An elegant right-hander, known for his excellent footwork, Ramnaresh Sarwan was a mainstay of the West Indies middle order throughout most the first decade of the 21st century. His debut Test in 2000 saw him remain unbeaten in both innings against Pakistan’s fearsome pace duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis; his first innings 84, in particular, hinting at the undoubted talent that he possessed.
That match saw Sarwan slot in at number six, but it was the number three position in the West Indies batting order that he made his own. Only Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and Rahul Dravid scored more runs at number three during the 2000s. However, Sarwan’s Test career was nearly halted before it had taken off thanks to a horror tour in Australia in 2000/01. A run of scores that consisted of a pair at Brisbane, followed by innings of 2 and 1 at Perth, and then another duck at Sydney was only salvaged by a second innings 51 at the SCG that helped stave off calls for him to be dropped.
The next phase of Sarwan’s career saw him dogged by an inability to convert fifties into hundreds. He had made two half centuries before that knock at Sydney and would go on to post 11 more before finally reaching three figures against Bangladesh in 2002. Sarwan did not look back and went on to atone for his poor series against Australia by helping to beat the same opposition with a classy 105 in a world record run chase of 418 at Antigua in 2003.
It was against England that Sarwan enjoyed batting the most. Across his career, he averaged 57.56 against them and home and away, back-to-back series against his favourite opponents in 2009 gave Sarwan the chance to show his class again. Hitting three hundreds in nine innings across the two series, including a career best 291 at Bridgetown – equalling Viv Richards’ highest Test score – Sarwan averaged 72.77 in what would turn out to be something of a swansong for his Test career.
Poor showings in home series against both Pakistan and India in 2011 meant that he was dropped from the side and would not return, though he did not officially retire from international cricket until 2016. In the interim, Sarwan was signed by Leicestershire and was the county’s leading run scorer with 941 during the 2012 season.