By Dev Tyagi
What’s with strong will and Guyanese batsmen?!? First, there was the iconic world cup winning captain Sir Clive Lloyd. Then, the ‘Tiger’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul- the messiah of many a batting effort going down the drain. A savior, truth be told who turned many perilous innings into a vehicle of stability. And subsequently, the understated legend turned huge underachiever- Carl Hooper- who could play the elegant shots as well as he could block deliveries that could rattle the best in the business.
Little wonder they called him the king, King Carl!
Now, a rising force from that part of the Caribbean that’s always contributed to the West Indies but has also remained undermined, on occasions, Sherfane Rutherford is Guyana’s rising force.
And who knows could well go onto become a recurring feature of the West Indies limited-overs cricket team.
Though, most important for Rutherford, all of 23, would be the ongoing CPL, where he’s only recently produced a startling knock that must surely have knocked on the selector’s doors.
For it’s the selectors he’d want to target for they are entrusted with the massive responsibility of establishing the final squad for the mother of all cricketing battles- the fast-approaching T20 World Cup.
A few hours ago, when much of the world was awaiting, perhaps with endless anticipation, the start of the India versus England 4th Test, one young man, miles away from England or India was doing his fair bit for the flourishing St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
In that format of the game where teams like Mumbai have given pride to all Indians, Sherfane Rutherford’s explosive batting has offered delight not just to the Guyanese people, but all ‘Patriots’ in the Caribbean.
Not a flash in the pan batsman where the 2021 season has shown, both the last two contests featuring the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots have yielded wins, the chief architect of which has been none other than Sherfane Rutherford.
With match-winning fifties in both games, a 58 off just 34 against the Amazon Warriors followed by a 26-ball-50 against the Tallawahs, Rutherford’s bat been oozing fire of lately.
Of his 108 bravely powered runs, 60 have come by virtue of sixes, 10 in one contest and 4 in another.
With shots all around the ground, including the growingly familiar whack over long off for a huge hit, Rutherford is leaving bowlers rudderless at the moment.
Make no mistake for he’s not been pitted against regular pushovers; Fidel Edwards, Andre Russell, Imran Tahir and the likes aren’t the easiest to score against, forget plundering them for runs.
But the left-handed batsman has been on a different mission altogether in the 2021 edition of the CPL, ensuring that if the T20 league is the biggest party in the Caribbean then it’s his beats that produce the thudding sounds.
What these fifties and much-valuable match-winning knocks have done is that they’ve done a fair bit in elevating Sherfane Rutherford to a platform where his talent is being seen and hopefully noted even by the likes of a Kieron Pollard.
For remember, the Windies white-ball captain too will have some say in who gets to board the flight to the UAE in a few months’ time.
What would be truly fantastic is if in the next contest versus the Trinbago Knight Riders Rutherford can smash a few more runs, hopefully by virtue of big hits just the way he’s so beautifully been doing only so his future captain can take note and form a positive opinion.
At the same time, Rutherford’s fearlessness amplified by that vital 53, against Barbados Tridents, his first half-century this season, saw the leftie score runs against a probing attack featuring none other than Holder, Perera, Thomas and Amir.
While Oshane Thomas picked three wickets in the August 26 contest that his team won, Rutherford emerged as the top scorer, once again, standing head and shoulders above the others like the destructive Evin Lewis and even Chris Gayle.
Does he have Gaylestorm’s signature of approval as a future resource the Windies white-ball team could count on?
One wouldn’t deny that entirely.
But what’s also important to remember is that Rutherford has already demonstrated what he’s capable of at the international level well over a year ago when he hadn’t touched 22.
During Ireland’s tour of West Indies, in the 1st T20I, the only contest Ireland one on a dismal outing where West Indian heavy-hitting mowed down the visitors, Sherfane Rutherford had an early say in the series.
A 13-ball-26 was more than a cameo at number 6; it was an exhibition of clean hitting of a high class, the brave batter wasting no time whatsoever in carving Barry McCarthy for consecutive sixes, of which one was a literal one-handed swat over deep mid wicket fence for half a dozen.
Even Lara, known for his inclination toward executing one-handed sixes, on occasions, would have been proud at the shot that deserved to have been counted as the stroke of the T20I series that saw a tied result (1-1 with rain swallowing one game).
What was most interesting, however, during the 15 Jan, 2020 contest was the fact that the recent makeshift T20I captain and regular vice-captain, Pooran was at the other end observing Rutherford clawing at the Irish.
In the course of the imminent future, Sherfane Rutherford will have a few more opportunities to go out there and express himself and his backers would want nothing less than the bright talent to do exactly that fearlessly so, much like what one’s gotten around to see in 2021.
May the force be with Rutherford as also a possible chance to fly to the UAE!