"You can’t win anything with kids.”
Alan Hansen assertion about a young Manchester United team, that eventually became 1995/96 season English Premier League champions, now lives in infamy.
In the preceding 17 years under Sir Alex Ferguson's leadership, giving young players (or "kids" in Hansen's words) opportunities was a key part of Manchester United's success.
From a West Indies cricket perspective however, their attempts at following a youth policy hasn't gained similar results, but rather the polar opposite.
Dating back to the 2014 abandoned tour of India, Windies selectors made a decision to systematically purge senior players from the Test and One-Day International teams, which was in place until recent amnesty comprises.
The three-year end product of that policy is a solitary Test series win against Zimbabwe and failures to be present in 2017 Champions trophy and automatic qualification for 2019 World Cup.
Experience, for now, is the modus operandi for the powers in Cricket West Indies. Hence the recalls for stalwart domestic veterans Rayad Emrit and Nikita Miller for limited-overs leg of ongoing New Zealand tour.
Emrit, who last played for Windies when Brian Lara was captain during a 2007 tour to India, noted one of his motivating factors that's kept him playing at the age of 36 is his boyhood ambition of wearing the maroon.
"I never gave up on getting a Windies recall, always thought if I kept performing I would get another chance.
“As I’ve said before when this question was asked to me after performing in domestic cricket, once I keep playing at a decent level and enjoying it, my aspirations always has been to represent West Indies", said Emrit
While Sunil Narine and Devendra Bishoo have emerged in Windies' search for spinners in the last five years, Miller statistically has been the most successful slow bowler in domestic cricket for them, especially in first-class matches where he averages 16.
However his lone Test was in 2009 and last represented Windies during the 2015 World Cup.
“Yes I was surprised (at call up) because I’ve seen recent interviews by selectors and coach saying they were looking for continuity with same team”, said the 35-year-old left-arm spinner.
He continued: “I’m a player that tries to deal with what was in front of me. Was just enjoying playing for my Jamaica franchise. Didn’t have any thoughts about playing or not playing for West Indies.
“So whatever job I’m asked to do by coaching staff in New Zealand, whether it’s on the bench as 12th man or on the field, will take it in stride. I know my abilities and I’m sure the selectors at this juncture saw a role I can play to help improve the team.”
The rise of Twenty20 leagues has in last decade has created a solid opportunity for players not playing international cricket to secure themselves financially.
Outside the less published world of Windies domestic cricket, first-class and one-day cricket, Emrit has been a beneficiary of the lucrative T20 leagues in Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Afghanistan, Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and now disbanded cricket champions league in India.
“I’ve been lucky and blessed to play in leagues around world and indeed it has eased my mind a bit while not getting close to Windies pick in last decade. Those leagues definitely have helped me become a better player.
“But as a Caribbean player ultimate goal is the play for West Indies. They are other young talented bowlers also in squad such as Ronsford Beaton and Kesrick Williams, so my first aim is to hopefully make the team and potentially build on that”, said Emrit.
An alternative viewpoint in Caribbean is that despite their undoubted credentials and fact they probably should been around Windies setup more regularly in past, their advanced ages meant their times had passed.
However the Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaican native duo think otherwise.
“That’s our nature in Caribbean, right now in Trinidad I have not been picked in the current domestic season, because of my age and selectors focus on youth. Age is just a number, performances should be sole benchmark”, said Emrit.
“Around the world in recent years I’ve seen players my age such as Chris Rogers, Gareth Batty, Stephen Cook, Adam Voges, Misbah, Younis Khan playing international cricket," said Miller.
“I believe if a player is of standard and is performing he should be picked regardless of age,” he signed off.
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