The Cricket West Indies selection panel announced its 15-man team for the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup today, with opener Evin Lewis being the most eye-catching addition.
Lewis has not represented West Indies since the 2021 T20 World Cup, after appearing to rule himself out—according to chief selector Desmond Haynes and head coach Phil Simmons—by allegedly refusing to take a fitness test in the past 11 months.
However, with the Maroon Men struggling to find a decent opening partnership, Haynes recalled Lewis. It is uncertain whether the Trinidadian batsman has taken a fitness test.
“Someone like Evin Lewis, we all agree that he’s our best one-day cricketer, he’s done so well for us over the years,” Haynes told the commentator Ian Bishop, during CPL action between Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots today. “We had a meeting with him, and he’s committed to West Indies cricket—he told us that he’s committed to West Indies cricket, and I believe he should be given the opportunity.”
There were other surprise picks in the form of wicketkeeper batsman Johnson Charles and allrounders Yannic Cariah and Raymon Reifer.
Cariah, a 30-year-old Trinidad and Tobago Red Force leg-spinner, debuted for West Indies in the ODI series against New Zealand last month. He is uncapped in T20Is while the last of his four matches in the T20 format was six years ago in the 2016 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) competition.
Cariah, who was not contacted by any CPL team this season, is named ahead of wrist-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr.
“I think Yannic has impressed us from the time we picked him for the A team,” said Haynes. “[…] We’ve got a lot of confidence in him—we think that he’s bowling well enough that [he] can play in the T20 format. It’s a bit unfortunate that he’s not in the CPL [but] we have no control over that.
“We think that he is a guy who […] can do a job for us. I don’t think you can underrate his batting either.”
Ironically, Haynes advised Walsh to use the CPL to force his way back into the plans of the CWI selectors.
“When we look at consistency, we don’t feel that Hayden is consistent enough,” said the lead selector. “We don’t write off anybody, because Hayden is somebody we have invested in, and we believe that he still stands a chance of playing for the West Indies.
“We hope again that he is another one that will continue to do well in the CPL and give himself a chance to be selected.”
In the case of Charles and Reifer, both won places in the World Cup team on current form.
Charles’ last T20I was in December 2016. However, he is the second highest scorer in the 2022 CPL competition at present and he managed a blistering 87* from 59 balls on the weekend in a losing effort for St Lucia Kings against the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Charles is expected to be back-up to in-form West Indies limited overs captain Nicholas Pooran.
Meanwhile Reifer has starred with the bat for the Jamaica Tallawahs with 171 runs from four innings at an average of 57.00 and a strike rate of 143.69.
Reifer’s form meant there was no room for Romario Shepherd while Fabian Allen, who also skipped West Indies duties due to “personal issues” this year, missed out as well—having failed to dislodge Akeal Hosein.
Veteran Andre Russell, who also opted out of representing the regional team since the 2021 T20 World Cup, could not make a case for inclusion on form either. Haynes suggested that he was considered, despite his frequent international absences.
Russell’s top score from four innings in the ongoing CPL is 17.
“We had a meeting with Andre Russell earlier in the year,” said Haynes. “We’re still not convinced yet. He’s not performing as well as we would like to see him in the [CPL] competition.
“I think in the situation with Andre Russell, we’ve just decided to move on and look for someone who’s in form and doing well in the T20 format.”
Once more, veteran spinner Sunil Narine, according to Haynes, was not sufficiently interested in representing the West Indies. His last game for the Maroon Men was in 2019.
“Yes, again, the captain (Pooran) told me he’s reached out to Narine,” said Haynes, “but I’m not too sure he wants to play.”
West Indies team: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Yannic Cariah, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy, Raymon Reifer, Odean Smith.