Roston Lamar Chase – the name immediately became household in the West Indies after he proved that he belonged to the Caribbean cricket. As a 24-year-old Chase was given his maiden Test call when he was slated for the home series in 2016. In the whole of 2015, West Indies had won only one Test, the Bridgetown one against England. After Chase managed only 31 runs in total in the first Test, there were many who suggested Chase be dropped ahead of the second Test. Little did they know, the youngster would be re-scripting a couple of records in the cricketing history.
In the second Test, he picked up his maiden five-wicket haul followed by a gritty unbeaten 137 to stave off a powerful Indian bowling attack. Chase became only the fourth West Indian, after Denis Atkinson, Collie Smith and Sir Garfield Sobers, to take a five-for and score a hundred in the same Test. The testimony of how good he was in his second Test was given with the return of Sir Viv Richards’ smile, that had faded away with his country’s Test loss after another. “Chase’s innings pleased me no end. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen West Indian batsman-ship like this. Especially, with the situation the West Indies were in, for a young man in just his second Test match, Jesus!,” Richards said after the match.
For the matter of fact, Chase’s roots that came from cricket-dominating places indicated that he belonged to the sport. Chase did his schooling from Barbados’ Combermere High School, that has produced more Test cricketers than any other alike institution in the Caribbean. Empire, the club that Chase played his cricket at, has gifted the likes of Sir Everton Weekes and Charlie Griffith. There is a massive example of the person who was the combination of these two, way before Chase – Sir Frank Worrell – West Indies’ first black captain under whose leadership, West Indies played 15 Tests, won nine, lost three, drew two and one Tets was tied. Among the captains who led in 15 or more Tests, Worrell’s win percentage was one of the best.
Maybe, it was way too early to draw any sort of comparison between Chase and Worrell but since they were associated with the same school and cricket club, all of a sudden the expectations of the Caribbean from Chase just doubled. West Indies’ managed to avoid a whitewash defeat at home to the Indian team and since Chase had a huge role to play in that, he was made to sit on the plane to the UAE to play Pakistan in Tests.
While Chase averaged almost 40 in his maiden Test series, he could not replicate the same performance in the Middle East. From three-Test he played against Pakistan in the UAE, he only scored 135 runs at a poor average of 22.5 and a score of 50 was highest in the entire tour. The visitors lost the series 2-1.
It was West Indies’ turn to host Pakistan for a full-fledged series and by the end of it, Chase would have had a huge moment in his new career. After the hosts lost the first Test, Chase’s century in Bridgetown set the game for them and the bowlers finished the job eventually. Pakistan, who needed just 188 runs to win were bundled out for 81 runs in the fourth innings. In the final Test, while Chase stuck around and recorded a third century, he ran out of partners on the other end. Although West Indies faced a 2-1 loss in the series, Chase ended the series as the top-scorer with 403 runs that was inclusive of two hundreds and two fifties.
While Chase boosted an average of over 100 in the three Tests, no other batsman even scored more than 300 runs in the series. And since that came against a quality Pakistani attack, the knocks held a good deal of significance.
There was no doubt about Chase’ selection for the England tour. The last time West Indies won a Test on the English soil was 17 years ago and the fine form of Chase gave hope of finally breaking the jinx. However, the 25-year-old Chase was exposed in England. Although West Indies did win a Test, but Chase was not a major force behind the victory. At the end of the England tour, Chase had a mere 80 runs from three Tests at a pathetic average of 13.33.
Let along top-ranked sides, even in Zimbabwe, where West Indies headed next, Chase managed only one half-century in three innings.
For a No. 5 or 6 batsman, registering 1001 runs from 21 Tests is sure commendable but the fact that majority fo those came at home is not. While he averages 65. 88 at home, his second best is in Zimbabwe a little over 50 and he only averages 13.33 in England and 22.50 in UAE. In the ongoing away tour in New Zealand, the all-rounder has scores of 5, 8 and 12 – 35 runs in three innings at an average of 11.66. In the Wellington Test, the West Indians suffered a collapse twice in the Test and when they needed their middle-order strength, which included Chase as well, to step up, he failed to do so.
The understanding of job of a No. 5 or 6 batsman is no rocket science. When everyone fails, he must graft and when the top-order fires, the No. 6 or 5 batsmen is expected to take on the tired attack at a strike-rate of more than one hundred, at least. However, Chase who has still not learnt to judge his attacking instincts at the right time has been hurting him and the team. Even in the second Test in Hamiton, Chase threw away his wicket with a needless try for a second consecutive boundary. A smart batsman always goes for a single or just defends following a boundary.
After Chase smashed Colin de Granhomme for a stunning boundary in the previous ball, he tried to repeat it. In an attempt of a punchy drive, he only got his stumps wrecked and left West Indies alone in crisis.
With two days in hand, Kane Williamson has declared New Zealand’s innings and has set West Indies a target of 444 runs. At stumps of the third day, the visitors had already lost two wickets. If either of Kraig Braithwaite or Shahi Hope is dismissed tomorrow, West Indies will be in a grave trouble and the next man in will be Chase. The man has scored a ton in the fourth innings earlier this year, which went in vain as they had lost the match. Chase has a ready platform in front of him to prove that he is not one of those whose ability is restricted just at home.