Clyde Butts has delivered the news that the West Indies were dreading prior to the forthcoming Digicel Test series against England.
The chief selector anticipates that the West Indies’ only proven world-class all-rounder, Dwayne Bravo, still recovering from an operation on his left ankle, would not yet be fit enough to play in any of the four Tests.
He puts Bravo’s earliest possible return as the series of five One-Day Internationals, the first of which is in Guyana March 3.
“I spoke to Dwayne last week. He’s started to train about now and is hoping to be ready about the middle part of the England tour,” Butts said Friday in announcing the team for the first Test that starts in Jamaica February 4.
“He wants to start playing club cricket before he starts playing for Trinidad and Tobago so he can be fit and ready,” he added. “Probably we might see him in the one-dayers.”
Bryan Davis, the former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies opening batsman who is cricket manager at Queen’s Park, Bravo’s club in Port-of-Spain, reported that he had turned out for net practice for the first time last week but that the session lasted no more than quarter-hour.
“He’s naturally very keen to get back playing but it’s going to take time for him to get fully fit again,” Davis said.
The 25-year-old Bravo has been out of cricket since surgery on his chronic ankle problem last year.
He missed the Stanford Super Series matches in October and November, the regional one-day tournament in Guyana in November, the recent West Indies ODIs against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and the subsequent tour of New Zealand. His last match was the final ODI against Australia in St.Kitts July 6.
Without a comparable replacement, his absence has adversely affected the balance of the team.
His infectious enthusiasm and dynamism in the field has also been missed.
In 31 Tests since his debut against England in 2004, he has scored 1,833 runs, with two hundreds, at an average of 32.73, claimed 70 wickets at 39.58 each and held 30 catches.
With Dwayne absent, younger brother Darren, a left-handed batsman who turns 20 on February 6, has claimed the headlines with 97 against Barbados in Trinidad and Tobago’s opening match of the first-class season and 103, his maiden hundred, against the Windward Islands yesterday.
His turn will inevitably come, probably sooner rather than later. It is Dwayne that the West Indies miss most at present.