ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – West Indies selectors have recalled experienced batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan for next month’s limited overs tour of Australia, ending the stylish right-hander’s protracted exile from the regional squad.
The 32-year-old has not played for West Indies in nearly 19 months owing to poor form and fitness, and a strained relationship with the regional authorities, but joins the 15-man squad that leaves the Caribbean next week.
As expected, Darren Sammy will lead the unit which includes young uncapped Barbadian seamer Jason Holder who also toured Bangladesh but failed to make his debut then.
The tour runs from January 29 to February 13 and comprises five One-Day Internationals and a single Twenty20.
Sarwan is an immensely talented batsman who has played 173 One-Day Internationals scoring 5 644 runs at an average of 43.41, but has not played since June 2011.
“I’m happy to be back in the team. Obviously I’ve been out for a while, but it feels really good to be back representing the West Indies. I am really looking forward to this tour and I’m confident things will go well for us in Australia,” Sarwan said.
“As a team we like the ball when it comes onto the bat so we should enjoy the conditions in Australia. I have played there a few times and we have other experienced members of the team who have played there as well.
“The team has been playing some good cricket recently so I will just fit in. I am an experienced player at the international level and will look to play my part and make a contribution in anyway I’m called upon.”
He added: “I am hitting the ball pretty well. It’s a matter of me trying to get myself in and settle down and look to get big scores for the team. I want to get scores and help the team to win matches.”
His selection comes just several months after he criticised “certain individuals” in the West Indies management for damaging his self confidence. “Mentally I was broken down, not from the stress of playing, it’s just certain individuals have drained me mentally,” Sarwan told BBC Sport while playing for English county Leicestershire last year.
He pledged his immediate future to the county, pointing out they had invested in him when he was in the “dust being kicked by my own people”. He subsequently signed a new two-year deal keeping him at the club until the end of the 2014 season and was last month named captain.
Late last year, however, he made himself available for the tour of Bangladesh but was overlooked.
His recall will add precious experience to the West Indies top order which will be missing in-form stroke-maker Marlon Samuels who is presumably injured, after being struck in the face while playing in the Australian Big Bash League two weeks ago.
The release from the West Indies Cricket Board made no mention of the Jamaican who apparently has been recovering in Australia.
Devon Thomas has again been chosen ahead of Test wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, after also getting the nod for last December’s limited overs tour of Bangladesh.
Holder, meanwhile, has gained favour with selectors a few months after touring Bangladesh as a replacement for injured fast bowler Tino Best.
West Indies open the tour with a fixture against a Ricky Ponting-led Prime Minister’s XI on January 29 in Canberra before heading to Perth for the first two ODIs.
SQUAD – Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice captain), Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Thomas, Tino Best Jason Holder, Sunil Narine.