Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican is back in senior West Indies colours. He has been selected to the Test squad for the two-match series against the ICC number one ranked India in October.
Warrican played the last of his four Tests in Australia in January 2016 but was handed a red-ball contract by Cricket West Indies in January this year, indicating that he remained very much part of their future plans.
The 26-year-old Vincentian-born Barbadian has taken 11 wickets, with a best bowling performance of 4-67. Warrican has been recalled following an outstanding series against the England Lions in February this year while representing West Indies ‘A’.
During that three-match home series which the Windies ‘A’ won 3-0, Warrican snared an amazing 31 wickets, including a best of 8-34, at an average of just 8.96. Together with Leeward Islands off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who has once again been ignored by selectors, Warrican proved almost unplayable at times for the English batsmen.
He has since spent the last two months with the West Indies A team, playing England Lions and India A in England. While his numbers from those games did not match the wickets haul he had in the West Indies, Warrican showed his quality when he caused the touring Sri Lankans issues in May, claiming 4 for 81 in a warm-up game in Tarouba. In India, he will offer West Indies another specialist spin option along with leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
Alzarri Joseph, the 21-year old fast bowler, is also set to return to Test cricket after more than a year. Joseph broke into the West Indies side as a 19-year-old in 2016 and has since played six Tests, the last of which was last August in England. Joseph is returning from a stress fracture in his back, which he picked up in New Zealand in December. He returned to limited-overs cricket in the preceding series at home against Bangladesh and was picked in the squad for the second Test of that series. He, however, did not play, making this his first chance at long-form cricket since the injury.
Batsman Sunil Ambris is also back for his first Test of the year, having missed out recently due to injury, according to West Indies’ chairman of selectors Courtney Brown. Ambris had fractured his left forearm during the series against New Zealand last December – his debut series, where he was hit-wicket twice in two games – but it was believed that he had recovered from that injury ahead of West Indies’ home-summer series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Jahmar Hamilton, the uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman, has also made the 15. Hamilton was picked for the home Tests against Sri Lanka but didn’t get a game. In India, he will provide back-up with the gloves to regular wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.
Fast bowler Kemar Roach has recovered from a hamstring injury which he sustained in the second Test against Bangladesh and along with the burly Shannon Gabriel will spearhead the Windies’ attack.
Batsman Devon Smith, who made a return this season against Sri Lanka after three years out of the team, and fast bowler Miguel Cummins are the only two to miss out from the squad that played the Bangladesh series. Smith’s exclusion will most likely mean the end of his disappointing 15-year international career, in which he failed to live up to his full potential. In 43 Test matches, Smith averages 23.78, with one century and eight half-centuries, while his average of 24.62 in 47 ODIs is only slightly better.
The 36-year-old Smith endured a miserable outing against Bangladesh, scoring just 76 runs in the two-match Test series which the Windies won 2-0. He had performed even worse in the preceding drawn series against Sri Lanka where he scored 91 runs in three Tests at a paltry average of 15. Smith has struggled consistently against spin bowlers – offspin especially – and was bound to be considered a major batting liability in Indian conditions against the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and company.
Cummins was also disappointing in the five Test matches which he played against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh where he took three wickets against the former in three matches and six against the latter in two. He bowled short lengths consistently and was often an unreliable option when brought into the attack. In 13 Test matches, the 27-year-old has taken just 27 wickets at an average of 37.59, while in 11 ODIs he has nine scalps.
Browne said: “The panel congratulates Jason Holder and his team on the excellent performance against Bangladesh. As the team embarks on a tough tour of India, the successes against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh should hold them in good stead. The panel welcomes back Sunil Ambris, who missed the last couple of series due to injury, along with Jomel Warrican, who adds a second spin-bowling option to the attack.”
While West Indies are coming off a convincing 2-0 series win against Bangladesh and a drawn series against Sri Lanka, they have struggled significantly against their upcoming opponents. Their last Test win against India came in Kingston in 2002, while their last Test success in India was a 243-run win in Mohali in 1994.
The two Tests in India will be followed by five ODIs and three T20Is.
SQUAD – Jason Holder (captain), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican. (Cricinfo/WG)