Ramnaresh Sarwan was identified as a prodigiously gifted talent over five years ago when he was 15. He was selected for West Indian Youth teams years ahead of his time and always coped superbly, despite his lack of physical presence.
Many West Indian people are desperately hoping that he will be the first in a new line of young players who will not be discarded after a couple of failures, as has always been the tendency in the past.
Poor old Marlon Samuels, for example. Like Sarwan, he is just 20-years-old and (unlike Sarwan) has a highest first class score of 61, yet he was considered promising enough to bat at number three in a Test series against South Africa. He failed, of course, and now he has been tossed aside. Brian Lara and Carl Hooper should hang their heads in shame.
Sarwan, as most of you will have seen or heard, has twice fallen to injudicious hook shots against Jacques Kallis, the first in Trinidad when the Test – and the series – hung in the balance on the final day. He was forgiven then, but when he repeated the shot in Antigua his head was wanted on a silver platter by many supporters.
Whether he survives for the fifth Test in Jamaica or not, Sarwan has fought greater daemons that being dropped from the West Indies team.
Before he left Guyana for the five-Test tour of England as a 19-year-old nearly a year ago, Sarwan had been deeply in love with the girlfriend he first went out with when they were barely into their teens. They had, by all accounts, been inseparable.
But Sarwan realised that his relationship caused worry and doubt amongst his peers and the hierarchy of West Indian cricket, and he was desperate not jeopardise his budding international career. So he told his girlfriend that the relationship was off – it had to be.
In a moment of remarkable poignancy, the girl accepted her boyfriend’s decision but asked – as a token of his past commitment – that he promised to come to her funeral one day. Sarwan promised.
Before the end of the England tour the girl, who was in perfect health, suddenly and unexpectedly died from an undetected virus. Sarwan left the tour and flew home to be at her funeral.
As he battled to come to terms with his raging emotions the young man returned to international cricket vowing to make a success of himself in honour of his lost lady. He dedicated his career to her. It is for that reason, amongst others, that Ramnaresh Sarwan will not be tossed aside easily. He is a brilliant player and he will be successful. Something tells me he will score runs in Jamaica – if he survives the pre-Test axe, that is.
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