By Calvin Roberts
In Barbados compliments of: Igloo Ice cream, GT&T, P&P Insurance, Papi’s Supermarket, Oasis Water Company and Noble House Seafoods
After two tremendous regional first-class seasons with the bat where he has been Barbados’s most prolific run-scorer, opener Dale Richards has been given the call up by the West Indies selection panel for the first test against England.
Chairman of selectors Clyde Butts and his two compatriots Robert Haynes and Raphick Jumadeen, selected the team along with skipper Chris Gayle and coach John Dyson, who despite not being present in Barbados, was a part of the selection process via telephone.
From all indications, it is likely that the 32-year-old, right-handed Barbadian, who also bowls medium pace, will partner skipper Chris Gayle for the first test which starts on Feb.4.
Windward Islands opener Devon Smith, who scored a double century against Guyana in the opening round of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) four day competition has been recalled along with Trinidad and Tobago’s right-arm, leg-spinner Amit Jaggernauth.
Guyana’s Sewnarine Chattergoon and Leon Johnson, who were both members of the team that recently returned from New Zealand, failed to get a second chance, so to speak.
According to Butts, the team selected was given to the Cricket Development Officer of the WICB, who then gave them the “go ahead” to announce the team which is only for the first test.
The players who will not make the final 11 will be cleared to play for their respective countries in the regional four day competition.
“We don’t want the players to feel that they are in a comfort zone, and that’s why this team was selected for the first test only. It is up to the other players out there, to pressure these players with their performances,” Butts added.
“We have been having a problem with not only our opening partners for Chris (Gayle), as well as our number four and six positions. That’s the reason we have selected Devon Smith for this game, he has batted at number six for us before, and we are looking at the possibility of having him do so again.”
While the team was being selected Ryan Hinds was compiling 240 for Barbados against the Leeward Islands.
“With our present problems finding a compatible number six batsman, Ryan Hinds and Narsingh Deonarine are suitable candidates, but seriously, they need to uplift their game. Show us the selectors that they intend to play for the West Indies again,” said Butts.
He added:“We have picked Hinds in times past, but he has either being injured or opted not to play for personal reasons. Apart from that, both Hinds and Deonarine need to be fit to compete at the top. They would be perfect at number six for the West Indies. They have to pull themselves together.”
Another omission is that Barbadian fast bowler Kemar Roach whom many thought should have been in the team ahead of Jamaica’s Darren Powell.
“We would have loved to play Kemar in Abu Dhabi prior to the New Zealand tour, but he got there late due to visa problems. Apart from that, Darren has looked good in the test at Dunedin and we thought it best to give him another chance, it is up to him now.” A vice-captain was also announced and given to the WICB for ratification, whilst Suleiman Benn, Lionel Baker, Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor have all maintained their place in the team, along with dependable middle order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and his fellow Guyanese Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Meanwhile, talented all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will miss the test series but could appear for the Windies during the limited overs.
“I spoke to Dwayne and he told me he is looking at making a return sometime during the limited overs part of the series. He has resumed training this week and wants to play a few club games, as well as regional games for Trinidad and Tobago,” said Butts.
Butts disclosed that the team would not have any preparation camp when it was taken into consideration that they have just returned from the New Zealand tour and that some members of the team would have played in the current four day competition.
Butts also warned that measures would be put in place to improve the attitude and discipline of the players.
The 14 man squad reads: Chris Gayle, Xavier Marshall, Devon Smith, Dale Richards, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brendon Nash, Dinesh Ramdin, Amit Jaggernauth, Suleiman Benn, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Darren Powell and Lionel Baker.