“It was important for the Windies’ bowling to click as well and they did not let Dowrich and the lower-order’s contribution go waste. The West Indies bowlers were on the money and picked up wickets at regular intervals to give themselves a huge lead. They are now just 7 wickets away from winning this Test on the final day”
It was never going to be easy for a young player to replace a veteran wicketkeeper-batsman and a captain in the Test side. However, West Indies’ Shane Dowrich not only did that, but he has blended into Denesh Ramdin’s role behind the wickets and also with the bat in hand with utmost ease. Brought into the side primarily as a batsman, under the tutelage of Ramdin as a 23-year-old, Dowrich soon took over the gloves from Ramdin after the latter’s performances dipped. Ramdin then had to make way for Jason Holder to take over as the Test captain.
The fact that West Indies wanted to invest in youth was clear even before the ICC World Cup 2015, when Jason Holder was appointed captain by the Clive Lloyd-led selection panel. To do so, West Indies gave limited chances to veterans like Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and also Chris Gayle to a certain extent. They were willing to give these players a go in limited-overs, but, when it came to Test cricket, the Windies selectors were willing to take the gamble.
The arrival of Dowrich as wicketkeeper, Holder as captain, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Miguel Cummins and others were a testimony to the fact that West Indies wanted to invest in youth in the longest format in a hope that one day, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, there were a few upsetting defeats, but West Indies are surely becoming a competitive team and could very well turn out to be world beaters in a year or two.
However, coming back to Dowrich, there was never any question of his prowess with the bat – He broke into the Windies side after an impressive show for Barbados in the 2014-15 season where he smashed 615 runs at 51.25, which included two tons and 3 fifties. He has also inflicted 20 dismissals (15 catches, 5 stumpings), to push his case further. Not to forget, Dowrich also scored 223 runs at 27.87 ( 25 dismissals) and 358 runs at 39.77 ( 17 dismissals) in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively in the championship-winning efforts for Barbados.
Just like he did on his Test debut, Dowrich scored a valiant fifty on his wicketkeeping debut for the Windies. He got a couple of fifties in that series against India. He continued his good form against Pakistan in the UAE, but followed it up with below par series against Pakistan at home and England away. Big scores continued to elude Dowrich. But he turned things around in Zimbabwe when he scored his maiden Test century as West Indies went on to win the 2-match series 1-0 – their first series win under Holder. Dowrich then got a couple of starts in New Zealand, but failed to convert as West Indies suffered a crushing series defeat.
It was a collective failure and West Indies needed to bounce back the right way. In came Sri Lanka to the Caribbean. Sri Lanka too have not been in the best of forms of late. They are yet to fill the void that Mahela Jayawdene and Kumar Sangakkara left behind. Added to this their best player Angelo Mathews seems to be spending more time recovering from injuries than on the field. Sri Lanka are yet to find their best Test XI and the team they played at Port of Spain certainly is not.
This was the perfect opportunity for West Indies to capitalise. three out of the top five batsmen got starts. Dowrich too had a lucky escape early in his innings, but he did not lose focus. He put on 90 for the sixth wicket with his captain, followed by a 102-run stand with Bishoo and finally 75 with Roach, helping himself to yet another century in the process. An unbeaten 125 under difficult circumstances will surely give the youngster a boost and has lifted the morale of the entire team.
It was important for the Windies’ bowling to click as well and they did not let Dowrich and the lower-order’s contribution go waste. The West Indies bowlers were on the money and picked up wickets at regular intervals to give themselves a huge lead. They are now just 7 wickets away from winning this Test on the final day.
There isn’t much to read into Dowrich wicketkeeping abilities. He has had a quiet time behind the wickets, which is perhaps for the best. The fact that there is not much attention given to his skills as a glovesman, shows that he is doing fine. The 26-year-old has kept Ramdin out for a while now and if he keeps this up, we may see Dowrich stand tall for West Indies behind the wickets and with the bat for years to come. Some of his best cricket is still ahead of him.