Despite new-look the narrative remains for young West Indies

Tue, Nov 5, '19



Since the West Indies last contested a One-Day International (ODI), 83 days ago, the Caribbean side has undergone major surgery; which has seen them part ways with interim head coach Floyd Reifer, in preference of Phil Simmons. As well as, replacing limited overs captains—both Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite—with Kieron Pollard. As the men in maroon set out to tackle Afghanistan in a three-match ODI series (beginning Wednesday morning Caribbean time), they will do so having made six changes to the squad that was defeated 2-0 by India in August. The likes of John Campbell, Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Oshane Thomas, and Kemar Roach among those missing out. Cricket West Indies announced the following 15-man squad to travel to India to face Afghanistan: Kieron Pollard (c), Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph and Romario Shepherd.

Coach & Captain

Whether you were for or against the appointments of Phil Simmons and Kieron Pollard, the youthfulness of this West Indian team means that the narrative following their embarrassing display at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup remains—this is a young team that requires time. Yet, by the way that Pollard (as a captain) has been “built up” by sections of the media, fans and former players, it seems that the Trinidadian is expected to make an immediate impact on the team’s results. The dilemma then is, how much time do you give the core of this team with a 32-year-old new leader? Or will we suddenly begin to differentiate between the duties of a captain and the characteristics of an inexperienced team.

Shai Hope

The absence of Chris Gayle presents Shai Hope, once more, with the opportunity to open the innings for the West Indies. Hope, who averages close to 96 opening the innings for the Caribbean side, has accumulated four (of his six) centuries and three-half centuries in his eleven innings opening the batting on the international stage. Unfortunately for Hope, along with the many other changes in the WINDIES camp, it would be no surprise if  he was asked to hand over the gloves to Nicolas Pooran.

Hetmyer as a no. 3

If there is anything Shimron Hetmyer has proven, it is that the young Guyanese can bat anywhere in the middle-order. His four ODI centuries have come at no. 3, no. 4 and no. 5 (twice). And while many of us would have preferred to see the left-hander rested, seeing him in a team with Shai Hope as an opener leaves the assumption that young Hetmyer will be the next man in, at no. 3. Now, while Hetmyer’s decision-making and shot selection have often times been called into question, the fact that the selectors have chosen to stick by him at this moment, forces us to take the post-World Cup narrative approach with him—a young player that requires time.

Roston Chase’s role in this West Indies

We have spoken, several times, of the importance of a top-order/middle-order batsman who offers a steady 4 or 5 overs (a 6th bowler); the consequences of a lack thereof, the West Indies were made to suffer during this year’s 50-over World Cup. As the Caribbean side insisted on using Russell in this role, even requiring the unfit all-rounder to play the role of a 5th bowler at one point in time. The West Indies have since tried employing Chase in this role. The advantage of which, in this instance, being on the subcontinent, is that the West Indies would have already been looking to field two spinners. However, given that the 6th bowler is a spinner, the Caribbean side only has to sacrifice one quick, while still playing two slower bowlers.

Predicted XI: Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Nicolas Pooran (wk), Keiron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr.

The first One Day International between the West Indies and Afghanistan gets under way at the Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow at 4:30 am Eastern Caribbean time (3: 30 am Jamaica time) on Wednesday morning.

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