Sunil Narine will return to international cricket next month after being named in the 15-man World Cup squad which comprises five all-rounders, three specialist batsmen, four fast bowlers, two spinners and a wicketkeeper. Jason Holder who was named captain for the 5 match ODI series versus South Africa, has retained his position but Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were surprisingly left out by the Clive Lloyd-led selection panel.
Also making a return is Darren Bravo, who had opted out of the Test series for personal reasons and wasn’t part of the ODIs scheduled to follow. Fast bowler Kemar Roach, who sustained an ankle injury in the Centurion Test and had to return home, found a place in the 15 as well.
“I believe we have selected a very good team which will do West Indies proud at the World Cup,” Lloyd said via a WICB media release. “We have a good mixture of some good seasoned players and some good youngsters who will fly the West Indies flag in Australia and New Zealand. If they play to their potential I am quite sure we will do very well. I have really high hopes in this team – I believe they can do something special. We have the talent and if we can play to our potential we have a very good chance of lifting that trophy.”
Narine’s return will come as a huge boost for West Indies. A proven match-winner, he was ranked No. 2 on the ODI and T20 rankings when his action was reported as suspect in consecutive matches during the Champions League Twenty20 last September. As a result, Narine missed out on playing in the final for Kolkata Knight Riders, who lost to Chennai Super Kings.
Even though Narine’s citation in the CLT20 did not affect his chances of bowling in international cricket since he was only excluded from doing so in tournaments managed by BCCI. But Lloyd had indicated displeasure at the scrutiny when West Indies arrived in India last October and withdrew Narine from that tour, which was discontinued after the West Indies players pulled out after the fourth ODI due to contractual disputes.
According to WICB, Narine had chosen to redevelop himself and considering that he has been picked, the selectors must be convinced that he has made the required adjustments. It will be Narine’s first World Cup as he made his ODI debut only in December 2011.
Although Lloyd made a general comment on the make-up of the squad, he did not speak on why Bravo and Pollard were dropped. The two players, besides Darren Sammy were initially not part of the South Africa ODI series, but Sammy was later added and also got a place in the World Cup squad.
According to former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding, Bravo and Pollard were being punished by the WICB for influencing the strike during the Indian tour. The players’ legal counsel said his clients were being harassed. Marlon Samuels, who had insisted after the pull-out from the India tour that he wanted to finish the series, has been named the vice-captain and is the most experienced player in the squad after Chris Gayle.
The tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand from Feb 14 to March 29.
West Indies squad: Jason Holder (c), Marlon Samuels (vc), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor