The West Indies Cricket Board have announced the 15-men squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. The most interesting feature of it is the absence of Kieron Pollard despite his heroics during the ongoing IPL. Sunil Narine, struggling with a finger injury, also failed to return to the team.
But there was good news for fans of Andre Russell as he made it to the squad. The Jamaican all-rounder has been the most consistent performer in this year's IPL with the bat and his success ensured that the selectors couldn't ignore him. In other notable decisions, Marlon Samuels remains out of the team while Shannon Gabriel and Evin Lewis have been included.
Reasons for decisions
Both Pollard and Narine have been away from the West Indies ODI team since 2016. While the former continues to be a big draw in T20 leagues around the world, the latter has been struggling with a finger injury. Even without it though, he might have struggled to make the cut due to the lack of effectiveness in his bowling since remodeling of his action.
The other notable omission – Marlon Samuels – suffered from lack of form last year. The veteran right-hander was struggling to get big runs across formats and was unsurprisingly left out of the team.
Russell's inclusion is both surprising and unsurprising. He has been scoring prolifically but may not play a big role with the ball. On the other hand, the return of Evin Lewis was along expected lines as his replacement in the ODI series against England, John Campbell, failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Shannon Gabriel's impressive performance in the Tests against West Indies made him almost a certainty despite the fast bowler missing the one-day series against England due to a ban.
West Indies' 15-member World Cup squad: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (WK), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, Andre Russell, Jason Holder (C), Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Oshane Thomas
Other members of the team
The rest of the team is along expected lines. Carlos Brathwaite remains in the team even though he hasn't achieved the sort of success expected after his heroics in the 2016 World T20 final against England. Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen are two exciting young talents in the squad. Both are yet to make a big mark in international cricket. While Pooran would be a back up keeper batsman for Shai Hope, Allen could be tried out as a part-time spinner.
Talking of spinners, West Indies have picked only one specialist – Ashley Nurse. The bulky off-break bowler is the latest among a list of tweakers the Caribbean side have tried in the last couple of years in 50-over format and has done alright so far.
There are as many as five fast bowlers along with two medium-pace bowling all-rounders. Sheldon Cottrell's good performance against England earned him a spot in the team. The big setback for West Indies has been the injury to Alzarri Joseph during IPL which ruled him out of the tournament. In his absence, hopes would ride on Oshane Thomas to deliver the goods thanks to his pace.
The attack would be led by experienced Kemar Roach and he would be backed up by Shannon Gabriel and captain Jason Holder. With the skipper able to play as an all-rounder, West Indies may well pick two more fast bowlers in the final XI.
After their brilliant Test series win against England and a spirited performance in the ODI series that followed against the same opposition, hopes are high from the Caribbean side. Even making it to the semis would be regarded a major achievement for the Holder-led team.
Let's look at the final XI that West Indies are likely to field at the start of the tournament.
Expected XI: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (WK), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Jason Holder (C), Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel