Farewell Harper, welcome Sherfane! McWatt and ‘Reds’ suggest 15 WI players to new CWI selectors

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“[…] Assuming everyone is fully fit and in sufficiently good form, if the 2022 World Cup 15-member squad were to be picked today, there would be at least eight players who would be considered by most to be automatic selections.

“Discounting Kieron Pollard’s participation in any possible manner, the referenced eight would then be Nicholas Pooran as captain, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Akeal Hosein and Obed McCoy…”

Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt and veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira celebrate exit of CWI lead selector Roger Harper and suggest a 15-man T20 squad to take West Indies forward:

Photo: Guyanese batsman Sherfane Rutherford, 23, has been touted as a possible inclusion in the West Indies team.
So far, he has played four T20I innings with a high score of 26 and an average of 10.75.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has presented all Caribbean cricket fans and followers, ourselves included, with a most welcome Christmas present. It has been announced that the Roger Harper-led selection panel’s contract will not now be renewed!

The decision was likely made in the wake of the widespread public uproar that followed the panel’s horrendous choices for the recent 2021 T20 World Cup and the resulting calls from numerous commentators, including us, for its immediate replacement.

The announcement effectively means that West Indies will have a new selection panel in charge of choosing its teams in the new year, the most important of which will be the final 15-member squad for the Australia-hosted 2022 World Cup.

In that regard, despite the 3-0 loss suffered by WI, the recently concluded Pakistan T20 series should now provide some very useful pointers towards the 2022 World Cup squad’s final composition.

Photo: West Indies stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran scored a career-best 64 in the third T20I against Pakistan at the Karachi National Stadium on 15 December 2021.
(Copyright AFP)

In terms of the panel itself, several months ago, we had suggested a reversion to the previous five-member format with Jeffrey Dujon as chair and Tony Gray, Lockhart Sebastian and Philo Wallace as members along with the coach. Should Wallace be unavailable, our suggested substitute would be Kenny Benjamin.

Assuming everyone is fully fit and in sufficiently good form, if the 2022 World Cup 15-member squad were to be picked today, there would be at least eight players who would be considered by most to be automatic selections.

Discounting Kieron Pollard’s participation in any possible manner, the referenced eight would then be Nicholas Pooran as captain, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Akeal Hosein and Obed McCoy. That would leave only an additional seven players to be identified.

Before any such identification can be made, however, the West Indies’ selectoral brain trust would first have to decide as to what the ideal composition of the squad should be in relation to both the playing conditions and the quality of opposition likely to be encountered. Initially as part of the qualification process and, hopefully, subsequently in Australia itself during the actual World Cup.

Photo: Leg-spinner Akeal Hosein was the West Indies’ most economical bowler in Pakistan.

As Sir Andy Roberts has repeatedly suggested, it would be best for the selectors to decide on the squad’s final composition as quickly as possible to allow as much time as possible to be made available for it to gel completely as a team. The forthcoming five-match 22-29 January series against England should, therefore, provide the perfect opportunity for them to do so.

With Nicholas Pooran to continue as captain, the next biggest priority for the selectors would be to identify candidates—possibly two—from whom the best choice of the most suitable partner to open the innings with Lewis can be made. To that end, Brandon King’s return to form during the Pakistan Series was highly encouraging.

King’s series aggregate of 111 runs from three innings at a 37.00 average was the highest among all of the WI batsmen. Skipper Pooran, who scored 108 runs from his three innings, was the only other WI batsman to score over 100 runs in total during the series.

Although he only had scores of 1 and 31 in his two innings, Shai Hope’s batting was sufficiently encouraging to suggest that he should be given further opportunities to also stake his claims for inclusion as one of Lewis’ potential opening partners.

Photo: West Indies batsman Brandon King on the go against Pakistan in the December 2021 Homage Series.
(Copyright AFP)

Hope’s abilities behind the stumps would also, of course, address the need for inclusion of a back-up wicketkeeper in the squad.

Unfortunately, Darren Bravo was ill enough to miss the first two T20’s of the Pakistan series. His 27-ball 34 not out in the third game would, however, have given everyone concerned reasons to hope that he might now be finally back on the road to regaining his long-lost status as one of the region’s finest batsmen.

He should, therefore, be given as many opportunities as possible to re-establish his credentials in the new year.

Given the seamer-friendly conditions likely to be encountered in Australia, the remaining positions on the squad will likely be geared towards bowlers of the faster variety. Of these, there will certainly be a fair number of contenders.

In Pakistan, Odean Smith and Romario Shepherd each captured four wickets in three matches at an average of 28.50 and 31.25 respectively. Their respective economy rates of 11.40 and 11.53 were, however, high enough to give cause for concern.

Photo: West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd attacks a delivery during the December 2021 Homage Series in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, both were sufficiently impressive with their power-hitting as to merit further consideration as potential T20 World Cup final squad members.

The other two seamers WI used were Dominic Drakes (2/114 off 11 overs, avg, 57.00, econ. 10.36) and Oshane Thomas (2/98 off 9 overs, avg. 49.00, econ 10.88.) While Drakes, being in his debut series, can perhaps be somewhat excused, there should be no such consideration for the far more experienced Thomas, who continued to have issues with his run-up while also appearing to be overweight and unfit.

Hayden Walsh Jr’s continuing loss of form is also a cause for concern. He bowled just six of the eight overs that were available during the two matches he played. His returns were an unimpressive 1/60 off 6 overs, avg 60.0, econ 10.00.

England’s now well-established reputation as having batsmen who are rarely entirely comfortable against quality leg-spin should, however, allow Walsh to be given further opportunities to recapture his lost form during that upcoming series.

Photo: West Indies wrist-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr took 5/39 in the first ODI against Australia on 20 July 2021.
(via CWI Media)

Whoever they may be, the new WI selection panel will certainly have much to consider and a fairly large pool of viable candidates to choose from. As a means of providing the best possible level of support for the selectors’ eventual choices, for its part CWI must also seriously consider the now obvious need for changes to be made to the Phil Simmons-led coaching cadre.

Simmons himself may be protected from immediate dismissal by CWI’s somewhat hasty provision of a four-year contract, the expiry date for which is October 2023. There should, hopefully, be no such safety net for Monty Desai and Roddy Estwick as the team’s current batting and bowling coaches. Their glaring inadequacies have been sufficiently obvious to warrant their immediate replacements.

In a previous article, we had suggested Desmond Haynes as a potential replacement for Simmons as head coach. Given the apparent security of the Simmons’ tenure, Haynes should perhaps be drafted as Desai’s replacement as batting coach.

Franklyn Stephenson would still be our first choice as bowling coach, with Samuel Badree as his assistant to work specifically with the spinners.

Photo: Former West Indies T20 star spinner Samuel Badree is recommended as a WI spin coach by Tony McWatt and Reds Perreira.

The year 2021 has undeniably been an annus horribilis for West Indies cricket, certainly in terms of the continuing overly disappointing performances in each of international cricket’s current formats.

CWI’s announcement that there will now be a new selection panel in the new year is, however, a very positive first step towards a much-improved 2022!

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  1. I agree with the comment that CWI must eat Phil Simmons’ contract. It’s getting from bad to worse. Yes, Harper’s team made some strange selections and tried to justify them with CPL stats but Simmons I’m sure is on the panel too. He needs to go. The standards are too low.
    As head coach, he sets the tenor and the tone. The buck stops with him. I’m sure he must have known that the Australian team that visited the WI recently was just a bunch of tryouts mixed in with some regulars who needed match practice. While beating them in a couple of games is commendable, we were promptly brought back to reality by the South Africans. We’ve gone from barely competing to non-competitive.
    Just clean house and start anew. What have we got to lose? We are already losing.

  2. Harper abused his authority, acting like “I am the boss.”
    Men like him Will sink West Indies cricket in deeper disasters .

  3. Going back to the old selectors is a mark of old thinking; it’s like putting new wine in old pigskin.
    The new selectors should be Sammy, Sarwan and . Please don’t go back to those tired old men.
    Let’s be brave and make bold moves.

  4. Earl Best

    In consecutive paragraphs, we find this: “Assuming everyone is fully fit and in sufficiently good form, …”

    “Discounting Kieron Pollard’s participation in any possible manner, …”

    Surely that requires explanation? If Pollard is “fully fit and in sufficiently good form,” he cannot earn a place in the 15? Or should not? On what grounds? That the WI performed pathetically in the last World Cup under his leadership?


  5. When there are so many talented and experienced former WI players why does CWI look outside of the region for coaches? Why are selectors chosen from players with a mediocre track record? Some of the best former players are not being considered as either as a coach or a selector.

  6. CWI must eat Phil Simmons contract. Twenty one (21) more consecutive months of Phil Simmons is much too long. Big idiots who agreed and signed a four-year contract must also be removed. Big idiots must be replaced with responsible yearly performance contracts with opt and termination clauses as per series reviews.

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