ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Veteran opener Chris Gayle has moved a step closer to crowning his career with an appearance in the 12th edition of the Cricket World Cup to be held in England from May 30 to July 14.
The veteran left-hander was today named in the West Indies’ 14-man squad for the first time in seven months, for the first two One-Day Internationals of the five-match series against England starting later this month. He is currently plying his trade in the Bangladesh Premier League where his form has been very patchy.
The 39-year-old is joined by opening partner Evin Lewis who has also been included following a similar length of absence, while uncapped attacking left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran is set to make his debut after finally getting the attention of selectors for the 50-overs format.
Off-spinner Ashley Nurse is the fourth change to the squad that toured Bangladesh last December, returning to the lineup after recovering from injury.
Chandrapaul Hemraj, who scored 12 runs in two innings against Bangladesh, has been dropped along with underachieving batsman Kieran Powell and Sunil Ambris. All-rounder and Twenty20 captain Carlos Brathwaite has also been left out.
According to selectors, veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels has been omitted due to injury. However, his form in the one-day format has been erratic in recent times.
The series is the penultimate one before the ICC 50-overs World Cup and chief selector Courtney Browne said it would provide an ideal gauge of the squad’s preparation.
“As we continue our Cricket World Cup preparations, the upcoming series against the top-ranked ODI side is a great opportunity for us to gauge where we are as a team,” Browne said.
“This allows us to identify any areas that need addressing relating to selection and also helps the coaching staff to finetune their game strategy.
“We welcome the return of Chris Gayle who missed the last two series and Ashley Nurse from injury.
We are pleased to introduce Nicholas Pooran to the ODI cricket for the first time. He is clearly a young player with undoubted talent and we believe he can add value to our middle order.”
Gayle and Lewis featured in the three-match home series against Bangladesh last July but missed the tours of India and Bangladesh in the latter part of the year. Both have continued to play in various Twenty20 leagues, however.
Pooran, meanwhile, forced his way into the squad with prolific scoring in the Super50 last October when he averaged nearly 49 for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.
He has also scored heavily in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League to follow up his decent form against India and Bangladesh last year.
There is no room for explosive all-rounder Andre Russell who missed the tours of India and Bangladesh but is currently plying his trade in the Bangladesh Premier League, while off-spinner Sunil Narine remains on the sidelines after playing his last ODI over two years ago. Narine has been reluctant to risk his bowling action in international cricket, after being called on three occasions in Twenty20 franchise cricket for throwing.
West Indies take on England in the first two ODIs at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on February 20 and 22.
SQUAD – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas. (CMC)