JIMMY Adams's future as both West Indies captain and batsman will be decided this Wednesday in the Caribbean when the selectors meet to pick a captain for the series against South Africa. For reasons best known to them, these worthies first pick a captain and then a squad for the Test series even though logically one should pick the best 11 available players and then pick a man to head the team from among them. But then, these men run cricket in the Caribbean.
Adams is probably aware that he does not deserve a place in the team solely as a batsman. He does not deserve to be captain any more either. But then who does? This is a question that has to be seriously considered. And further, more importantly, the selectors should consider whether they would be doing more harm by appointing a new captain rather than giving Adams one more chance to make up for the last two disasters. After all, they did give Brian Lara two Tests to prove his worth as a leader after the disaster which was South Africa in 1998-99.
Cricket is taken more seriously in the Caribbean than in any other part of the world, to the extent that the prime minister of Guyana has started pushing the claims which the prodigal son, Carl Hooper, has on a place in the West Indies team. Everyone is aware that if Hooper were to be accommodated in the team as a batsman, then two things would automatically happen - he would have a claim to the captaincy and he would also keep out some youngster who has shown promise.
But then making Hooper captain would mean rubbing Lara the wrong way. It is fairly well-known that there is no love lost between the two. Lara is known to have referred to Hooper as being "history" during the last World Cup when asked whether the West Indies would not miss the Guyanese captain's all-round ability. The fact that Lara was made captain ahead of Hooper, despite the latter's seniority, has also not gone down too well with Hooper.
There is a further twist to this tale. Sherwin Campbell was vice-captain on the tour of Australia. He proved to be a woeful failure and only came into his own during the final Test when he made two half-centuries. He failed in the one-day series and was dropped from the team. If the selectors decide to retain him in the side, then there could be questions asked as to why he should not be captain. If he is dropped along with Adams, then it would probably be one of the few times in cricketing history that both captain and vice-captain have been jettisoned at one blow as a result of a losing streak.
If Adams retains his spot in the team, then it is more than likely that he will be captain - at least for a couple of Tests, if not the entire series. That could happen; as I have outlined above there may be more damage caused by making Hooper captain than by denying him the post. He has always threatened to dazzle but then fallen away. And there are plenty of people who will be willing to swear that with him, the team generally comes second.
South Africa is the second placed team on the Wisden Test ladder and will be very tough opposition. The West Indies officialdom is well aware of the political implications of the tour and the last thing they would want would be a hiding at home. Thus, if they do bring in a new captain, he would have to be a man who can hold his place in the team and one whose commitment is not in doubt. Hooper would lose out on the second factor. Campbell would not make the grade on the first count, neither would Adams. Lara does not want to be captain any more. Walsh is playing in his last series.
Chanderpaul? Unlikely. Injuries and other factors have kept him out of too many recent Tests. One cannot appoint a captain and then have to look for a new one after one Test. So who remains? Ridley Jacobs has plenty to recommend himself but he has not shown himself to be too good at public speaking. He is a quiet person who does his job efficiently. And while he is one of the few players who could leave Australia with their heads held high, he does not have a great deal of support among the selectors. In the net analysis, it looks like nobody can fill the role of West Indies captain!!!
Given these factors and the general reluctance that selectors in the Caribbean have shown to act with some degree of dynamism, I would not be surprised if Adams is given the reins again for two or three Tests. And unless the miraculous happens, the man who is his vice-captain will take over after that. It may be Campbell. It could be Hooper. It could even be Jacobs. The only thing of which I am sure is that it will be a short-term solution. Foresight is not something which the selectors possess in any great degree; they are more blessed with hindsight. The fact that any fool can be wise after an event seems to have escaped them until now. I do not expect them to realise this overnight.