Ramdin just looks out of sorts. When he first came into the game, I felt he was a huge prospect. For some reason, he has deteriorated in such a big way. Just the way he is walking back, he looks like a totally lost guy – Viv Richards.
So said Sir Viv Richards about Denesh Ramdin, West Indies’ eternally struggling wicket-keeper. Ramdin had shown plenty of promise when he first came on the scene in 2005, nurdling and nudging his way to a few useful cameos. West Indies never asked Ramdin to be the next Adam Gilchrist; just a reliable keeper, who would contribute consistently in the lower order, occasionally shepherding his side to a win.
Despite having been set a low bar, Ramdin has never done anything but tread water at international level. He has never lived up to the hype; nobody rated him enough to create any in the first place.
Since Ramdin’s debut, he has been lucky to only be confronted with Carlton Baugh Jr (Test average: 17.94) as anything approaching competition, and even then, Ramdin hasn’t been able to definitively nail down the slot as his team’s top wicket-keeper.
In context, it would seem that Sir Viv’s words were pretty fair. Ramdin had scored just 56 runs in four innings in the first two Tests, and in keeping with the rest of his international career, looked like a walking wicket.
Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see Ramdin turn the form book on its head, and score 107 not out against England at Edgbaston. It was a magnificent innings, one for the ages (albeit in a dead match, with a known result, on a flat pitch, with England’s best bowlers taking a snooze. Oh, and we’ll forget that Ramdin was dropped on 69 by Kevin Pietersen).
These minor aberrations notwithstanding, I assure you, it was one of the best knocks you’ll ever see.
In reality, Ramdin’s century was the first time he had passed fifty in Tests in the last 14 innings, stretching back to 2009. In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Ramdin has scored just one ODI fifty in the last five years. With this century, his average in Tests improves to a none-too-remarkable 23.84 in 44 matches.
Still, in typical underdog spirit, everybody was cheering on Ramdin to his century. With some comic book hero batting from his partner Tino Best, an entertaining and unlikely 10th wicket partnership of 143 was somehow conjured up, and cricket fans everywhere cheered on Ramdin in unison.
Or, so we did, until Ramdin produced a moment of Afridi-esque brainlessness. On reaching his century, the diminutive wicket-keeper from Trinidad shouted in ecstasy, looked to the heavens, and then stopped. Having taken off his gloves and helmet, Ramdin fumbled to pull out a piece of paper from his pocket. He pointed to one of the commentary boxes, and seemed to make a series of gibberish gestures communicating something in between: “Who’s your daddy, bitch?” and “Is this a good idea? I’m pretty sure this is a shit idea.”
“YEA VIV, TALK NAH”: the four immortal words – well, only two ‘actual’ words – that sent shockwaves through the cricketing world.
It was so bizarre, and it raised so many questions. Imagine when Ramdin sat down in his hotel room on Sunday morning, as he resumed his innings on 60. “Email is pretty passé these days. Should I send a Tweet? Should I ask the 12th man to bring out an Etch-A-Sketch?”
And, after hours of deliberation: “Or…how’s about I write a note? Yeah, that will really hurt him – especially if it’s on a blank sheet of A4.”
In an act of apparent ‘revenge’, Ramdin tried to make a fool out of Sir Viv Richards. In doing so, he made a fool out of himself.
It was an ill-thought out, pathetic and puerile act from Ramdin, and one that distracted entirely from an excellent century.
Michael Holding described it as “unbecoming of a Test cricketer,” and I could only agree with him. Ramdin’s century was plenty good enough on his own, but considering that he has been one of the worst-performing Test batsmen in the past decade, it was hardly an appropriate time to be so obnoxiously pompous.
At some point, we’ve all been fleetingly tempted to say a public ‘f**k you’ to that one person who didn’t believe in us: the teacher who said “you’ll struggle in law school, but you’d make a good teacher”; the ex who dumped you; the interviewer who said you weren’t “quite what we’re looking for”, and the West Indian legend who justifiably criticised your lack of contributions to the national side.
So, thank you to Denesh Ramdin, for reminding the entire world why actually going ahead with a public display of bitterness is such an awful, awful idea.
And, if you’re reading, Denesh, take heed: one swallow does not make a summer. One innings should not distract from the fact that any criticism coming your way was entirely justified.
The cricketing gods can be mighty cruel, and next time you score a duck (I’ve seen you score a fair few, it will happen again), feel free to be the picture of contrition, and pull out a note saying:
“Ever so sorry Sir Viv, you were right.”
(Nishant Joshi is the editor of AlternativeCricket.com, and The Alternative Cricket Almanack 2011. AlternativeCricket.com is currently developing a scholarship for young Afghan cricketers. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/alternativecricket) and Twitter (twitter.com/altcricket)