By Zaheer E. Clarke
Written July 8, 2016
Published on July 11, 2016
Republished on July 19, 2016 by the Jamaica Observer
West Indian wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin has been dropped from the West Indies Test team for the upcoming series against India. The timing is perfect and may well save Ramdin’s fluttering Test career.
Denesh Ramdin in a recent Twitter riposte, vintage of the Clint Eastwood movie, Magnum Force, declared it was a “rainy day” after he was told by recently appointed West Indian chairman of selectors, Courtney Browne, that he would not be selected for the upcoming series against India. Thereafter, Ramdin fired tweets as he listed his recent and career achievements and juxtaposed them to the chairman’s career.
Actually, he scored 59 and 62 in his last two innings, but we are not going to nitpick over him being one run short. Ramdin went on, taking supercilious swipes at Browne’s inferior batting average of 16 in Tests as a wicketkeeper-batsman and Browne’s lack of an international century. He seemingly boasted of his paltry batting average of 25 as a wicketkeeper-batsman and declared that Browne’s critical comment(s) about his batting is “shameless”, in light of Browne’s less than stellar career.
If that wasn’t enough, Ramdin further highlighted Browne’s infamous blunder – on debut in 1995 – when Browne dropped Australian legend Steve Waugh, who went on to score a double century in the deciding Test, which consequently handed West Indies their first series loss in 15 years. In an uppish and persnickety manner, Ramdin declared confidently that he has never dropped an opposing batsman who went on to score a double hundred against the West Indies. We’ll need to fact check this overproud claim.
Despite Ramdin’s mucky and shabby-genteel attempt against Browne – the man he replaced as wicketkeeper in the West Indies team in 2005 – the fact is that Ramdin is archaic in this thinking and, worst of all, shameless and intrepid in his mediocrity. Browne’s record as a wicketkeeper doesn’t disqualify him from offering constructive criticism when selecting the West Indies team. Neither is he in competition for Ramdin’s place anymore. Therefore, these comparisons by Ramdin are misplaced. We should, though, compare Ramdin with the wicketkeepers of his era to ascertain if, as it’s alleged, Ramdin’s batting is not good enough.
In a Test career spanning 11 years, Ramdin has played in 74 matches and has scored 2898 runs at an average of 25.87 over 126 innings with 4 centuries and 15 half-centuries. This would have been fair by most standards four to five decades ago when wicketkeeper-batsmen were more specialist keepers than actual batsmen. In today’s game, much more is asked and is expected from the wicketkeeper, especially with the bat, and from my a posteriori checks, Ramdin’s record with the bat is dreadful at best.
Since Ramdin’s debut in Test cricket, 49 cricketers have undertaken the role of wicketkeeper-batsmen in Test cricket. Several of these players have played sparsely for their teams, with 17 of them playing less than five Tests for their teams and another 18 having played between five and 19 Tests over that period. With these limited opportunities for assessment, that leaves us with 14 wicketkeeper-batsmen who have played 20 or more Test matches since Ramdin’s debut. Most cricket pundits would agree that a player’s batting record after 20 Test matches is a fairly safe barometer to judge the player’s quality with the bat, wicketkeeper-batsman or otherwise.
Ramdin has batted 126 innings (74 Test matches) as the designated wicketkeeper, the second-most behind MS Dhoni of India in the group of 14 wicketkeeper-batsmen, yet Ramdin has the second-worst average of the 14 at 25.87. That is, he ranks 13th out of the 14 wicketkeeper-batsmen who have played 20 plus Tests since Ramdin’s debut. Only Adnan Akmal of Pakistan over 21 Tests was worse at 24.62.
Table 1. Wicketkeeper-Batsmen With Highest Test Batting Averages since Ramdin’s Debut (Qualification: 20 Test Matches)
|1||AB de Villiers (SA)||22||35||1970||59.69||7/6|
|2||Sarfraz Ahmed (Pak)||21||37||1296||46.28||3/7|
|3||BJ Watling (NZ)||30||49||1700||40.47||4/10|
|4||Matt Prior (Eng)||79||123||4099||40.18||7/28|
|5||MS Dhoni (India)||90||144||4876||38.09||6/33|
|6||Kamran Akmal (Pak)||38||66||2138||35.63||5/11|
|7||Brendon McCullum (NZ)||37||62||2045||34.66||4/10|
|13||Denesh Ramdin (WI)||74||126||2898||25.87||4/15|
|14||Adnan Akmal (Pak)||21||29||591||24.62||0/3|
On another interesting note, in matches involving Ramdin, opposing wicketkeeper-batsmen are averaging 39.55 under similar conditions, while Ramdin is averaging 25.87. Quality wicketkeeper-batsmen of today’s game average in the mid-30s to 40s and even higher. What’s Ramdin’s excuse?
