I listened with great interest to the comments made by Roger Harper, chairman of selectors of the West Indies cricket team, about Nicholas Pooran playing Test cricket for the regional team.
What Harper was saying, in a nutshell, is that Pooran has to prove himself at the four-day regional level before he is given a ‘look-in’ onto the Test team. That sounds reasonable to the average mind, but I believe Harper and his fellow selectors are not being enterprising and risk-taking.
Here is a young, gifted player in Nicholas Pooran, with a special touch. Such players as Pooran are not seen every day on a cricket field and should be given every opportunity to excel at the longest format of the game. Harper and company must know when they are looking at a jewel, and that precious commodity is in the form of Nicholas Pooran from the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago.
Legends Michael Holding and Sir Vivian Richards have endorsed Pooran to play at the highest level of the game, but both are aware it will not be an easy journey for the youngster. With proper guidance and patience, Pooran should pull through because the natural ability is there.
Pooran is exhilarating, exciting and at times breathtaking. He must not be classified only as a T20 player but the selectors must bite the bullet and go against the norm to get this left-handed dynamo into the Test arena. At present, the West Indies has some good young players in Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Sharmarh Brooks and Shai Hope. I believe Pooran should be added to this list. With some adjustment to his approach at the Test level, I believe Pooran has all the qualities to be successful at the longest format of the game.
If you are not convinced, let’s take a look at the career of Australian cricketer David Warner. Cricket Australia took a chance with Warner and, today, they have not regretted its decision. Warner became the first Australian cricketer in 132 years who went straight into Test cricket without first-class experience. Today, the left-handed Australian opening batsman is one of the hottest, most sought after and highest-paid cricketers in the world.
If you are still not convinced, the career of former South African cricket captain and opening batsman Graeme Smith is one I must point you to. Smith made his Test debut at the age of 21 and, one year later, he was given the highest position in the Proteas national senior cricket team. Smith was named captain and he did not disappoint. The now-retired, left-handed batsman was ranked among the best cricket captains in the world during his playing days.
My last exemplar is none other than our very own West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The little Guyanese player made his Test debut at the tender age of 19, under the now-legendary Clive Lloyd. Chanderpaul must give thanks to the then chairman of selectors, former all-rounder David Holford of Barbados, who had the vision and courage to take a chance on ‘Chanders’. This gamble gave the West Indian a brilliant career which lasted 21 years and over 11,000 test runs.
Pooran may or may not succeed, but he is ready for the opportunity. Harper and company must be bold enough to make the call.