BestXI: Building an all-time West Indies Championship – Leeward Islands

By April 25, 2020
From left: Viv Richards, Eldine Baptiste, Curtly Ambrose, Andy Roberts, and Kenny Benjamin From left: Viv Richards, Eldine Baptiste, Curtly Ambrose, Andy Roberts, and Kenny Benjamin

Here’s how it’s going to go.

With the Coronavirus killing sports, everybody has been in a nostalgic mood. We remember fondly, the greatest sporting moments in our rich Caribbean history and sometimes turn our eyes to the rest of the world for that instance when we felt unbridled jubilation or shock and awe at a performance.

Here at SportsMax it has been no different and after the early end to the West Indies Championship, we had vigorous debates about which region had, collectively, produced the best cricket team.

Out of that ‘conversation’, if you can indeed call it that, we wondered if you selected the best playing XI of all time from each regional team, who would win.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking to build a BestXI from each regional team. At the end of coming to a consensus about what those BestXIs would like, we will pit them against each other, just for laughs.

Let’s begin with the Leeward Islands, a region known for producing tremendous cricketers, who have made themselves an integral cog in the West Indies machinery. We figured that for each region, we would pick six batsmen, a wicketkeeper and four bowlers.

 

Leeward Islands BestXI

 

Stuart Williams (St Kitts & Nevis)

Stuart Williams was the heir apparent to Desmond Haynes in the West Indies setup but his cavalier way of batting proved his undoing at the highest level. But in first-class cricket, his strokeplay and appetite for runs made him dangerous. He would end his career with 26 first-class centuries and 36 half-centuries to his name from his 151 matches for the Leeward Islands.

 

Kieran Powell (St Kitts & Nevis)

Kieran Powell is a tall elegant left-hander, who now captains the Leeward Islands. He is graceful timer of the ball but you have to watch out for the power that underlines that grace. His 31 average is lower than his talent suggests but his seven centuries and 37 half-centuries mean you never know when he will come off and opposing bowlers will be in trouble.

Richie Richardson (Antigua)

Richie Richardson captained the West Indies as replacement for Viv Richardson, guiding a new set of stars. He did the same for the Leeward Islands, leading from the front just as Viv did before him. Richardson would play 234 first-class matches in which he scored 14,618 runs. Those runs included 37 centuries, 68 half-centuries at an average of 40.71.

Viv Richards (Antigua)

Sir Vivian Richards achievements on the international stage have been given their due and he is undoubtedly the best player to ever come from the Leeward Islands. The Antigua native captained the West Indies with the same confidence and swagger with which he led the Leeward Islands. During his first-class career, Sir Viv was a beast, scoring a mammoth 36 thousand plus runs inclusive of 114 centuries and 162 half-centuries. His average of 49.40 when you consider he played 507 first-class matches is nothing to scoff at either. Interestingly, he also took 223 first-class wickets.

Keith Arthurton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Keith Arthurton was a stylish left-hander whose flair made even the smallest total an attractive thing to watch him compile. His talent did not manifest itself at the Test level but as a first-class batsman he was devastating. Averaging 45.29, his 129 matches cost his opponents 7,926 runs, inclusive of 19 centuries and 47 half-centuries.

Runako Morton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Runako Morton died in a car crash at just 33 years old. By that time, his relationship with the West Indies side had spanned eight years even though he never did command a consistent place in the regional unit. Still, he was a mainstay for the Leeward Islands, playing 95 matches and accumulating 5,980 runs along the way. He scored 14 centuries and 37 half-centuries.

Ridley Jacobs (Antigua)

Ridley Jacobs was an unorthodox wicketkeeper but there weren’t many who were safer. He was also an obstinate batsman, who made sure every innings at whatever level he played, would be prolonged for that much longer. On the way to ensuring he does that, Ridley managed to score 7,518 runs in the 157 first-class matches he played. Included in those runs were 17 centuries and 40 half-centuries at an average of 38.75. Ridley was the man you wanted in your corner in a dogfight and according to his results, he usually won.

 

Andy Roberts (Antigua)

Andy Roberts needs no introduction to this list and, like Viv Richards is an automatic pic after his exploits with the West Indies put him in the category as one of the greatest fastbowlers of all time. Roberts, ended his first-class career after 228 matches, taking an incredible 889 wickets at an average of 21.01.

Eldine Baptiste (Antigua)

From a region of incredible fast bowlers, Eldine Baptiste is perhaps unlucky not to have played more Test cricket but he was a giant of first-class cricket in the region, taking 723 wickets in 245 matches at an average of 24.65. His best bowling figures of 8-76, while special, shows the consistency of effort from a man who has taken five wickets or more in an innings on 32 occasions. He has also taken 10 wickets in a match four times.

Kenny Benjamin (Antigua)

Antiguan-born Kenny Benjamin formed an important partnership with Winston Benjamin in the early 1990s for the West Indies. The two served as backups to Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose and helped to keep the legend of dangerous four-pronged pace attacks from the region alive until the West Indies were overtaken as kings of cricket in 1995 by Australia. Benjamin got his chance with the West Indies because he was impressive for the Leewards, even more so than his impressive namesake, Winston. In just 108 matches, Benjamin took 403 wickets at an average of 23.71, grabbing five-wicket hauls in an innings on 18 occasions. He also grabbed 10 in a game twice.

