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Last Updated:  Monday, 6 January, 2003, 16:07 GMT

Drakes makes up for lost time
By Scott Heinrich
BBC Sport Online

Vasbert Drakes in action for Warwickshire
Drakes played for Warwickshire in 2001
Having been a professional cricketer for over a decade, West Indies paceman Vasbert Drakes can hardly be said to have burst onto the scene.

At an age when most cricketers are pondering retirement, Drakes is finally establishing himself in the international arena.

The 33-year-old is a cricketing journeyman whose 142 first-class matches have taken him to England and South Africa.

But it was his refusal over a number of years to play in domestic competitions in the Caribbean that restricted his international career to just a handful of one-day games - until now.

A change of heart at the West Indies Cricket Board saw Drakes suddenly eligible for selection.

And if his comeback performances are anything to go by, he is hell-bent on making up for lost time.

Vasbert Drakes could be the player to watch in the World Cup
Drakes' former Warwickshire team-mate Neil Smith
Called back for the one-day series in India in December, Drakes was a valuable contributor in his team's close-fought series win.

His form there, as well as doubts over Cameron Cuffy's fitness, saw him make his Test bow against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Although the opposition was not the strongest, Drakes was impressive nevertheless and returned match figures of seven for 77.

Since the loss of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, the West Indies selectors have tried numerous fast bowling combinations.

But, along with Jermaine Lawson, similarly inexperienced, but 13 years Drakes' junior, it could be that West Indies have finally stumbled upon their best attack.

With the World Cup ready to get under way, the timing could not be better.

A settled attack in South Africa would complement a batting line-up that has improved in leaps and bounds with the deeds of Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.

And having played for Border for several seasons, Drakes is well-placed to use his experience in South Africa to good effect.

Dangerous batsman

Former Warwickshire skipper Neil Smith, who played alongside the Barbadian in 2001, feels Drakes can make a real impact in the World Cup - as an all-rounder.

"We never really saw the true Vasbert at Warwickshire because I don't think at any point throughout the summer he was fully fit," Smith told BBC Sport Online.

"But on a couple of occasions he showed that he could bowl quick and he is a very dangerous batsman as well.

"He's the sort of guy you could put in anywhere in the order and turn the game in a matter of overs.

"He's not a tearaway quick and probably not a new-ball bowler, but because of the quality of his batting ability he falls into the all-rounder category.

"He'll know the pitches and conditions in South Africa and that will be invaluable to the West Indies.

"He was always one of those players that you thought, 'if he'd have spent his time back home he certainly would have pushed the West Indies selectors'," Smith said.

It is better late than never, after all, and it is not too late for Drakes to show his country what they have been missing all these years.

Links to more West Indies stories


Drakes' former team-mate Neil Smith
"Vasbert could provide that unknown quantity in the World Cup"

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