In less than a month, the West Indies will begin their quest towards back-to-back T-20 World Championships when they face England on October 23. The team’s title defense was laid out on September 9 when the Selection Panel revealed their 15-man squad for the tournament.
As a reminder, the fifteen-man squad includes Kieron Pollard (Captain), Nicholas Pooran (Vice-Captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr. The traveling reserves include Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, and Akeal Hosein.
The reaction to the announcement of the team has caused shock, confusion, and even disdain.
Below I make an assessment of the selection of the team:
- The Batsmen
The team consists of flamboyant batsmen that are capable of taking the game away from the opposition in a blink of an eye. The lineup consists of Pooran, Fletcher, Gayle, Hetmyer, Lewis, and Simmons. Many fans are questioning the selection of Gayle due to his lack of production in the CPL tournament.
The selectors believe that Gayle’s experience and potential explosiveness could move him to deliver on the big stage. I am ultimately fine with the decision because the team can benefit from his presence in the lineup, and he does deserve to exit on his terms. The situation is similar to how Brian Lara said goodbye to the game at the 2007 World Cup.
On the other hand, I disagree with the selection of Andre Fletcher. I feel he has been given several chances and never really delivered consistently. In the CPL, if we removed his 81 not out against the Knightriders, he tallied just 148 runs in 11 innings.
I would have preferred if the Panel selected Sherfayne Rutherford, the young Guyanese. He has played in the IPL and PCB T-20 league. In the 2021 CPL, he played in 11 matches and scored 262 runs which sit as the 7th most in the tournament. The Guyana Cricket Board made it publicly known that Shepherd did not make the team due to not reaching the standard fitness level. However, there is a lack of transparency about these fitness standards and how is it assessed.
- The All-rounders
The team consists of potent all-rounders including Pollard, Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Chase, and Russell. It will make the team bat deeper and have several options to split the 20 overs. It will be interesting to see which players miss out on matches from this group because they will not be able to play every match, and man-management will be crucial.
Andy Roberts on the Mason and Guest radio show expressed his strong desire that Jason Holder should have been named a member of the squad and not to be a reserve player. He stated, “I was shocked because he is the best cricketer we have in the region, bar none. I’d pick him as one of the first choices for the World Cup, what is he doing in the reserves.
It is embarrassing for us to see how we could treat our best cricketer. Jason Holder is our best cricketer.” I think the selectors decided between Roston Chase against Jason Holder and chose to go with Chase because of his current form. According to Cricinfo, Chase scored 446 runs in 12 innings while picking up 10 wickets in the CPL. Holder only scored 109 runs in 10 innings and picked up 5 wickets.
The selectors made a bold decision to choose Chase but at least you see the merit of the decision. Holder’s non-selection in the team is not as clear-cut as Mr. Roberts is making it seem. However, let us hope the snub ignites Jason to perform given the likelihood of injuries at the tournament.
- The bowlers
The 4 bowlers selected for the tournament are Rampaul, Thomas, McCoy, and Walsh Jr. had a stellar summer with the ball especially in the Australia series. In the 5 matches, Hayden bowled all 20 overs, took 12 wickets at a tremendous average of 11.66. Obed McCoy also shined against the Australians claiming 4 wickets for 26 runs in the 1st T20 match as he swung the pendulum to a victory. However, he battled injury for the rest of the international season but did return for the CPL to take 6 wickets in just 3 matches.
Rampaul earned this first call-up since 2015 because of his brilliant performance in the CPL where he picked up 19 wickets.
The surprise pick that I question is that of Oshane Thomas. He only featured in two T-20s in 2021 against Australia where he picked up only 1 wicket for 59 runs. He also had an average CPL Tournament where he picked up 6wickets in 7 matches. I believe Odean Smith would have been a better pick because he picked up 18 wickets in the CPL.
Another option would have been to select Cottrell for the 15-man squad instead of the reserve because he will likely take more wickets and be more economical than Thomas. The pitches in the subcontinent are also notorious for providing spin and I wonder if the selectors will rue not selecting Sunil Narine who misses out because of the same fitness criteria. Narine is a dangerous bowler but also has progressed to be a dangerous pinch-hitting batsman in this format.
However, the team has Akeal Hosein as a spinner in reserve for Walsh Jr. In 2021, he has picked up 14 wickets in 9 ODIs and is a good option in a backup role.
The former wicketkeeper-batsman, Deryck Murray, recently stated on the Mason and Guest radio program that the “West Indies are undoubtedly going to be the best team to watch.” He went on to state, “I’m not sure if they’ll be the best team to support, but every moment of every game they play is going to be exciting.”
I agree with his assessment that this team will entertain but with all the talent and the necessary application, their goal should be to win it all.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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