The five youngest players in the West Indies ‘A’ team that swept all three matches against Zimbabwe in their recent short series in Grenada have been placed in the West Indies Cricket Board’s new High Performance Centre (HPC) in Barbados rather than included in the squad of 14 for the tour of Bangladesh May 2-25.
Chairman Clyde Butts explained yesterday that he and co-selectors Robert Haynes and Raphick Jumadeen felt that the day-to-day attention they would receive at the HPC would more benefit Brendan Bess, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder at this stage of their development.
The HPC, located at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus, is scheduled to open on May 9, Butts said. “These are all young, very promising players just starting their careers,” he noted. “I can understand if they’re disappointed to have missed out on this tour but we have given priority to what we believe to be the best course for them right now.”
Brathwaite, the prolific 17-year-old opening batsman, wicket-keeper Dowrich and six foot, seven inch fast bowler Holder, all of Barbados, were outstanding members of the West Indies team that finished third in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January.
Brathwaite’s entry into HPC may also be delayed as he is presently preparing for CXC examinations.
Guyanese Bess and Trinidadian Gabriel are two tall fast bowlers of genuine pace but limited experience.
They have been replaced by six players with international experience – opener Adrian Barath, left-hand batsmen Darren Bravo and Brandon Nash, fast bowlers Gavin Tonge and Lionel Baker and wicket-keeper Chadwick Walton.
The Bangaldesh tour comprises a three-way 50-overs-an-innings series involving the Bangaldesh and South Africa ‘A’ teams and two four-day matches against Bangladesh ‘A’.
It coincides with the ICC Twenty20 World Champion-ship and the first three ODIs of the South Africa tour of the Caribbean that follows Butts said it would provide preparation for players needed for the three home Tests against South Africa in late June, necessitating changes for the ‘A’ team’s tour of England and Ireland June 20-July 8.
Bravo, Tonge and Baker all played in the official ODIs and Twenty20 internationals against Canada and Ireland in the Jamaica Festival earlier this month while Barath was engaged in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Nash’s last match for the West Indies was the final Test against Australia in Perth in December when he scored 44 and 65. He averages 39.31 in 12 Tests since returning in 2007 from Australia to Jamaica, birthplace of his parents.
Travis Dowlin, the 33-year-old Guyana batsman who made his belated international debut last year, has been retained as captain.
Barath, 19, the youngest West Indian to score a hundred on Test debut with his 104 against Australia in Brisbane last November, has been appointed vice-captain.
It is the first time he has been elevated to a leadership position in any West Indies team.
“We’re keen to give those we believe have leadership qualities early experience of that responsibility where we can,” Butts said.
“Barath is one in that category. We’ll probably rotate the role in the ‘A’ team as we identify others,” Butts added.