Cricket

West Indies Cricket: Ramnaresh Sarwan Opens Up On Tests In WI, Rise Of T20 Cricket, Fear Of Talent Exodus And Virat Kohli

Ramnaresh Sarwan, one of the most prolific batters to have played for the West Indies, is leading a comfortable life after retirement but when one talks him to him about the health of Test cricket in the region, he paints a grim picture, fearful of a talent exodus to the USA

Photo: Windies Cricket
Shamar Joseph was the architect of West Indies' sensational 8-run win against Australia in the 2nd Test at the Gabba, Brisbane in January 2024. Photo: Windies Cricket
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Ramnaresh Sarwan, one of the most prolific batters to have played for the West Indies, is leading a comfortable life after retirement but when one talks him to him about the health of Test cricket in the region, he paints a grim picture, fearful of a talent exodus to the USA. (More Cricket News)

The unexpected growth of T20 cricket and players' preference for the shortest format has put red-ball cricket on the backburner. First-class teams play as little as five games per season, which Sarwan thinks should be increased to at least 10.

Speaking to PTI, the 44-year-old also lamented the lack of cricket facilities in the region. He featured in 87 Tests and 181 ODIs aggregating more than 10,000 runs across formats and played alongside fellow Guyanese Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the great Brian Lara for the better part of his career.

"Yeah well Test cricket is at a very low point to be honest. Among the games that we are playing again in the Caribbean, I don't think it's sufficient to develop our players but I also think there is this major threat of T20 cricket where a lot of people are showing interest in the shortest format," he said.

"I think one of the biggest challenges we've had is facilities in the region. I think the cricket board has been working on it. So we'll see what happens," he added.

Sarwan has nothing against players making money from the plethora of franchise leagues but the lure is impacting the format he loves and took great pride playing.

With the way the game is going, Sarwan foresees a mass exodus of the Caribbean players to mainland America where the game has got a major push with hosting of the T20 World Cup and inclusion of the sport in the 2028 LA Olympics programme.

"I think having T20 format in the US which is so close to the Caribbean with so many players of course they would have the opportunity now to participate in the short format of the game in the US.

"So you might find a lot of people jumping ship in terms of coming to the US and start participating in T20 and of course try and see if they could find a way in terms of becoming legal in the US and then start hopefully pushing the play in the US," said Sarwan, who also spends a lot of time in the US.

The former West Indies captain has lot on his plate. He runs a couple of restaurants in Georgetown, one being an Italian-American joint and the other serves Thai and Indian fusion food.

Talking more about Tests, Sarwan, who was known for his sound technique and wrist work, said an immediate solution is not in sight.

"I don't think it's something that can be done only in the Caribbean. I think the ICC probably would have to intervene to put a limit in terms of how many T20 tournaments are being played around the world.

"Of course you want to have the best players available for all those leagues and of course you also want to be able to represent the countries. So I think it's a major challenge in terms of saying what is the ideal scenario. At some point in time, the ICC probably would have to intervene which I really don't see happening in the near future," said Sarwan.

Has the pride of playing for West Indies diminished in the era of T20 leagues?

"I don't want to say it's diminished. But probably because of the shorter format of the game, it has taken a lot of players' attention. So, they probably would have worked more in the shorter format rather than the longer format.

"We all know what Test cricket requires. We just don't call it Test cricket because of the term test cricket, right? It's been over five days and of course the test is usual in every aspect you could possibly think of.

"That is one of the reasons, like I said, the guys have probably lost their focus on the longer format," Sarwan reasoned.

But he did agree that it is not all doom and gloom in the cricket scene in the Caribbean.

Sarwan has high hopes from fellow Guyanese Shamar Joseph who made a memorable Test debut in Australia. Another West Indies cricketer he likes watching is Nicholas Pooran.

Admire Kohli for taking on the opposition verbally

Among other teams, Sarwan has always been a fan of South African Hashim Amla. When it comes to Indian cricket, he can't look beyond Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

"I like Rohit because of his confidence and he does everything with elegance. With Virat, apart from his batting ability, I admire his work ethics, determination, passion and the face that he is never shy to take on the opposition verbally," concluded Sarwan.

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