Andre Russell’s Indian Premier League exploits deservingly earned him a place in the Jason Holder-led 15-member West Indies squad for the World Cup in England and Wales starting 30 May.
Russell has been in prime form for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and has single-handedly taken his side past the finish line in a few matches.
Russell last played ODI cricket in July 2018. He was recalled for his side’s last two ODIs against England in February, but injury ruled him out of the series. The 30-year old is currently engaged in the 2019 Indian Premier League, where he has lit up the tournament with the bat, averaging 65.33 with a strike-rate of 217.77.
Apart from Russell, the fast-bowling duo of Sheldon Cottrell and Shannon Gabriel also received call-ups, the latter having missed West Indies’ last ODI series, against England, due to a ban, while Kemar Roach and Oshane Thomas make up the rest of the pace attack. Nicholas Pooran looks set to take the spot behind the stumps, with Shai Hope covering as a back-up wicket-keeper.
However, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine have not picked in the squad.
Sunil Narine, the spinner whose previous ODI appearance came in 2016. He may require surgery on a finger ligament injury but remains keen to return for West Indies at some point. “I don’t feel my finger is quite ready for ODI cricket,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
Pollard showed glimpses of form in the IPL games against Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad but overall has struggled to find consistency. With him not bowling, the selectors preferred other all-rounders.
As expected, 40-year-old Chris Gayle was also named and the ‘Universe Boss’ is expected to wear the West Indies jersey one last time in the 50-over format after announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Gayle’s opening partner will be Evin Lewis and the talented duo of Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer are in the squad.
Chris Gayle could be the key man once again at the top of the order. Gayle, 39, has amassed 289 ODI caps, with 51 half-centuries and 25 centuries to his name, at an average of 38.16. He was in stunning form during the series against England, averaging 106 across the five games after making his return to the international setup.
Shimron Hetmyer and Hope will hold plenty of the run-scoring responsibility too, while 30-year old Darren Bravo is an experienced head that could be a good foil for the exciting young batters in the side. Left-handed batsman Evin Lewis is also in the squad, and will provide competition for an opening berth alongside Gayle.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo failed to make the cut, with Fabian Allen and Ashley Nurse set to take up spinning responsibilities. Fast bowlers Keemo Paul and Alzarri Joseph also missed out, and they will remain in India to play the rest of their IPL campaigns. Injured Alzarri Joseph has not been picked and the pace attack will be led by veteran Kemar Roach.
“I spoke to Andre a few days ago. He has a few niggles. He has some pain behind his knee but he assured the selection panel that he’ll be okay for the World Cup,” Robert Haynes, the interim chairman of CWI, said.
“Based on the new selection policy approach which allowed us to consider a number of players that have not regularly appeared in the side over the last two years, we had a wide base of talent from which to choose,” Haynes said.
“There were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15, including ensuring there was some continuity in the side, but we believe we have chosen a strong squad of players taking into consideration such factors as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.
“In keeping with tournament regulations, we submitted our squad prior to the deadline date of yesterday. All players named for the tri-nations series could, however, stake a claim to be in the final 15-member squad that will be submitted after the tri-series and before the final deadline next month.”
West Indies squad for World Cup:
Jason Holder (captain), Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer