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T2021 W/C: Why Roston, Rutherford and Rampaul are giving WI selectors nightmares

“[…] The bowling surprise of the 2021 CPL to date has been Ravi Rampaul. Making his return to the CPL after several years of absence, Rampaul has so far led the defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders’ bowling with 13 wickets captured at a paltry 10.84 average, and at an economy rate of 7.29.

“With the likes of Chris Gayle, 41; Dwayne Bravo DJ, 37; Lendl Simmons, 36; Kieron Pollard, 34; Sunil Narine, 33; Andre Russell, 33; and Sheldon Cottrell, 33; all now being considered—if not already selected, despite their advancing age—by virtue of his performances to date, the 34-year-old Rampaul must surely have added his name to the list of those in contention for 2021 T20 World Cup selection…”

Photo: Veteran TKR pacer Ravi Rampaul.
(via CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

Veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira, who made his broadcast debut at the 1971 West Indies vs India Test series, and Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt, son of late former West Indies and Guyana wicketkeeper Clifford ‘Baby Boy’ McWatt, consider the issues weighing on the minds of the West Indies selectors, as Wired868 continues its look ahead to the T20 Cricket World Cup:

The 2021 edition of the Hero CPL started on Thursday 26 August, with all matches being played at Warner Park in St Kitts due to the continuing effects of the ongoing Covid pandemic, and is now well under way.

The added significance of this year’s tournament, now in its eighth edition after its inaugural 2013 season, is that it was supposed to have offered the West Indies selectors, Roger Harper and his panel, a final opportunity to look at the performances of players under consideration for inclusion in the West Indies 15-member squad for the October 17 to November 14 ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.

As opposed to providing Harper and co with clear-cut confirmation of their seemingly pre-ordained choices and a few additional options for consideration, however, the CPL matches played to date may now have spawned more questions than answers.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Shane Rutherford raises his bat after scoring a half-century against Barbados Royals in CPL T20 action at Warner Park on 26 August 2021.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

Prior to the start of this year’s tournament, WI had completed 12 of an initially scheduled 15 T20 matches, subsequently reduced to 14, again as a result of Covid-related issues. Based on actual performances in those completed matches, the following appeared to have emerged as WI likely preferred World Cup starting XI:

1.Evin Lewis, 2.Lendl Simmons, 3.Shimron Hetmyer/Chris Gayle, 4.Nicholas Pooran (wkpr), 5.Kieron Pollard (captain), 6.Jason Holder, 7.Andre Russell, 8.Fabian Allen, 9.Dwayne Bravo, 10.Hayden Walsh Jr, 11.Obed McCoy.

The ICC’s specification that each of the 16 participating teams will only be allowed to select 15-member tournament squads from which their final playing XIs will have to be chosen will have left the West Indies selectors with only three remaining places to decide upon.

The established Tournament Guidelines do, however, also allow for the participating teams to determine how many player reserves they would like to have included within their total squad allocations of players and support staff.

Again, based on the evidence provided by the preceding T20 matches, the considerations for the three remaining positions appeared to be revolving around the following:

Photo: St Lucia Kings wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher (left) tries to take a catch off GAW batsman Nicholas Pooran while team-mate Roston Chase looks on during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, Saint Kitts on 2 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

1. The back-up/wicket-keeper; 2. A third spinner and 3. An extra all-out, shock attack, genuinely quick pace bowler. The apparent leading contenders would have been Andre Fletcher/Shai Hope; Akeal Hosein/Sunil Narine and Sheldon Cottrell/Oshane Thomas respectively.

In terms of newly emerging contenders for any of the 15 available spots, after the first 14 matches had been played and at the time of the CPL’s 3 September second break, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots’ Sherfane Rutherford, Jamaica Tallawahs’ Kennar Lewis and possibly St Lucia Patriots’ Roston Chase were the only three players who by their performances seemed to be putting their hands up for the selectors’ consideration.

Rutherford scored three half-centuries in his first three innings and, after six matches, had amassed an aggregate of 176 runs at an average of 58.66.

After his first four innings, the burly Lewis’ statistics were equally impressive: 160 runs at an average of 40, including one half-century. For his part, in his first five innings, Chase had amassed 190 runs at an average of 63.33, with one half-century.

