The new Cricket West Indies interim selection panel has gone into action very quickly and has selected a quite interesting squad for the 2019 Ireland Tai-Nation Series involving Ireland, Bangladesh and the West Indies to be played in Dublin from May 5th to 17th.
Interesting in the sense, they have selected a lot of experienced players as would be expected, but it is obvious that they have chosen a few talented players who have not totally fulfilled their potential over the years.
With the new policy of having the best West Indies team selected based on availability, form and fitness, I would surmise that they have done a good job.
There will always be questions about why certain players were not picked. Rahkeem Cornwall has been knocking at the door; Jermaine Blackwood could have been given another chance as he is also an outstanding fieldsman. Rovman Powell, who captained the West Indies in a series not too long ago, is another name missing.
However, let us examine what we have and see how they would have justified their selection, taking into consideration that we have 13 players taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL). I am extremely concerned about the opening position without Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis. There is only one recognised opener in the squad in John Campbell and I expect they will use Shai Hope to open with Campbell which is a pity as I would much prefer to see Hope coming in at number 3.
If anything happens to Campbell during the series, we will have two 'make-shift' openers which are not good for the future, especially with the imminent retirement of Gayle; we should be on the lookout for an aggressive opener in the region.
Darren Bravo picks himself and I hope he uses this series to build his confidence at the international level, as he did do as well as his ability suggests against England. Roston Chase is being given an opportunity at the ODI level to prove his worth but I cannot see him making the breakthrough and becoming a relatively permanent fixture in the team. Both Jonathan Carter and Sunil Ambris are talented stroke players and will be playing for their future.
Personally, I like Carter but his batting is impetuous while Ambris thinks he has to play a shot a ball; they need to settle, or they can say goodbye to West Indies cricket in the future.
Thankfully, the selectors have picked a specialist keeper in Shane Dowrich. His batting has improved and once he continues to work on his keeping and seek advice, he is very capable. The captain and a most improved all-rounder in world cricket, Jason Holder, will do well. His all-around performance and more importantly, how he led the side against England has been a revelation. He will continue to improve as a leader simply because he has become more confident as a player.
The other two genuine all-rounders Raymon Reifer and Fabian Allen - were selected based on their regional form but I can't see them making much of an impact. Allen is not a big turner of the ball and neither is Ashley Nurse. West Indies cricket badly needs a world-class leg-spinner to put pressure on the middle order of the opposition.
Our fast bowling trio of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Sheldon Cottrell are three aggressive bowlers that will trouble the best of batsmen. Once Roach and Gabriel stay fit, they must be our trump cards and with Holder as the backup, we can reduce the opposition to a low score. The problem will be when we get to the middle order of the opposing batting line up, and as I have already suggested, we need a world class spinner to compliment our fast bowlers.
The selectors will no doubt be paying close attention to these players as when the IPL players are available, it will be a mad rush for places and only the strong will survive based on their performances. I expect, however, this team to rise to the occasion as Bangladesh and Ireland (at home) can prove to be worthwhile and dangerous opponents.
Good luck to the team!