West Indies head coach Phil Simmons reiterated the Cricket West Indies (CWI) will not “beg” anyone to represent the regional team, as questions persist about the absence of experienced practitioners like Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis, and Andre Russell.
The Maroon Men face New Zealand today in Kingston, Jamaica for the first of three T20 Internationals, which will be their last international matches before the CWI Selection Panel names its team for the 2022 ICC T20 Cricket World Cup.
Unsurprisingly, all three players were absent in Kingston—along with Oshane Thomas and Fabian Allen. None have represented West Indies this year, while Narine has not played for the West Indies since 6 August 2019.
Simmons and CWI men’s lead selector Desmond Haynes claimed that, while Sheldon Cottrell and Roston Chase are injured, the others made themselves unavailable for a variety of reasons.
“It hurts—there’s no other way to put it,” said Simmons. “But what can you do? I don’t think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent West Indies, you will make yourself available.”
Haynes, a former West Indies legend, said Russell, an explosive allrounder who remains a hot ticket in the limited overs franchise game, “hasn’t made himself available”. And he said Lewis, a swashbuckling opener in the T20 and ODI format, failed to complete a fitness test that the CWI arranged for him during his IPL stint with Lucknow Super Giants earlier this year.
“I will love everyone to play for West Indies,” said Haynes. “[…] But you must realise that the guys have options now, and if guys are choosing other franchises in front of West Indies, then we have to pick from who is available to us.
“Life has changed, in that people have the opportunities to go to different places—and if they choose that over West Indies, that’s just how it is.”
Other than the current pool of players, Haynes said the selectors will look inwards at the CPL for reinforcements, rather than in the foreign competitions where the more high profile West Indies players compete.
The CPL runs from 1 September to 1 October. The CWI will then select its World Cup squad for two final warm-up matches against Australia on 4 and 7 October before their opening competitive match against Scotland on 17 October.
“If there is a competition that is run by the West Indies [and] somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection,” said Haynes, in reference to the CPL. “That performance is very important to us, and we didn’t say that we have picked the World Cup team yet.
“So all the games that are going to be played leading up to the World Cup, we must take into consideration.”
Last year, Ravi Rampaul and Roston Chase both used fine showings in the CPL to force their way into the 2021 T20 Cricket World Cup squad, after earning the trust of the Roger Harper-led selectors.
Meanwhile, Simmons said the West Indies will continue to tinker with their current pool of players to find the right formula for the ICC competition.
“So far we have been experimenting,” said Simmons. “As we get to the end of these games, we’re going to have a better idea how we want them to be put in the order and how we want them to go in.
“We tend to judge it by overs and the situation—so in each game, it could be different. Shimron [Hetmyer] could bat higher and Pooran could bat lower.
“It just depends on the situation in the game.”
Current West Indies T20 squad: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Shamarh Brooks, Dominic Drakes, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy, Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Devon Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.