Curtly Ambrose (Antigua)

Curtly Ambrose is arguably the greatest first-class bowler the West Indies region has ever seen. His well-known accomplishments at the Test level aside, Ambrose was a giant. In just 239 first-class matches the Antiguan bagged 941 wickets, taking five-wicket hauls on 50 occasions and 10-wicket hauls in a match on eight.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

Related items

  • Fans unsure about keeping Marlon, panel cuts him from Ultimate XI final reckoning Fans unsure about keeping Marlon, panel cuts him from Ultimate XI final reckoning

    There was no place for Marlon Samuels in SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 batsmen 3-5 after a panel of experts dumped the allrounder from a shortlist of 14 on the SportsMax Zone earlier today.

    The panel consisting of David Brook, cricket commentator and reporter, Sachin Ramsuhbag, cricket commentator, and Chris Taylor, commentator and cricket umpire, felt Samuels, though a proven match winner, did not stack up with the consistency of some of the other batsmen in the list.

    The panel also felt that Samuels’ strike rate (117.93) over the course of 187 games was not high enough, when compared to others in the list.

    That list reads a veritable who’s who in the T20 game, with India’s Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers; West Indies’ Samuels; England’s Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, and Joe Root; Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik; Australia’s Glenn Maxwell; Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara; and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson all getting the nod.

    From that list, du Plessis, Samuels, Morgan, Duminy, Sangakkara, Maxwell, Williamson and Root have all been cut.

    That means Kohli, Pietersen, Babar, Shoaib, de Villiers and Dhoni are the men who will vie for three places, from the number-three to the number five positions in the batting line-up when another panel of experts makes a judgement on the SportsMax Zone tomorrow.

    While voting fans, Fanalysts, just pick a final XI, if they were to pick a group for a final discussion, it might look a little different from the one the panel picked.

    So far, the fans have favoured Kohli, de Villiers, Dhoni, Maxwell, Pietersen, and there is a toss-up between Samuels and Sangakkara for the sixth position.

    For the fans, neither Babar nor Shoaib factor in their all-time XI.

    Fans, called Fanalysts have a 30% weighted vote on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team, with the SportsMax Zone having another 30% of the vote. The panel of experts’ vote will count for 40% of the overall votes.

    Fanlysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

    SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

  • Bravo just wants to play – Former TKR skipper happy to be led by Pollard Bravo just wants to play – Former TKR skipper happy to be led by Pollard

    The injury to Dwayne Bravo that kept him out of the 2019 edition of the Hero Caribbean Premier League and saw Kieron Pollard replace him as captain of the Trinbago Knight Riders may have been fortuitous.

    Pollard had big shoes to fill, as Bravo had led the TKR to back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.

    The big West Indies captain, the most experienced T20 player in the history of the format, lost to eventual champions Barbados Tridents in the second qualifier for the competition’s final in 2019.

    Still, he has retained his position as skipper in the team and has the blessing of his predecessor.

    CEO of the TKR, Venky Mysore, revealed recently that Bravo, though very successful as captain of the team, had, for a long time, wanted to pass the baton, but he had delayed the action.

    "The champion DJ Bravo has been coming to me year after year and asking me to give someone else the captaincy because he wants to just concentrate on playing and enjoying the game,” said Mysore.

    Bravo, who recently came out of international retirement, has also played under Pollard for the West Indies and has lauded his approach to captaincy.

    “I always told him not until I am ready and that time has come and he is very happy to play under Pollard,” said Mysore.

    The TKR will open the CPL season against last year’s beaten finalists, the Guyana Amazon Warriors on August 18.

    “Pollard was kind enough to accept the position to lead the team at the tournament. He said if we wanted him to do it he will and we said that we will be delighted to have him as captain again,” said Mysore.

  • Anderson rejects retirement talk: I'm still hungry to play the game Anderson rejects retirement talk: I'm still hungry to play the game

    James Anderson was frustrated with his performance in England's series opener with Pakistan but has no plans to retire from Test cricket just yet. 

    England claimed an impressive three-wicket win at Old Trafford, chasing down a target of 277 after their bowlers had helped bring them back into the contest late on day three. 

    However, Anderson struggled at his home ground, at times cutting an exasperated figure as he returned match figures of 1-97. 

    The seamer admits he struggled for rhythm but, at 38, is focused on rediscovering his best form as he closes in on the milestone of 600 Test wickets. 

    Asked on a media conference call on Monday whether he was contemplating retirement amid speculation over his future, Anderson emphatically replied: "Absolutely not. 

    "It's been a frustrating week for me personally because I've not bowled very well, I've felt out of rhythm. 

    "Probably for the first time in 10 years I got a little bit emotional on the field, started getting frustrated and let that get to me a little bit. 

    "It reminded me of when I first started playing, when you get frustrated and a little bit angry then you start trying to bowl quicker and quicker, and that obviously doesn't help on the field. 

    "For me, once we get down to Southampton, it is a case of working really hard over the next couple of days, see if there are any technical issues that I can sort out and just try and work hard and hope that I get the nod for the next game, so I can try and show people that I've still got what it takes to play Test cricket." 

     

    While once again pointing out his determination to keep on playing, Anderson acknowledged his future could be taken out of his hands by the selectors. 

    England are back in action this week, with the second Test against Pakistan beginning on Thursday at the Rose Bowl, and have called up Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson to the squad. 

    "I want to keep playing for as long as I possibly can," Anderson said. "If I keep bowling the way I did this week, the opportunity to retire will be taken out of my hands. 

    "I'm still hungry to play the game, I think the frustration for me this week is that after just one bad game, whispers go around, and I don't think that is really fair. 

    "Something that I have done well throughout my career is deal with the pressure that comes with playing, whether that is pressure of expectation, pressure of the match situation - I feel I've dealt with that pretty well throughout my career. 

    "This week I probably didn't do that very well. That is something I need to look at and go away, personally look at that and whether I play in the next game or the game after that or if it is in the winter then whenever I play next, I'm ready to be able to cope with that." 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.