ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Montserrat-born Guyana fast bowler Ronsford Beaton is the only newcomer in a 13-man squad named today by selectors for the imminent Twenty20 international series against Afghanistan in St Kitts next month.
West Indies Test and One-Day International captain Jason Holder has been rested while Jerome Taylor will return to international duty with the squad which will once again be led by Carlos Brathwaite.
Holder has been a regular member of the T20I squad since his debut three years ago, but Courtney Browne, the chairman of the West Indies selection panel, said the lanky bowling all-rounder had been given a break with a view to having him recharged and ready for significant ODI contests in the next two months.
West Indies face a race against time to qualify directly for the 2019 ICC World Cup to be hosted by England and Wales, and the selectors clearly see Holder’s role as important to the team’s bid to avoid having to play in the qualifying tournament next year in Bangladesh.
The World Cup will feature 10 teams with hosts England, and the top seven other teams in the ICC ODI Rankings on September 30 this year, earning automatic qualification with the remaining two spots being decided at the qualifying tournament.
“He has requested a break and, after discussion with the staff, we have granted him this period to refresh himself and prepare for the upcoming ODIs against Afghanistan and India.”
As a consequence of Holder’s absence, veteran fellow fast bowler Taylor gets a chance to give the selectors cogent proof that he is serious about fully resuming his international career, after he had announced his retirement from Tests and ODIs last year.
Taylor has played 23 T20Is for West Indies, the last of which was against Pakistan in September 2016, in addition to 46 Tests and 85 One-day Internationals, and is part of a core of experienced players that includes veteran batsman Marlon Samuels, spinners Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, as well as batsmen Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons that Browne hoped would fortify the squad in the game’s shortest format.
Pollard and Simmons are currently part of the Mumbai Indians team which today made it into the final of the Indian Premier League competition set for Sunday. Though performing creditably for Mumbai, Pollard’s recent T20 performances for the West Indies have been poor. In the recent T20 international series against Pakistan Pollard had scores of 14 in 27 balls, three runs in four balls and three runs in six balls. Though a significant performer in franchise tournaments, Pollard’s record for the West Indies is 54 Twenty20s, 762 runs, an average of 20.59 and two half-centuries.
However, Browne said the plan was to keep the senior players in the team to help develop the younger cricketers.
“After the T20I series against Pakistan, we felt that it was important to keep the same group together so that the coaches can continue developing the young players,” he said. “This coupled with the vast T20 experience of some of our senior players can help us to build a very formidable unit.
“In developing a high performance unit, there is never room for complacency and our expectation is to win against a team that is ranked lower than us in the ICC Rankings.”
On the inclusion of Beaton, Browne said: “Our head coach Stuart Law has asked for someone who can add some firepower to the attack. We felt that Ronsford has shown he can bowl with sustained pace in T20 cricket and we are confident he will do very well.”
The 24-year-old Beaton has not quite lived up to the promise he showed as a precocious teenaged fast bowler and has grabbed 31 wickets from 36 T20 matches, most of which have been for either the Guyana Amazon Warriors or Trinidad & Tobago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League.
All-rounder Jonathan Carter, who was part of the training squad named ahead of the T20I series against Pakistan in April, was left out, along with opener Andre Fletcher and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, but have been named in a 12-member, Ashley Nurse-led WICB President’s XI squad that will play a warm-up match against the Afghans before the start of the T20I series.
Carter performed relatively well in the three-match One-Day International series against England in March that West Indies lost 3-0. Carter had scores of 52, 39 and 46.
“This is an opportunity for the experienced players to restate their desire to represent West Indies again by way of performance and the inexperienced players to show their ability at a higher level with a view to be considered for selection in the future,” said Browne.
Nicholas Pooran, whose participation in the last regional season hit a snag, when he chose to play in the Bangladesh Premier League and was subsequently suspended by the WICB, is one of the players named in the President’s XI squad.
Afghanistan famously beat West Indies, by six runs, the last time both sides played in a T20I, at the World T20 last year in India before Darren Sammy’s side moved on to win the tournament.
WEST INDIES: Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams
WICB PRESIDENT’S XI: Ashley Nurse (captain), Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Miguel Cummins, Andre Fletcher, Delorn Johnson, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Nicholas Pooran, Raymon Reifer, Devon Thomas