Leeward Islands batsman Kieran Powell is in line to play his first Test in nearly three years after being recalled to the West Indies squad for the first match against Pakistan at Sabina Park beginning on April 21. The uncapped batting pair of Vishaul Singh and Shimron Hetmyer have also joined Powell in the 13-man squad, after all three batsmen made runs in the warm-up game against Pakistan.
Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo and Leon Johnson were dropped from the squad that toured the UAE for three Tests against Pakistan in October.
Powell, 27, last played Test cricket in 2014 and briefly quit cricket altogether not long afterward in a failed attempt to break into baseball in America. He returned to the West Indies domestic scene last summer in the Caribbean Premier League with St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, and then finished as the leading scorer in the Regional Super50 competition in February, with 513 runs in eight innings at 64.12. He earned a recall to the West Indies ODI team for the three-match series against England in March and was subsequently picked for the ODI series against Pakistan earlier this month.
Powell’s form in the domestic four-day competition is not as solid as his one-day record this season, with 342 runs at 28.50 and just two half-centuries. However, he produced scores of 58 and 84 not out for the West Indies President’s XI in the drawn three-day tour match against Pakistan that concluded on April 19.
Singh, a 28-year old right-hand batsman from Guyana, similarly had an underwhelming season in the domestic four-day competition, with 317 runs at 26.41 and a best of 71. However, he was the third-highest scorer in the 2015-16 season with 712 runs at 50.85 and three centuries. Like Powell, he also produced a strong performance for the West Indies President’s XI, making an unbeaten 135 in the first innings.
Hetmyer, 20, captained West Indies to the 2016 Under-19 World Cup title in Bangladesh last year and had a promising campaign for Guyana in the four-day competition, scoring 496 runs at 38.15 including four half-centuries in 15 innings. He has just one first-class hundred in his 17-match career, but it came against Jamaica in the last match of the 2015-16 season to clinch the four-day title for Guyana.
The ascension of Hetmyer coincides with the continuing impasse between Bravo and the WICB. Bravo was the second-highest scorer for West Indies in the Test series against Pakistan in October, but had his match contract cancelled for criticising WICB President Dave Cameron on Twitter in November. Browne said in January that Bravo would not be considered for selection again until the dispute was settled.
WI squad for first Test
Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Vishaul Singh