T20WC 2024: “Standard of first-class cricket has dropped in the Caribbean” says former WI captain Denesh Ramdin

Former West Indies captain, the wicketkeeper-batter Denesh Ramdin, feels the standards of first-class cricket must improve in the Caribbean islands to produce world-class Test players.

In a chat with Sportstar on a rainy afternoon in San Fernando, Trinidad, Ramdin looks back at his career, the dilemmas facing West Indies cricket and more.

Tell us a bit about your early days in Trinidad…

“I grew up in the small village of Preysal in Trinidad, which has a remarkable history of producing West Indies cricket players. Notable former players from our village include off-spinner Rangy Nanan and left-arm wrist-spinner Inshan Ali, representing the West Indies. This tradition of excellence has continued with players like me and Ravi Rampaul. wOur primary school, Preysal Government School, has played a significant role in nurturing and developing national players, contributing to the village’s impressive record of producing international cricket talent.”

Has the first-class structure improved in the Caribbean since your playing days?

“I wouldn’t say that; in fact, it has dropped significantly when you consider the number of games played compared to other countries. In our first-class system, we play around seven or eight red-ball games per season, whereas other countries play between 12 and 15. Throughout three seasons, this amounts to more than 40 games for them, while we only play about 20 odd. This discrepancy creates a significant gap in experience and development. Additionally, some of our pitches differ from elsewhere, often being slower. Although there have been efforts to change this, the limited number of games means that even if a player performs well and catches the selector’s eye, they may lack the necessary experience for higher levels of cricket. Back in the day, we also played around seven to eight red-ball games per season, so over five years, a player would have around 30 to 35 games under their belt. However, one had to be exceptional to advance to the next level.”

Ramdin, who played 74 Tests, 139 ODIs and 71 T20Is, feels negotiation and flexibility from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) are crucial to balance players’ participation in various leagues with international commitments.

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