“He’ll add value to the team…” Johnson Charles replaces Motie in WI W/Cup team

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Explosive top-order batsman Johnson Charles will represent West Indies in the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier this month, as he continues his unlikely return to One-Day International (ODI) action.

Charles, 34, was named by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel as the replacement for spinner Gudakesh Motie who “has not recovered from a lower back injury”. And, after a seven-year hiatus from the ODI game before the ongoing UAE series, the St Lucian star is now expected to help steer the Maroon Men into the 2023 Cricket World Cup.

West Indies batsman Johnson Charles hits a six during ICC Men’s T20 World Cup action against Zimbabwe at Bellerive Oval on 19 October 2022 in Hobart, Australia.
(Copyright Steve Bell – ICC/ ICC via Getty Images)

“When we discussed the replacement player, we looked at the possibility of another spinner in the squad,” lead selector Desmond Haynes told the CWI Media. “However, we felt it was better to go with Charles. He is experienced at the international level, he will add value to the team for what will be a very important tournament.

“He also has knowledge of the Zimbabwe conditions having played ODI matches there before, so we see him as the right man for the job at this stage.”

Haynes assured Motie that he will be back in the West Indies team, as soon as he is fit.

“We want to wish Motie the best as he continues his rehabilitation,” said Haynes. “He is one of the players who we expect to feature in West Indies cricket going forward, so we want to see him recover fully so he can participate when called upon.”

On 11 June, when the CWI selection panel named 15 players for the World Cup Qualifiers plus an additional seven players to deputise for the IPL-based players during a pre-tournament series against the UAE, Charles was not named in either group.

West Indies spinner Gudakesh Motie (right) bowls while India batsman Shubman Gill looks on during the first ODI against India at the Queens Park Oval on 22 July 2022.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

His omission was not especially surprising since he had not represented West Indies in the 50 over format for seven years. Although Haynes credited Charles’ knowledge of Zimbabwe as being a factor in his return, it was actually his performances there that saw him dropped in the first place.

Charles’ last four ODI outings were in Zimbabwe in November 2016 and his figures were (in reverse order): 0 (against Zimbabwe), 26 (against Sri Lanka), 19 (against Zimbabwe), and 2 (against Sri Lanka). At that stage, the talented batsman had gone 14 matches without a half-century and the selectors ran out of patience.

Incidentally, Sammy was appointed as West Indies coach one day after the selection of the ODI team for the Sharjah series and the World Cup Qualifiers. Sammy and Charles won two T20 Word Cup titles together as West Indies teammates, while Sammy cached Charles at CPL level with the St Lucia Kings.

Former West Indies captain and T20 World Cup winner Daren Sammy.
(Copyright Zee News)

The provisional suspension of batsman Devon Thomas, for alleged match-fixing, created a surprise vacancy in the team to face UAE, and Charles got the nod. And knocks of 24 and a match-winning 63 in the opening two ODIs were enough to elevate the veteran into West Indies’ full ODI squad—ahead of the likes of allrounders Odean Smith (26), Dominic Drakes (25) and Kavem Hodge (30).

West Indies will land in Harare on Saturday 10 June, where they will continue preparations for the 10-team tournament. They were drawn in Group A alongside hosts Zimbabwe, Nepal, Netherlands and the USA.

Each side will play the other teams in their group once with the top three from the groups progressing to the Super Six stage from Thursday 29 June to Friday 7 July. The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage.

All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group.

The final will be played at Harare Sports Club on Sunday 9 July, while both finalists progress to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran in action against England at Kensington Oval on 26 January 2022 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
(Copyright Gareth Copley/ Getty Images)

West Indies squad:

Shai Hope (captain), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Shamarh Brooks, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Johnson Charles, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd.

West Indies Match Schedule

(All matches start at 3am Eastern Caribbean time/ 2am Jamaica time)

Sunday 18 June: v USA at Takashinga Cricket Club

Thursday 22 June: v Nepal at Harare Sports Club

Saturday 24 June: v Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club

Monday 26 June: v Netherlands at Takashinga Cricket Club

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