West Indies World Cup squad assessment

Tue, Apr 30, '19

by KRISSANIA YOUNG

Commentary

The West Indies, last week, became the final team to release their 15-man squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup, taking place in England & Wales, next month. With a change at the top of Cricket West Indies came the expectation that the ‘big names’ of the region’s game would waltz into the team, to contest the 12th edition of the tournament. On the contrary and to the genuine surprise of some, the core of the Jason Holder-led side was retained to follow the Bajan into his second tournament at the helm.

Sidestepping the audacity of those who were prattling about a change in captaincy, heading into the World Cup – on the premise that the ‘discarded’ players would have been included; we acknowledge that Holder, who – on his last trip to the 50-over competition – was indeed captain, returns as leader, this time around. The surprise inclusions to the squad are undoubtedly Fabian Allen and Shannon Gabriel, less so Nicholas Pooran. While, the eyebrow-raising omissions were that of veteran – Marlon Samuels and young Keemo Paul. The full squad reads: Jason Holder ©, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Carlos Brathwaite, Shimron Hetmyer, Oshane Thomas, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell and Fabian Allen.

A Learnt West Indies?

During England’s recent limited-overs series in the West Indies, we identified the weaknesses in this team as being;

  1. The inability to finish an innings,
  2. ineffective death-bowling and a lack of death-bowlers themselves,
  3. futile spinners – translating to a lack of wicket-taking options in the middle overs.
  4. As well as, imbalance, stemming from the absence of a top-order batsman which offers the captain the additional option of five or six decent overs on a consistent basis.
  5. While, finally stressing the need for this West Indian team and coaching staff to appreciate specialist batsmen and bowlers in their respective roles.

Following the assertions of these obvious short-comings, the West Indies proceeded to reveal their final fifteen; a team that, once again (being included in the last few series, only missing out through injury), included – arguably the world’s best finisher, at the moment – Andre Russell. However, it was a team void – frustratingly so – of their only recognized specialist death-bowler – Keemo Paul. As well as, the seemingly solitary batsman who facilitates the balance the team currently lacks by way of a top-order batsman who can bowl at least five overs – Marlon Samuels.

In an attempt to address the lack of wicket-taking slower options, the selection panel replaced leg spinner Devendra Bishoo, with the left-arm orthodox – Fabian Allen. While, Allen has been an unsung champion (with his boall) in the shortest format, one would be well within their rights to wonder just how the 23-year-old will fare in getting his form to transcend formats, that too, on the greatest stage of them all.

The Tale of the West Indies and the Two Spinners

Where the West Indies developed this infatuation with Bishoo and Nurse, is a mystery to us all. With a change in coaches, however, we’ve seen half of the duo dismissed and rightly so. It remains to be seen, though, if the new coaching staff will be inclined to stick to the script in attempting to fit Nurse and now Allen into the same XI or, if Caribbean fans will be treated to fairness by way of rotating the two – something we never saw from the previous coaching staff.

Final Thoughts

The inclusion of Trinidadian, Nicholas Pooran, uniquely provides the West Indies with a potential replacement, literally, anywhere in the batting line-up, as well as behind the stumps, should it be required. Therefore, the first choice wicket-keeper – Shai Hope – will have something to prove, especially given the horrid time he had on either side of the stumps versus England. With Shannon Gabriel’s inclusion in the squad being the very definition of ‘out of the blue’; it may be best to reserve comments until the completion of the upcoming tri-series. Finally, there has not been any shortage of opinions related to the squad – this is the Caribbean, after all – but, something we may all agree on is that the inclusion of both Samuels and Paul would immediately strengthen this squad.

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