Table 2. Denesh Ramdin vs Opposing Wicketkeepers in the same Test Matches
Even if we look across the eras at wicketkeeper-batsmen who have scored 2000 plus runs in Test cricket, Ramdin – once again – has the second-worst batting average of 25.87 in the group. That is, he is ranked 26th out of the 27 wicketkeeper-batsmen who have scored 2000 plus runs in Test cricket history. On the account of these analytics, it is objectively limpid that Ramdin’s batting is not good enough.
Table 3. Wicketkeeper-Batsmen With Highest Test Career Batting Averages
(Qualification: 2000 Runs)
|1||AB de Villiers (SA)||24||39||2067||57.41||7/7|
|2||Andy Flower (Zim)||55||100||4404||53.70||12/23|
|3||Adam Gilchrist (Aus)||96||137||5570||47.60||17/26|
|4||Les Ames (Eng)||44||67||2387||43.40||8/7|
|5||Kumar Sangakkara (SL)||48||81||3117||40.48||7/11|
|6||Matt Prior (Eng)||79||123||4099||40.18||7/28|
|7||MS Dhoni (India)||90||144||4876||38.09||6/33|
|13||Jeffrey Dujon (WI)||79||111||3146||31.46||5/16|
|21||Ridley Jacobs (WI)||65||112||2577||28.31||3/14|
|26||Denesh Ramdin (WI)||74||126||2898||25.87||4/15|
|27||Godfrey Evans (Eng)||91||133||2439||20.49||2/8|
In a recent interview on Power 106 FM, Ramdin made somewhat humbling admissions.
“I haven’t felt any pressure for the last three or four years … I have to go back to my game in the regional four day-set up and come again … But I’ve been down that road before and come back and done very well, so I think the process is easy.”
To be fair, Ramdin had a purple patch during his career where he produced richly with the bat. However, that period, ironically, was premised by his omission from the West Indies setup for nearly two years. From 2005 to midway 2010, Ramdin played 42 Tests for the West Indies scoring 1482 runs at an average of 22.80 with 1 century and 8 half-centuries over 73 innings. After which, the selection committee dropped him for almost two years. Ramdin’s replacement, at the time, Carlton Baugh, did himself no favours from 2010-2012 when in 16 matches he scored 414 runs at a feeble average of 17.25 with 0 centuries and 2 fifties in 26 innings. The selection panel disgracefully hung their heads and recalled Ramdin, who grabbed the opportunity and averaged 44.29 in his next 14 matches with 3 centuries and 3 half-centuries. Since 2014 when he was appointed West Indies captain, Ramdin’s form has returned to his pre-2010 scrimpy vein when he was dropped. Over the last 18 matches, he’s averaging 22 – again – with 0 centuries and 4 half-centuries. It seems complacency has set in, especially since he had admitted to not feeling any pressure.
Table 4. Denesh Ramdin’s Test Career
The last time he was dropped, he returned with a bang. Maybe Ramdin and the selectors are thinking in a similar vein or maybe this is the end of his Test career. If the West Indies selectors are inclined at giving another wicketkeeper-batsman in the region an opportunity at international cricket at the Test level, then I have no objections. I, for one, will not be lamenting or decrying “rainy days” at him being dropped from the West Indies team, like what other past WI wicketkeepers are doing – Jeffrey Dujon, Deryck Murray, and Jackie Hendricks. Ramdin isn’t short on opportunities. What he is short on is quality competition for his place in the team and, in comparison to current international wicketkeepers, consistency with the bat.
“Yeah Ramdin, Talk Nah”.
Until next time…
© Zaheer Clarke
All data for this article was obtained from ESPN Cricinfo Statsguru Database on July 7, 2016.
Zaheer E. Clarke is a freelance sportswriter and former wicketkeeper-batsman who’s batting average in college may have been lower than Denesh Ramdin’s.