwan’s batting, which has made him look like a different player from the one that struggled in New Zealand before Christmas. A key man in his team’s renaissance.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 8
In a series that featured 17 centuries, it is surprising only one came from Chanderpaul’s bat. However, his ton at Port of Spain was as crucial as any of the others and he was otherwise consistent and as hard to dismiss as we expected.
Jerome Taylor – 8
In a series that bat dominated ball, his spell of 5 – 11 at Sabina Park defined the series. He was as pedestrian and unthreatening in the rest of the series as he was devastating and unplayable at Jamaica, but the damage had been done. He showed more glimpses of his batting talent.
Fidel Edwards – 7
Nine wickets at 54.88 do not reflect Edwards’ contribution. He was the only quick man to remain quick on the featherbed pitches and showed all the qualities needed to be leader of the attack in the future. His increased maturity was also reflected in his stubborn batting at Antigua.
Brendan Nash – 7
Chanderpaul’s natural successor as middle-order limpet. One senses the value he places on his wicket has rubbed off on his team-mates and there must be a temptation to bat him higher in the order. He also emerged as an unlikely frontline bowler, but one wicket in 46 overs reveals the threat he posed to England’s batsmen.
Sulieman Benn – 7
A star of the Jamaica victory, he faded thereafter and was sacrificed in the push for a draw in the final Test. He possesses good variation and did enough to suggest West Indies’ troublesome spin-bowling spot has been filled.
Denesh Ramdin – 7
Filled his boots at Barbados and was calm under pressure in the tense finish at Trinidad. Needs to find more consistency in his batting, but his glovework was generally tidy in often difficult conditions.
Ryan Hinds – 5
Struggled against spin and a top score of 27 in five innings suggests he will again be dropped. His slow left arm bowling was purely functional and not as useful as Gayle’s offspin.
Devon Smith – 4
Another player who has been in and out West Indies’ team, he will surely join Hinds on the sidelines. Lacks the temperament to play long innings and his ugly swipe at Graeme Swann in the final afternoon of the series might be his last shot in Test cricket.
Daren Powell – 4
Most of those marks are earned through his brave batting, as his bowling was ineffective. He took six wickets in the whole series and was not trusted with the ball at all in England’s second innings at Trinidad. Another man who might miss the flight to England.
Xavier Marshall, Lendl Simmons and Lionel Baker played one match each. Simmons and Baker did enough to earn other chances and should be in the starting line-up at Lord’s in early May.
Written by Philip Oliver, an online sports writer who blogs about cricket gambling.