West Indies selectors have surprisingly omitted Trinidad and Tobago left-hand batsman Darren Bravo and lanky fast-bowler Jason Holder from the 15-man party chosen to defend their International Cricket Council’s World Twenty20 title in Bangladesh from March 16 to April 6.
Bravo, unquestionably the best young batsman in the region, was a member of the 2012 squad that won the world championship in Sri Lanka. Bravo was recently a member of the touring party to New Zealand but returned to the Caribbean for “personal reasons” before the end of the tour.
While Bravo has not found the favour of selectors, Windward Islands wicketkeeper/batsman Andre Fletcher has been given the opportunity to improve on his Twenty20 International record of 212 runs in 18 matches at an average of 13.25 with a highest score of 53 batting in the top order. With Fletcher’s inclusion the team will have three players capable of undertaking the wicketkeeping duties with first-choice keeper Denesh Ramdin included, as well as opening batsman Johnson Charles who has also been used behind the stumps in the shorter versions of the game. Charles was not selected for the imminent international matches against Ireland.
Holder, who was recently snapped up by the Hyderabad Sunrisers to play in the Indian Premier League, has been rated the West Indies best new ball bowler in the shorter forms of the game over the past months by the likes of former West Indies pacer and television commentator Ian Bishop. Though he has played 15 One-Day Internationals, Holder has surprisingly only been chosen previously for one Twenty20 International.
Selectors have instead opted for uncapped Jamaican left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cotterrell, who had a good showing in the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League last year. He played one Test on the tour of India last year. Cotterrell also got the nod ahead of Fidel Edwards, who was a member of the 2012 championship winning squad but whose international career now seems to be nearing its end. The still recovering Kemar Roach was not considered for selection. The often wayward Tino Best is also not in the mix.
Twenty20 marquee batsman Chris Gayle, rated the best in this format, has also been selected after sustaining a hamstring injury in the ill-fated tour to India last year and missing the subsequent tour to New Zealand. Gayle has not had any serious cricket in three months but has reportedly returned to full fitness. Gayle did not play for Jamaica in the just concluded NAGICO Super50 Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago. He and compatriot Marlon Samuels, also returning from injury, will take to the field tomorrow against Ireland in a T20 International and their performances will be keenly watched.
Samuels said he was looking forward to tomorrow’s opening game of the West Indies’ two-match Twenty20 International series against Ireland at Sabina Park. He had a minor surgery to his wrist.
“The intention is to make a positive return, as since the operation I have been putting in a lot of work,” Samuels said yesterday at Sabina Park, following the team’s first training session since arriving in Jamaica on Sunday.
“I have been in the nets batting and have been hitting the ball fairly well, so the hope is that everything will remain the same throughout the series.”
Samuels’ last game was against New Zealand in December.
Also returning to international cricket is the talented but under-rated left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie. Santokie, who received his first IPL contract last week when he was bought by Mumbai Indians, was the leading bowler in last year’s CPL but has not been considered by the selectors since last playing for the West Indies against Australia in March 2012.
West Indies will be without key T20 specialist Kieron Pollard. Pollard injured his knee while playing in a charity football match last year and he said last month that he was holding out some hope of being available for the World T20, but his recovery has not proved quick enough to allow him to be considered for selection.
Squad: Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cotterrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.