BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Left-hander Narsingh Deonarine has been recalled after two years in the wilderness while out-of-form openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell have clinched spots in the 13-man West Indies squad announced early yesterday for the first Test against Australia.
The side will be led by Darren Sammy with young Barbados batsman Kirk Edwards appointed his deputy.
Fast bowler Ravi Rampaul, who played just one match in the first class championship because of injury and illness, has been recalled and joins fast bowlers Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach.
“As selectors, we felt the team did a very good job in the ODIs and T20s under the leadership of Darren Sammy, and we expect them to continue to show that same kind of fight and determination in the longer format,” said chairman of selectors Clyde Butts.
“It is never easy, and we know the Aussies will come hard at us, but we believe we have selected a squad that can do the job and make the people of the Caribbean proud. “Also, we are in the first phase of a long year of international cricket and success would be a key in the continued building of a fighting unit.”
Deonarine, who last played for West Indies against South Africa back in 2010, has been rewarded for a prolific first class season where he gathered 582 runs at an average of 44.76 and took 20 wickets with his gentle off-spin.
The 28-year-old has endured a sporadic international career since making his international debut seven years ago. He played four Tests in 2005 before being axed and had to wait another five years before another chance to wear Windies colours.
Recalled for the tour of Australia and a series against South Africa, two half-centuries in six innings was not enough to keep Deonarine in the side.
“Deonarine has been the leading batsman this season in the Regional Four-Day and has demonstrated his commitment and a new level of maturity,” Butts pointed out.
“We have not seen many big scores from the batsmen in this year’s competition, but he has played some very good innings for Guyana and also bowled very well coming onto the latter half of the tournament.
“We expect this same level of focus against the Aussies. He is sure to be an asset.”
The 19-year-old Brathwaite, meanwhile, has retained his place despite managing just one half-century in 13 innings for Barbados during the first class season.
He scored 62 against Guyana early last month but his last five innings has yielded just 90 runs. However, Brathwaite has three half-centuries in six Tests.
The left-handed Powell has also struggled for runs, with one half-century in his last 10 innings.
He was dropped from the Windies one-day side after scores of eight, nought, and 12 in the tripleheader against Australia in St Vincent last month, and his two subsequent innings for Leeward Islands in the four-day tournament served up just 29 runs.
Powell got 42 against the Australians for the WICB President’s XI on Monday but failed to score in the second innings of the three-day game which ended yesterday.
Stylish left-hander Darren Bravo will also enter the Test in a bad patch of form. He gathered 48 runs in five one-day innings against Australia, scored 12 in his only Twenty20 and failed with 13 and seven after returning to Trinidad and Tobago’s side for their first class semi-final against Barbados last weekend.
Bravo had also signed for Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League but is expected to now miss the first half of the tournament as he makes himself available for West Indies.
Batsman Marlon Samuels, however, is out of the Windies squad after leaving for the IPL where he will represent Pune Warriors.
He is one of several IPL-bound Windies players unavailable as opener Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine have all signed up for lucrative competition.
Butts remained confident the batting department would hold its own.
“We expect our batsman to perform well on their home pitches. We saw some good individual performances with the bat on the away tours late last year,” said Butts.
“We have kept faith with the players who did well in Bangladesh and India and we believe they will come good as a group. The bowling unit did very well for us all last year and we expect the same this year.”
There is no room for off-spinner Shane Shillingford, however, despite outstanding performances in recent weeks for Windward Islands in the first class tournament where he took 30 wickets in the last three rounds.
The first Test bowls off at Kensington Oval here Saturday.
SQUAD – Darren Sammy (captain), Kirk Edwards (vice-captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Fidel Edwards, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach.