Russell returns - All-action all-rounder included in WI T20 squad to face India
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
Injury-plagued all-rounder André Russell has been included in the West Indies squad to face India in the opening two Twenty20s, a month after limping out of the ICC World Cup in England.
The 31-year-old will join experienced off-spinner Sunil Narine, who has been recalled to the side following a near two-year absence, with Guyanese wicketkeeper-batsman Anthony Bramble the only uncapped player in the 14-man squad.
All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite returns as captain following Jason Holder’s temporary lien on the side for the England series earlier this year in preparation for the World Cup, but there is no Chris Gayle as the veteran left-hander will be plying his trade in the Global T20 Canada tournament, which bowls off today.
Interim chairman of selectors, Robert Haynes, said the squad had been selected with next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia in mind.
FINDING THE RIGHT FORMULA
“This squad is an excellent balance of experience and youth,” the Jamaican said.
“It’s not just about the present – the India tour of the West Indies – but we are also looking at the T20 World Cup coming up next year and it is important that we find the right combination of players and the right formula for defending our title.
“We have to make sure that we put certain things in place now, so that when it comes to picking the squad for the T20 World Cup, it becomes easier, so we are giving more players the opportunity to play and get the exposure.”
Russell’s inclusion comes following a successful surgery on his left knee that forced him out of the World Cup after four matches. He was in visible discomfort while bowling and repeatedly left the field for treatment during spells, and was also restricted in his movement in the field.
Overall, he managed five wickets from 19 overs and made 36 runs from three innings.
He will be forced to undergo a fitness prior to the series against India.
Narine, meanwhile, has not turned out for the Windies since the one-off T20 International against England nearly two years ago at Chester-le-Street.
He has been dogged by injury and intense scrutiny over his action but remains one of the finest bowlers in the shortest format.
“We felt that players like Narine and Pollard, who have played well in T20 leagues around the world, once they are fit and mentally ready to play, we must give them the opportunity to represent the West Indies again,” said Haynes.
Bramble, 28, has been identified as the second-choice wicketkeeper in the squad behind Nicholas Pooran. He led Guyana Jaguars’ scoring in the last first-class season with 580 runs at average of 52 but struggled in the Super50 Cup with 110 runs.
Haynes said the player’s leadership ability showcased last year when he led West Indies B to the final of the GT20 Canada also weighed in his favour.
“We figured that though Nicholas Pooran will be the first-choice wicketkeeper, we needed to have someone to deputise in case something unexpected happens, and Bramble is the perfect choice.”
West Indies suffered a 3-0 clean sweep to India in their last T20 series, but Haynes said he was confident the veteran players would give the hosts the advantage.
“We expect that this will be a keenly contested series against India. Most of the players that we have selected have played in the IPL and they know all of the Indian players well,” he explained.
The first T20 is set for Fort Lauderdale on August 3 with the second the following day.
SQUAD: Carlos Brathwaite (captain), John Campbell, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Sunil Narine, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Anthony Bramble, Andre Russell, Khary Pierre.