A chance for us to ‘remember the name Sherfane Rutherford’
By Akeem Greene
Windies will seek redemption against favoured hosts India in a three-match T20 series, which gets cracking on Sunday in Kolkata.
On face value, the mind will lead you to think this bilateral engagement should be bread and butter for a two-time world champ in a place considered a home away from home for their marquee T20 globetrotters.
However, they are depleted. There is no Chris Gayle, no Andre Russell, no Sunil Narine, no Evin Lewis, no Marlon Samuels, but there is Sherfane Rutherford.
The young all-rounder has not stepped on the field yet for an international match, but the expectations have already risen like the thousands of Indians expected to descend on the venue match day.
In the absence of the decorated T20 gladiators, the versatile 20 year-old will have to either do the rear-guard duties or provide the explosive light at the top given the squad has no regular opener in the format.
His numbers suggest he can do the job. He was one of the players to leave a lasting impression in the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League, where he racked up 171 runs in eight matches at a healthy strike rate of 142.50.
His most destructive innings was an unbeaten 13-ball 45 against champions Trinbago Knight Riders, which included six maximums and one four, and rocketed Warriors to victory at 155 in 14.1 overs at Providence.
There is also level-headed and brazen approach to this batting. In the Global T20 Canada, he struck 10 sixes and 11 fours in 134 not out off 66 balls, lifting West Indies B out of a deep hole at 11-3 and taking them to victory at 221-4, winning off the last ball of the match.
Speaking to News Room Sport prior to departure for India, he noted he was overjoyed for an opportunity to play international cricket, which has now meandered from a childhood dream to reality.
“Well I always had the believe that I can play for West Indies, but it got closer when I scored my first hundred in Canada and also when I got some good scores in the CPL,” the man from Demerara Cricket Club further stated.
With fellow countryman Shimron Hetmyer grabbing the limelight in the 50-over leg which should have brought out the T20 scouts’ checkbooks, Rutherford knows his audition is now but no pressure right?
“To be honest it is a game of cricket and I won’t want to put myself under any pressure by thinking too much so I just will look to enjoy [the moment] and stay positive.”
It’s highly likely the hosts will give a debut to left-arm spinning all-rounder Krunal Pandya and there is also Kuldeep Yadav. The two are undoubtedly a different caliber from Nakita Miller – the left-arm spinner he hammered at Providence – and it is a prospect of domination the left-hand batsman favours once more.
He has already been snapped up by Bengal Tigers for the T10 Cricket League competition in the Middle East. Tigers are coached by Stephen Fleming, who also coaches Chennai Super Kings at the IPL and Melbourne Stars at the BBL.
With the glamour and the financial allure that comes from the shorter formats, Rutherford still wants to face the mighty test of Test cricket and be an all-format player.
This is the first time Windies return to Eden Gardens for a T20 since now captain Carlos Brathwaite smashed England’s Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to seal a remarkable world title.
Commentator Ian Bishop narrated the onslaught, which culminated with him saying “remember the name Carlos Brathwaite.
Could Bishop now give Rutherford a memorable send-off? The stage is his to perform but time will tell.