Originally published 8 months
ago, Guyanese and West Indian Batting Star Ramnaresh Sarwan is now
ranked #1 in the world in One day batting. With permission, we reprint
Albert Baldeo's tribute to the rising star published 6/9/04.
Sarwan's Soaring Star
by ALBERT BALDEO
Attorney at Law/City Council Candidate
Many questions were asked when Lara declared the West Indian innings
in the last test with Sarwan unbeaten on 261. Should Lara have even
asked Sarwan what he wanted? Sarwan showed his class by putting
team above self, a much needed lesson in the team.
After all, everyone willed Lara to go on to beat Sir Gary's 365*,
and backed him to the end to reclaim it from Hayden with his scintillating
400*. Previous to this, Waugh actually directed Hayden to break
the then world record of 375, as a matter of national pride. It
again raises the question of Lara's generosity or selfishness, according
to many cricket commentators.
Why did Carl Hooper said that he would never play again under Lara's
captaincy? As it turned out, a full day's play was still available,
and, as Virender Sehwag was told by Sachin Tendulkar, "the
chance of a lifetime to make a test triple," went abegging
for the selfless Sarwan. Conversely, many cricket pundits claim
that Lara's personal insistence on beating Hayden's 380 may have
cost West Indies a much needed win against England recently when
time ran out! "Lara has double standards," many fans have
Previous to his epic 261*, which is the highest Test score by a
Guyanese batsman, Sarwan played two innings of the highest quality.
The first was his test century (105), which was a pivotal contribution
to West Indies historic victory against Australia. This victory
was seminal, because it represented the highest successful fourth
innings chase in test history.
That effort was superseded only by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose
stellar performances of batting with a broken finger to record one
of the most heroic centuries in cricket history -- coming after
scoring the third fastest test century in the first test -- will
remain indelible achievements in the hearts of those who followed
the series. The second was a majestic 82 in 110 balls in the last
test against Sri Lanka, an innings in which he executed strokes
typical of a supreme purveyor and relentless executioner, a la Viv
The artistry of his legendary predecessor and countryman Rohan
Kanhai seemed reincarnated. The innings was a carbon copy of Kanhai's
captivating 77 in 103 balls against England in 1963. J.S. Barker,
in his book, "Summer Spectacular," put it succintly, when
he wrote, "He (Kanhai), pulled, hooked, drove and cut with
a brilliance of timing, audacity and stroke-play which had the commentators
hoarsely struggling to find new epithets." Sarwan's 79 spontaneously
triggered the same frantic search for suitable epithets, and warmed
the hearts of West Indians. My memory went back to Kanhai, who said,
in his book, appropriately entitled "Blasting for Runs,"
that he was "never one for second best," and that when
he was on top, he "never let up."
Just prior to the commencement of the Australian tour of the West
Indies, Michael Holding, one of the all time greats of cricket and
a commentator whose criticisms can be as lethal as his dreaded bouncers
and blistering yorkers, pronounced that Ramnaresh Sarwan was then
West Indies' best batsman. In a team which then comprised of the
double world record holder Brian Lara, the "Tiger," Shivnarine
Chanderpaul and "Sir" Carl Hooper, it was a startling
but justified assertion from a respected statesman and scribe of
the game and West Indian cricket.
After all, Holding had earned his recognition by performing without
peer at the highest level of the game. Moreover, Holding's pronouncement
was obviously based on close observation, undoubted experience and
statistical scrutiny, which would make Sarwan the functional equivalent
in the game of what Holding was called-the "Rolls Royce"
of West Indian batsmen, if he continues to maintain the form he
has been in, and produce the heroics. Of course, with the resurgence
of Brian Lara as the world's premier batsman alongside Tendulkar,
and Chanderpaul as a top performer, Sarwan has not quite maintained
that position, but the healthy competition can only do wonders for
West Indies cricket and their own individual performances.
Holding is not alone in his belief, or admiration. Ramnaresh Sarwan,
a special son who hails from the tiny island of Wakenaam in Guyana,
captured both the accolades and imagination of the cricket world
on the game's greatest stage with his strokeplay, raw courage and
resilience during the recent World Cup.
Those who saw him grow up before their eyes always knew that Sarwan
had been groomed for greatness and had been blessed with special
batting talents even before he became the youngest West Indies first-class
cricketer, aged 15 years, 226 days, appearing for Guyana against
Barbados in the 1994 Red Stripe Cup. For inspiration, he did not
have to look far. His country had produced such batting legends
as the inimitable "Corentyne Thunder" Rohan Kanhai, "Supercat"
Clive Lloyd, Alvin Kallicharran, Roy Fredericks, Basil Butcher and
a host of other gifted players. Each of these had ascended into
cricket's Hall of Greatness by distinguishing himself with the willow,
each had carved his own niche, and each had authored his own unique
And, of course, there were others in different departments of the
game, such as Lance Gibbs, who once held the world record for taking
the most wickets in test cricket, hat trick et al, Rupert Trim,
the forerunner for Guyanese bowlers and Colin Croft who formed a
deadly combination of fast bowlers with Holding, Marshall, Garner
and Roberts; Roger Harper, Clive Lloyd and Faoud Bacchus, whose
remarkable all round fielding were peerless. And what of Robert
Christiani, Stephen Camacho, Leonard Baichan, Bruce Pairaudeau,
and others, all of whom made batting look so easy?
Sarwan's defiant sacrifice to secure an incredible victory for
the West Indies after resuming an innings abruptly truncated by
a fearful blow to the helmet and an emergency visit to a nearby
hospital, failed by a mere six runs. But it will be long remembered
for its bravery by the 20,000 who witnessed the drama live and the
millions of others around the world, watching on television.
His star had risen once again to make him the leading batsman for
the West Indies in the World Cup. His 32 off 15 balls and his majestic
partnership of 63 off 28 balls with Ricardo Powell powered the total
to a match-winning 278 for five against South Africa in the opening
match. His mature 75 off 99 balls against New Zealand began in a
crisis at 46 for five and, in a partnership of 98 with Ridley Jacobs,
almost clinched an unlikely victory. At the start of the World Cup,
he had an average of 51.04 and a strike-rate of 79.4 in 29 one-day
internationals. He has boosted that with a World Cup average of
104.50 at a strike rate of 95.87, after five matches. His recent
achievements propelled him to the vice captaincy of the West Indies
and precipitated Holding's favorable comments. The boy wonder had
become a man, one who would not be content to be the bridesmaid,
but one who would settle for nothing less than the hero.
Sarwan has a very long way to go, before his name can be called
in the same breath as Brian Lara's, Sachin Tendulkar's and Steve
Waugh's. There are many boundaries to cross, or scorch, depending
on how you see them, many hurdles to overcome, many statistics to
conquer. He must capitalize on his early start and his apparent
entrenchment in the West Indies side, before he can be invited to
sit in the same pew with his illustrious predecessors in the cathedral
But he has shown enough to suggest that he will, eventually, and
by divine right, be counted amongst the very greatest. Certainly,
the recent hundred he made against Australia in the historic West
Indian victory, was from the very top drawer, and, hopefully is
an indication of many more things to come.
*Editor's note: Albert Baldeo is an attorney-at-law based in New
York, USA. He is a noted statistician and writer, and has been published
in WisdenOnline, Caribbean Cricket Quarterly, Cricketworld.com and