In what can only be considered a bombshell selection and a backward step as well, the West Indies selectors have retained opening batsman Devon Smith in the 13-man side named for the opening test match against Bangladesh starting tomorrow.
Smith, who scored heavily in the regional series and was recalled by Cricket West Indies selectors for the just concluded series against Sri Lanka, had scores of 7, 20, 61, 1, 2 and 0 in the drawn three test series for a dismal average of 15.16 in six innings, where his runs scored totaled 91.
Despite his obvious failure, the selectors have stuck to their guns and included him against Bangladesh obviously hoping for him to come good against much weaker opposition.
In fact, the selectors have given the top five batsmen a vote of confidence.
“The selection panel expects to see a greater effort from the top five batters and see them return to the focus and discipline we know they are capable of in the upcoming series against Bangladesh,” a release from Cricket West Indies stated.
Jason Holder will return as captain while Guyanese all-rounder Keemo Paul who was called up to the side for the third and final test but did not play remains in the side.
Paul, who replaced countryman Shimron Hetmyer will be joined by Hetmyer and Devendra Bishoo as the three Guyanese in the side while from the Sri Lanka series, Jamar Hamilton has been omitted.
According to a Cricket West Indies release, Holder along with teammates, Shane Dowrich and Shannon Gabriel all had upward movement in Test-Player rankings since the series against Sri Lanka. Holder is now 54th in batting and is 6th in the all-rounder’ list and a career-best 25th among bowlers, Dowrich is 51st among the batsmen and Gabriel is now at 12th place following his man-of-the-match 13 for 121, giving the 3rd best haul ever by a West Indies bowler.
They are also hoping that the West Indies wins the series which would see the regional side rise in the ICC test rankings.
With Smith in the side Guyanese Hetmeyer will again be relegated to the 12th man duties.
He did not play against Sri Lanka despite being
included in the side and was reportedly ill which forced him to miss selection for the third test against Sri Lanka which unintentionally gave Devon Smith another chance to fail and he of course did not disappoint.
Hetmeyer but returned for the warm up match where he cracked an unbeaten 123 for the CWI President’s XI against Bangladesh.
Another surprise selection is that of trundler Miguel Cummins who took three wickets, all of which came in one innings, going wicket less in the other five against the Sri Lankans.
West Indies, who were in a strong position to win the test series against Sri Lanka after winning the first and drawing the second, lost the final test and missed out on putting themselves in a strong position to move up further in the rankings.
The first ball bowls off at 10:00hrs at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua.
West Indies Squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Shane Dowrich, Keemo Paul, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Miguel Cummins, Roston Chase, Devendra Bishoo and Devon Smith.