“[…] Shai Hope: batsman/wicketkeeper. My first surprise selection. Easily among the best batsmen in the West Indies at the moment; can accumulate without offering chances, stabilises the middle overs…”
Ken Jaikaransingh, who rarely missed a day of Test cricket at the Oval when the WI were still the WINdies, selects his dream West Indies Team, as Wired868 continues its look forward to the T20 Cricket World Cup:
When Earl Best, my former captain at Maple, invited me to assume the role of sole selector for the West Indies squad for this year’s T20 World Cup, I hesitated somewhat. I was well aware not only of the 10,000 other ‘sole selectors’ there are out there. I was also acutely aware of how often I had myself thrown a few brickbats at officially appointed selection committees over the years.
Often, it also occurred to me, regional and other insularities preclude a detached look at the requirements involved. But I finally made up my mind to give it a shot.
So in considering the composition of the squad, I looked principally at the following seven factors:
1. The probable playing conditions in Oman and the UAE, where the tournament will be held, and the optimum balance of players given these conditions. Pitches are expected to be slow and sluggish, offering little assistance to any fast bowlers who are not of the highest quality. They will have low bounce, and favour pace off the ball as well as spin.
2. The overall fitness of the players selected, given the number of possible matches to be played.
3. Flexibility of playing positions, meaning that players can be rotated in both batting and bowling sequence depending on the match situation.
4. Fielding strength: in a T20 game, an inferior fielder is a liability.
5. Player flexibility: a player should ideally be able to contribute meaningfully in a second area if needed.
6. Track record in competitions of this nature, with an eye to consistency of performance, appreciation of the role assigned in the team, and impact potential.
7. The critical group stage, where only two will qualify from Group One, and our competition there will include England, Australia and South Africa.
It will come as no surprise to anyone, I suspect, that the first 11 were the easiest to nominate. The challenge came with the additional four required for the 15-man touring party, and then the three reserves.
So, given the parameters considered above, here is my selected squad:
Lendl Simmons: opener. A proven performer, if sometimes too impatient. Good fielder.
Evin Lewis: opener. Devastating on his day, capable of the measured innings if demanded. Excellent fielder.
Shai Hope: batsman/wicketkeeper. My first surprise selection. Easily among the best batsmen in the West Indies at the moment; can accumulate without offering chances, stabilises the middle overs.
Shimron Hetmyer: middle-order batsman. Capable of much more than he has been producing recently; too talented to be omitted. Good fielder.
Nicholas Pooran: wicketkeeper/batsman. Also brilliant outfielder. Like Hetmyer, he should be producing more consistently, but he cannot be omitted.
Kieron Pollard: batsman/slow medium pace. Apart from his destructive batting, his bowling as well as his captaincy will be crucial elements in the outcome of this tournament.
Jason Holder: bowler/batsman. He has the ability to adapt his bowling to the required conditions, and his batting is a middle/lower–order plus.
Fabian Allen: bowler/batsman. Useful left-arm spin, destructive batting and brilliant fielding. An essential inclusion.
Andre Russell: bowler/batsman. His batting has deteriorated to become little more than slogging of late, but on his day he can destroy any bowling attack. Excellent fielder.
Dwayne Bravo: bowler/batsman. Still continues to be extremely useful as a deceptive bowler. Useful late-order batsman, brilliant fielder.
Obed McCoy: bowler. His bowling arsenal will be especially useful on the surfaces expected to be used.
The additional four required to flesh out the squad are:
Hayden Walsh Jr: bowler. Will be best against the batsmen in the Group stage, I suspect, but will also be useful against the Asian countries—if he maintains discipline in line and length. Brilliant fielder.
Akeal Hosein: bowler. Useful left-arm spin and late-order batting. Good fielder.
Alzarri Joseph: bowler. While the playing surfaces may not favour his pace, we need at least one genuine fast bowler in the squad to be used as required.
Kyle Mayers: another of my surprise choices. He is an aggressive batsman and a useful slow-medium pacer, ideally suited to the expected conditions.
And finally my three reserves:
Sheldon Cottrell: bowler. Has been expensive of late, and too often provides gift balls to opposing batsmen. But he wins out over Jayden Seales because of his considerable experience at the international level.
Darren Bravo: out of form for some time, but required to provide stability in the middle order; He has shown in the CPL that he does have the ability to accelerate the scoring as well if required. Very good against spin.
Chris Gayle: Batsman/bowler. Offers a right-handed, slow bowling option that may be needed against left-handed batters; is an opening or middle-order batting option although his returns are likely to be inconsistent. This was a difficult choice and I suspect he might not take lightly to not being in the original 15, perhaps even opting out, in which case Kevin Sinclair and Roston Chase come up for consideration, primarily as right-handed purveyors of orthodox spin.
Gayle’s returns have been inconsistent, he is indisposed to rotation of the strike, he isn’t mobile in the field, and his bowling is sometimes too generous to opposing batters. Nevertheless, the squad needs a right–arm slow bowler (I wouldn’t call him a spinner) to deploy against left-handers if necessary; the other options (Chase, Sinclair) also didn’t quite have the experience in this format that he has although I think Chase does merit a closer look.
The above 18-man squad selection provides potentially four opening batsmen, (1, 2, 3, 18), five potential middle-order batsmen (3, 4, 5, 17, 18), five fast-medium bowlers (7, 9, 11, 14, 16), seven batting/bowling all-rounders (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 18), four spin bowlers (8, 12, 13, 18) and two wicket-keepers (3, 5).
So there we have it. If each member plays to his full potential, we ought to be very competitive, perhaps even emerging once more as winners
West Indies Squad:
Starting XI: Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Obed McCoy.
Squad #12-15: Hayden Walsh Jr, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers.
Reserves: Sheldon Cottrell, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle.