Andre Russell has turned down the opportunity to tour New Zealand with the West Indies, meaning that the Jamaican all rounder misses the chance to reach his half-century of T20 International (T20I) appearances next month.
The Kingston-born ace has only ever played a single Test, against Sri Lanka in 2010, but from his 49 matches in the T20I competition has hit over 1,000 runs and taken 70 wickets.
Two of his compatriots have been named in the Test squad, Jermaine Blackwood and John Campbell, with five Jamaicans selected for the T20I squad – namely Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrel, Brandon King, Rovman Powell and Oshane Thomas.
Blackwood, 28, was a stand-out player at the crease during the seven-week tour of England during the summer. It started with his swashbuckling knock of 95 that helped secure success in the opening Test. However, the imposing 6’5” right-hander produced a more subdued performance in Manchester with 55, and finished off his adventure with two gritty innings in the forgettable final Test.
Left-hander Campbell, 26, looked dangerous at the wicket with promising knocks in the warm-up matches, but when it came to the crunch he failed to pile on the runs. But he is a valuable asset as he is also a nifty right-arm off spinner.
Allen, 25, is an all rounder who despite being a right-handed batsman is a slow left-handed bowler. He made his T20I debut against India in 2018.
Cottrel, 31, is a left-arm fast-medium bowler who in last year finished as the Windies’ leading wicket-taker at the World Cup, with a dozen dismissals in nine matches.
Batsman King, 25, made his T20I debut for the Windies against Afghanistan in November 2019.
All rounder Powell, 27, was the captain of the Windies’ ODI of Bangladesh in 2018 and in the same year was named as one of 10 players to watch by the International Cricket Council.
Thomas, 23, was voted as the Cricket West Indies (CWI) 2019 Emerging Player of the Year and was in the Windies’ Test reserve squad for the June and July tour to England.
CWI have released two squads for the tour of New Zealand (27 November-15 December) with Trinidad & Tobago batsmen Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons joining Russell by opting out of the tour.
The Test squad sees the notable omission of Barbados batsman/wicketkeeper Shai Hope, who has hit just one half-century in his past 13 Test matches.
The stylish 26-year-old is undoubtedly talented as he can bat, bowl and keep wicket. Hope screamed of desperation to be recognised as part of the Windies future when he toured England recently. He thwarted the England attack with a steady knock of 31 in his final innings of the tour, which seems to have been noted by compatriot and Test captain Jason Holder.
The Test squad welcomes back left-handed batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer, as well as Guyanese all rounder Keemo Paul.
Bravo, who hit his highest Test score of 218 seven years ago, is related to former West Indian superstar Brian Lara who is his first cousin once removed. The 31-year-old has played over 50 Tests and more than 100 One Day International matches (ODI).
Hetmyer, 23, made his Test and T20I debuts in 2017 while 22-year-old Paul was selected as one of 10 reserve players for the 2019 World Cup.
Experienced batman/wicketkeeper-batsman Andre Fletcher, 32, has been recalled to the T20I squad following a two-year hiatus. He is the younger brother of former Grenadian sprinter Sherry Fletcher.
Barbados all rounder Kyle Mayers has been given his maiden call-up for the T20I squad, his performances for the Barbaods Tridents in last month’s Caribbean Premier League catching the eye of the CWI Selection Panel.
Holder, the world’s no.1 all rounder, has been retained as Test captain for tour of New Zealand. The Windies have won just seven of the last 20 Tests and languish at world no.8 in the ICC Test rankings, and are set to play two Test matches and a trio of T20I against hosts New Zealand.
Roger Harper, one of the CWI selectors and a former all rounder with the Windies, explained that an expanded squad of reserves would be included in keeping with the new safety protocols regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Guyana-born Harper said: “The structure of the tour with the COVID-19 quarantine period doesn’t give the team any real opportunity for match practice as a team, but there are a number of experienced players in the team so, hopefully they can adapt quickly.
“In the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup, every T20I series is an important opportunity to fine tune the team, to get our personnel, our compositions and combinations right.
“For our players to become more attuned to their roles and the team to have a greater understanding of what works best in each situation. So, this is a very important series for us from that perspective and also in an effort to improve our rankings.”
Windies Test squad
Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.
Windies T20I squad
Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.
New Zealand v West Indies provisional tour schedule
Eden Park, Auckland
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Seddon Park, Hamilton
Basin Reserve, Wellington
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