by Wade Gibbons
With the International Cricket Council’s World Twenty20 Tournament just weeks away, West Indies selectors are – true to form – among the few still dawdling over the naming of the regional side – a delay helped by the week’s extension granted by the ICC.
Their task is relatively simple with thirteen of the squad basically picking themselves based on the format, the players’ suitability for the format and the location of the tournament. The only two positions which seem likely to cause deliberation for more than 30 seconds would be whether to take an additional spinner and the identity of a third opener, if Chris Gayle, and principally Dwayne Smith, are to be the first choice openers in the competition.
The selectors are seemingly sold on Johnson Charles, but their reasons for this are extremely questionable.
In this format, opening the batting or batting among the first four is prime real estate. These are the positions where the best batsmen often make the greatest impact. Just check the statistics of the Chris Gayles, Kevin Pietersens and the Virat Kohlis.
Unfortunately, Charles has forty-plus phobia and his returns at the top of the order in 14 internationals (eight ODIs and six T20s) do not inspire any confidence. So far he has regaled West Indies fans with scores of 13, 26, 45, 37, 0, 15, 1, 15 (ODIs), 36, 21, 24, 37, 24 and 36.
Mediocrity has become so commonplace in post-1995 West Indies cricket that some might see light at the end of his sub-50 tunnel. Charles has promise but needs to cut his teeth some more in regional cricket.
It is rather peculiar that the West Indies selectors have continued to ignore Kieran Powell in this format. The young Nevisian first came to regional prominence in the Stanford Twenty20 tournament as an attacking opener but to date has not been given a chance in this format when he is a far better batsman than captain Darren Sammy’s compatriot. Powell’s inclusion is something that the selectors should have long considered.
If an additional spinner is taken to join Sunil Narine on tour, it could come down to a straight pick between Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn.
In the pressure cauldron of a World Cup cool heads are important, and unfortunately, Benn and keeping a cool head are not always willing bedfellows. He is a better bowler and batsman than Badree, which is not to say that Badree would be a poor choice as a bowling option. But the leg-spinner is still relatively untried at the international level, even if he has done well for Trinidad and Tobago at the regional and Champions League levels. They could toss a coin on this one.
Nothing much has been heard of Darren Bravo since his return from England to the Caribbean with an injury. But if he is fit and has been playing cricket to any decent standard in his homeland this should be known by now by the selectors and he should be on the plane for the sub-continent next month.
Tino Best should get the nod over both Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards in this format. His cricket over the past eight to ten months has been a revelation. Roach, ideally would be the better bet over Edwards, especially with the latter’s fitness issues. But Roach’s propensity to bowl no-balls could prove nightmarish for the West Indies in this format.
Perhaps when they have finished deliberating over the solution for the strife in Syria, the regional selectors will get around to announcing the team.
The selection should not be far removed from: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice-captain), Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Samuel Badree, Tino Best, Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Smith, Darren Bravo and Ravi Rampaul.