Photo: St Lucia Kings batsman Roston Chase (right) hits to leg for six while GAW wicket-keeper Nicholas Pooran looks on during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, Saint Kitts on 2 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

While the performances of Rutherford, Lewis and Chase would have registered on the radar screens of Harper & co, their presence would have drawn far less attention than those of some of the aforementioned, pre-ordained ‘sure picks’!

Of these, the greatest source of concern would be Simmons’ glaringly obvious and horrendous loss of form! As an opening batsman for the Trinbago Knight Riders, after five innings, Simmons has tallied an appalling 46 runs at a most miserly average of 9.20!

Chris Gayle’s abysmal returns to date—only 68 runs from three completed innings at an average of 22.66—will certainly also have reignited the intense debate over the merits of his inclusion to the squad. His having appeared in only three of the Patriots’ six matches played to date will also have raised further questions about his fitness.

As the supposedly pre-ordained number 6 in the anticipated West Indies World Cup final XI, Jason Holder’s 2021 CPL batting stats to date are, unbelievably, even worse than Simmons’ or Gayle’s: 44 runs from five completed innings at an average of 8.80.

Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder appeals during the Second T20I against Pakistan on 31 July 2021.
(via CWI Media)

Holder’s performances with the ball haven’t been that great either. Only three wickets captured from 18 overs at a whopping average of 54.33 and at an alarming economy rate of 9.05.

Holder’s worrying bowling statistics should not now be the only source of concern for Harper & co. After having bowled only four overs in as many matches in this year’s CPL, Walsh, along with Obed McCoy, an indisputable star performer in the previously played T20 matches, was wicket-less.

Overall, perhaps as a direct result of the relatively small size of Warner Park, the solitary CPL venue, the majority of the aforementioned, anticipated, West Indies T20 World Cup bowlers have been recording relatively high economy rates. To date, in addition to the previously mentioned bowling stats of Holder and Walsh, Dwayne Bravo has captured eight wickets at an economy rate of 9.49; Obed McCoy six at 10.14; Andre Russell four at 9.07 and Fabian Allen four at 7.88

Of the bowlers who also appear to be in contention for spots on the squad, the statistics for Hosein and Narine are the most impressive to date. six wickets apiece at economy rates of 4.50 and 4.95 respectively.

Photo: St Lucia Kings captain Faf du Plessis (right) walks off the field after being dismissed by TKR bowler Sunil Narine during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts on 31 August 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Among the pacers, Sheldon Cottrell’s stats are five wickets at an 8.18 economy rate. For his part, Oshane Thomas, bowling as quickly as ever before, has taken four wickets at a comparatively impressive 6.58 economy rate.

The bowling surprise of the 2021 CPL to date has been Ravi Rampaul. Making his return to the CPL after several years of absence, Rampaul has so far led defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders’ bowling with 13 wickets captured at a paltry 10.84 average, and at an economy rate of 7.29.

With the likes of Gayle, 41; Bravo DJ, 37; Simmons, 36; Pollard, 34; Narine, 33; Russell, 33; and Sheldon Cottrell, 33; all now being considered—if not already selected, despite their advancing age—by virtue of his performances to date, the 36-year-old Rampaul must surely have added his name to the list of those in contention for 2021 T20 World Cup selection.

That being the case, perhaps this year’s West Indies 15-member World Cup squad’s visit to the UAE should simply be viewed as predominantly a final farewell excursion!

Photo: TKR pacer Ravi Rampaul (centre) celebrates a wicket during CPL 2021 action against the St Lucia Kings.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

The squad is expected to be announced on or before September 9, by which time eight more matches should have been played after the Friday 3 September second break.

Plenty of opportunity for players to still stake their respective claims for a seat on the flight to the UAE!

Selectors’ starting XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer/Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wkpr), Kieron Pollard (captain), Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jr, Obed McCoy.

Selectors’ squad #12-15/Reserves: Andre Fletcher/Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein/Sunil Narine, Sheldon Cottrell/Oshane Thomas.

Selectors’ spoilers: Sherfane Rutherford, Kennar Lewis, Roston Chase, Ravi Rampaul.

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