ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Successful Youth World Cup skipper Shimron Hetmyer and his Guyana Jaguars teammate Vishal Singh were poised for their first taste of international cricket after being picked in a 13-man squad to face Pakistan in the opening Test of the three-match series starting in Jamaica on Friday.
Selectors announced the squad yesterday, the final day of the three-day tour game against Pakistan in which the 28-year-old Singh hit an unbeaten 135 and the 20-year-old Hetmyer narrowly missed out on three figures with an attacking 97.
Left-hander Kieran Powell will also make his return to the longest form of the game after ending a self-imposed two-year break and subsequently turning out in recent three-match one-day series against England and Pakistan.
As expected, the squad will be led by all-rounder Jason Holder and includes the core of the group which lost to Pakistan in a three-Test series in the United Arab Emirates late last year but no room has been found for the experienced duo of Marlon Samuels or Darren Bravo.
“After winning our previous Test which was against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, the panel felt that we should stick as close as we possibly can to that squad,” chief selector Courtney Browne said.
“We have a young Test squad which was admirably led by Jason Holder during the last series and, though there are some noticeable absentees, we believe that the players will give a good account of themselves especially in their own backyard.”
He continued: “We are happy to be able to give a recall to Kieran Powell for one of the opening slots, although he did not have the best regional first-class season. He showed for the President’s XI that his experience can add value to our team.
“In addition, we have included two uncapped players, Shimron Hetmyer and Vishal Singh, with a view to exposing players that we believe have earned an opportunity to play for West Indies.”
The left-handed Hetmyer’s progression to the senior team was a quick one. He had a modest Under-19 World Cup with the bat last year but has plundered 496 runs in the Regional four-day championship with four half-centuries to force his way into the selection frame.
His breezy knock against Pakistan last weekend would have strengthened his claim.
Fellow left-hander Vishal, meanwhile, may consider himself somewhat fortunate, after a poor first class season that has seen him struggle with 317 runs at an average of 26.
However, his heavy scoring last season when he finished with 712 runs at average of 50 with three hundreds, coupled with a magnificent 161 against Sri Lanka A in Pallekele last October, worked in his favour.
The 28-year-old Powell, too, has had a less than stellar first class campaign with just 342 runs at an average of 28 but his prolific run in the Regional Super50 which led to his return to the ODI side, got the attention of selectors.
He was also convincing in the tour match against Pakistan with a half-century in either innings and with 21 Tests already to his name, he will bring much needed experience to the Windies squad.
West Indies, however, will find themselves short on experience once again as Samuels, who averages 32 from 71 Tests and the enterprising Bravo, who averages 40 from 49 Tests, have been overlooked.
Bravo has not played competitively since he was sent home from the one-day tour of Zimbabwe last November for a tweet deemed offensive to West Indies Cricket Board president, Dave Cameron. The board has remained palpably silent on the matter.
He was good enough to average 45 on the three-Test tour against Pakistan last year.
West Indies clash with the Pakistanis in the opening Test at Sabina Park.
SQUAD – Jason Holder (captain), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Vishal Singh.