Former West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan is set to announce his retirement from international cricket in Guyana on Thursday. Sarwan’s last international match was an ODI against India at The Oval during the 2013 Champions Trophy. He has made 286 international appearances for West Indies in his career.
Sarwan, 36, who made his first-class debut for Guyana, against Barbados in the Red Stripe Cup of 1995-96 at the age of 15, played the first of his 87 Tests four years later, in May 2000 against Pakistan in Barbados, and scored 84 and 11*. He struck his maiden Test century in his 28th match, against Bangladesh in Dhaka, and gradually cemented his place at No. 3 in West Indies’ Test line-up.
One of his best performances came in May 2003, in a home Test against Australia in Antigua, where he scored a crucial 105 at No. 5 to help West Indies chase down 418, the highest successful fourth-innings chase in Test cricket. He followed that up by scoring 392 runs in a four-Test series in South Africa, although West Indies lost the series 3-0.
Fourteen of his 15 Test centuries came at No. 3, including a career-best 291 against England in Barbados in 2009, which equalled Viv Richards’ personal best. His record of 4197 runs from 60 matches is the third highest among West Indies batsmen at No. 3, and he also equalled Richie Richardson for the most centuries by a West Indies batsman at this position – 14. Overall, Sarwan will finish with a Test average of 40.01, having scored 5842 runs in 87 Tests. His last match in the format came in Barbados against India in 2011.
Sarwan made his ODI debut on the tour of England in July 2000 and in a career that spanned almost 13 years, he earned a reputation as a finisher. Signs of that ability came early on in his limited-overs career when he struck an unbeaten 83 to seal a last-ball win in Jamshedpur against India in November 2002. He also played an important role in West Indies’ series victories in the Natwest Series in July 2004 and the Champions Trophy later that year.
He was the second-highest run-scorer in the 2004 Champions Trophy, with 166 runs in four matches at an average of 83. Sarwan played three World Cups for West Indies – 2003, 2007 and 2011 – scoring 739 runs. However, he lost his place in the ODI side after a home series against India in 2011, despite finishing as the second-highest run-getter with 216 runs in five games, which included three fifties. India had won the series 3-2.
Sarwan was recalled in January 2013, after 18 months out of the ODI side, for the limited-overs series in Australia. He scored only 12 in three matches on his return, before striking an unbeaten 120 against Zimbabwe in a home series in February. He was dropped from the ODI side later that year. Sarwan is ranked as the seventh-highest run-getter for West Indies in ODIs, with a tally of 5804 runs from 181 matches at an average of 42.67, including five centuries and 38 fifties. He also played 18 T20Is between 2007 and 2010, scoring 298 runs with two fifties.
Sarwan captained West Indies in four Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is. He had been named stand-in captain for a home ODI series against Bangladesh in 2004 but took over as full-time captain when Brian Lara retired in 2007. A series of injuries, however, limited his time as captain and he eventually lost the role to Chris Gayle.
Sarwan also faced a few controversies during his international career. In March 2005, Sarwan was one of seven players – the group also included Lara and Gayle – who were dropped from the list of probables for the series against Pakistan and South Africa following a contract conflict between an individual sponsor (Cable and Wireless) and the team sponsor (Digicel), with the WICB insisting that the players could not be considered for selection until their individual sponsorship contracts were examined. Sarwan was later considered for selection after terminating his agreement with Cable and Wireless.
In 2007, Sarwan, then captain, criticised former coach Bennett King, calling the latter “one of the worst coaches” he had played under, and alleged that King was abusive to players.
Sarwan was also cut from the contract list in 2010, after his fitness was “deemed unsatisfactory”, and he was subsequently dropped from the ODI sides, before being recalled for the 2011 World Cup. He was picked for the home Tests against Pakistan and India after a gap of nearly 18 months, but played only four Tests before being excluded again.
Following the contract snub, Sarwan lodged an appeal against the WICB in March 2011, for “unfairly questioning in public his fitness and attitude”. The matter was heard in arbitration and in March 2012, Sarwan was awarded $161,000 in damages.
After his international career wound down, Sarwan continued to keep himself busy in the first-class and Twenty20 circuit. Sarwan played in only three List A games after his final international appearance, against India in the 2013 Champions Trophy, all of them for Guyana in the 2013-14 domestic 50-over tournament. He played two seasons of county cricket, however, as part of Leicestershire. While he had decent returns in 2013, scoring 255 runs in five matches at 36.42, his performances fell apart the following season in which 10 innings yielded only 184 runs. That happened to be his last season in first-class cricket.
Sarwan was part of the Guyana team that made the finals of the Caribbean T20 in 2012-13 and the Caribbean Premier League in 2013, but had lukewarm returns. Despite batting at Nos. 3 and 4 in the Caribbean T20, he ended the tournament with 61 runs in eight matches. In the CPL, he initially came out at No. 4, he was later pushed down the order and batted mostly at Nos. 6 and 7. He ended the tournament with 80 runs in nine matches at 20. In the latest edition of the tournament, he made only two appearances for the Trinbago Knight Riders and batted once, scoring 9.