The West Indies Selectors have announced two squads for the upcoming One Day International (ODI) matches against England to be played in the Caribbean. The first of these is a 15-member squad that will be engaged in a 10-day Training Camp prior to the first ODI, to be played in Antigua against England on March 3. The Windies Selectors also announced a 12-member squad for the March 27 President’s XI fixture against the touring Pommies.
The major news surrounding the Windies Training squad is the inclusion of the opening batsman Kieran Powell and to lesser extent the fast bowler Miguel Cummins. Having been absent from the Windies spotlight for over two years, Powell stormed back into consideration with three centuries and two fifties, during the recently concluded Caribbean Regional competition. His return to form could finally signal the end of the West Indies forlorn quest for a suitable opener to partner Kraigg Brathwaite at the top of their batting order.
As opposed to the foregone conclusion that Powell’s became after his prolific form in the Regional 50 Over Competition, Cummins’ inclusion has raised a few eyebrows. He was largely inactive during the Regional 50 Over Competition, playing in only five of the 10 matches his Barbados Pride team competed in. He also only took three wickets altogether.
Based on his largely unflattering returns, Cummins’ place in the 15-member Training Squad therefore becomes highly debatable. Should any one of the pacers who have been selected for the President’s XI match, particularly the veteran Kemar Roach or the exciting new live wire, pacy Jamaican prospect Reynard Leveridge, have an outstanding performance, Cummins could well find himself omitted from the finalized team that will be chosen to face the Englishmen in the March 3, 1st ODI.
Of the 15 members selected to the Training squad, eight are from the Barbados Pride team that emerged as champions of the recently concluded Regional 50 Over Competition. Among those is Shai Hope, the middle order batsman and occasional wicket-keeper, who finished the Competition very strongly with back to back centuries in the semi-final and final.
Hope will most likely occupy the vital number 3 position in the batting order, given the continued absence of Darren Bravo, as a result of his still unresolved dispute with Cricket West Indies. Bravo is now still languishing in exile on the sidelines over the disparaging comments he’d made against the organization’s President, Dave Cameron late last year.
Ashley Nurse, the off-spinning bowling all-rounder, is another of the Bajans who’s inclusion to the 15-member Squad is warranted. Nurse topped the Regional 50 Over’s Competition as the highest wicket-taker, capturing an outstanding 26 wickets from the 10 matches he played. That’s seven more than his closest rival, Trinidad & Tobago’s Ravi Rampaul who captured 19 wickets from his 8 matches played.
Apart from the perhaps predictable exclusion of the veterans Marlon Samuels and Sulieman Benn, the expiry dates for both of whom now seem to have passed, there weren’t any other eyebrow raisers in the 15-member Squad which is as follows:
Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.
Given their respective performances in the Regional 50 Overs Competition, the 12-member President’s XI the Windies Selectors have chosen for the March 27 warm up fixture against the Englishmen, is also devoid of any real surprises. There are some exciting new talents emerging in West Indies cricket, with both bat and ball. Their respective President’s XI inclusions will therefore be seen as an opportunity by those chosen to really cement their claims for higher glory in the eyes of the Selectors.
Arguably the most exciting of those chosen is the Jamaican pacer Reynard Leveridge. Tall, strongly built and fearsomely quick, he was first spotted by Ian Bishop, the former West Indies fast bowling great now turned Commentator, as a net bowler for the Indians during their 2016 Tour of the Caribbean. Largely based on Bishop’s recommendations, he was selected to the West Indies A Team Squad that toured Sri Lanka last year, but failed to register any real performances of note. He however stormed back into contention during the Regional 50 Overs, taking 9 wickets at a fairly reasonable economy rate of 4.60. Even more impressive was the fact that he troubled every one of the top order batsmen he bowled against with his raw pace.
Leveridge certainly has all the necessary raw talent to become an outstanding fast bowler. It will now be up to the team’s new Coach and Cricket Director, the Australian Stuart Law and Jamaica’s former Windies Captain, Jimmy Adams to mold and channel those talents in the required directions. If they can do so, Leveridge along with Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel can give West Indies a very potent pace attack in both of the longer forms of the game, 50 Overs as well as Tests.
Leveridge’s performance in the President’s XI Match will thus be very closely followed, as will those of all the other members of the 12-man Squad, which was chosen as follows:
WICB Board President’s XI Jahmar Hamilton (Capt), Sunil Ambris, Ronsford Beaton, Rahkeem Cornwall, Montcin Hodge, Kyle Hope, Damion Jacobs, Reynard Leveridge, Kyle Mayers, Andre McCarthy, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach