ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Left-hander Darren Bravo is poised to make a return to West Indies colours for the first time in two years after being named in a revamped 15-man Twenty20 squad for the three-match tour of India next month.
The 29-year-old is one of eight changes to the Carlos Brathwaite-led squad which went under to Bangladesh in a three-match series in the Caribbean and United States earlier in August.
Significantly, the touring party includes five debutants with exciting all-rounders Fabian Allen and Sherfane Rutherford, fast bowlers Obed McCoy and Oshane Thomas, along with left-arm spinner Khary Pierre all being called up.
T20 veteran Kieron Pollard makes his return to the squad for the first time in 15 months while firebrand left-hander Shimron Hetmyer has been restored to the side after playing two matches on the tour of New Zealand last January.
However, Bravo’s selection is the most notable, especially since his public falling out with Cricket West Indies president, Dave Cameron, in November 2016 which led to his subsequent exile from all formats of the game.
Upset by Cameron’s controversial comments regarding his downgraded retainer contract, Bravo blasted the CWI top administrator as a “big idiot” in a Twitter rant, leading to his sending home ahead of the Tri-Nations Series in Zimbabwe.
A stand-off between Bravo and CWI followed and even though the board announced an end to the impasse last year July and indicated the Trinidadian was “available with immediate effect to play in all forms of cricket”, he has not appeared in a single representative West Indies side, frequently opting out from being selected.
In his time away from West Indies cricket, Bravo plied his trade on the lucrative global T20 circuit and this year gathered 353 runs for champions Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League.
In a statement, chief selector Courtney Browne said he welcomed the return of both Bravo and Pollard to international cricket.
The five uncapped players, meanwhile, all impressed during the CPL and for Windies B during the Global T20 Canada, and Browne said it was the ideal time to involve them in the international setup.
“With the 2020 ICC World T20 two years away and the limited amount of T20 Internationals within the next year, the panel believes at this juncture it is time to invest in the young players that have emerged over the last two years from Windies A and B teams, along with 2018 CPL,” he said.
“The panel believes that this new group of cricketers, in addition to their cricketing skills, will have the athleticism needed to improve our fielding, which will be vital to our success. The selection of a young group two years prior to the World T20 gives the coaching staff time to help them with their skills and for the team to develop into a cohesive and competitive unit.
“The team will continue to retain some experienced players who will work alongside the younger group.”
Notably, leg-spinner Samuel Badree, once the world’s leading T20 bowler, has been dropped along with Andre Fletcher, Chadwick Walton, Marlon Samuels, Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams. The talented Trinidadian wicketkeeper/batsman Nicholas Pooran has not been selected in either squads. Pooran represented the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League and was among their leading run-getters and has been in outstanding form in the ongoing Regional Super50 Tournament, reeling off three consecutive half-centuries for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force. Samuels, however, will feature in the 15-man one-day side led by regular skipper Jason Holder, which sees Allen, Thomas and left-hander Chandrapaul Hemraj as the uncapped players getting the nod.
The 25-year-old Hemraj averaged 25 in the Super50 earlier this year with two half-centuries, and gathered 133 runs at an average of 33 for West Indies A in the Tri-Nations Series in England.
Sunil Ambris, already in India with the Test unit, makes a return to the one-day squad after making his debut on the tour of England last year, before breaking his arm in New Zealand last December.
“As we continue our Cricket World Cup preparations, the upcoming tour of India provides a great opportunity to expose some of our young talent,” Browne said.
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, pulled from the current Test tour of India due to fitness concerns, has been included in the 50-overs squad subject to a fitness Test, though he is currently playing for Windies B in the ongoing Super50 Cup.
Meanwhile, injury has put Andre Russell out of the 50-overs squad though he has been included in the T20 side, while talismanic opener Chris Gayle is unavailable for the India tour.
There is no place for batsman Jason Mohammed, once vice-captain of the side, or Kieran Powell. Both featured against Bangladesh last July.
The first One-Day International of the five-match series bowls off October 21 in Guwahati with the T20 series set to begin November 4 in Kolkata.
A camp will be staged in India prior to the start of the ODI series. (CMC/WG)
ODI – Jason Holder (captain),
Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris,
Devendra Bishoo, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope,
Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell,
Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels,
T20I – Carlos Brathwaite (captain),
Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo,
Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis,
Obed McCoy, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard,
Rovman Powell, Denesh Ramdin,
Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas.