BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Chief selector Roger Harper has stoutly defended the shock selection of uncapped teenaged fast bowler Jayden Seales, arguing that the T&T talent glaring lack of experience was superseded by his “enthusiasm” and wicket-taking ability.
The 19-year-old Seales was named on Tuesday in a 13-man squad to face South Africa in the opening Test starting on Thursday at the Daren Sammy National Stadium in St Lucia.
Seales, however, has never played a regional first class match but Harper contended his performances in two recent West Indies inter-squad warm-up games had tilted the scales in his favour.
“I saw a young bowler perform in those games when Test players and the best of our regional first class players were playing, and he performed exceedingly well, better than a number of players that have been playing first class cricket over a number of years,” Harper told a media conference following the announcement of the squad.
“The match was not named a first class match but those matches were played by the best of our first class players and he performed exceedingly well.
“So I would like to think if he can perform well in those games against those players he has the potential to transfer that onto the Test scene.”
Seales took four wickets in the first inter-squad match back in March, none of his victims boasting any extensive Test experience.
And in last week’s second inter-squad game, the right-armer claimed a five-wicket match haul, including an impressive four-wicket second innings effort when he knocked over the experienced duo of Darren Bravo and Shai Hope.
Harper said Seales had exhibited exciting qualities in those two matches, which had convinced the selection panel of his readiness for the highest level.
“He’s impressed the panel with his pace, with his enthusiasm, the fact that he is willing to run in, he gets movement and he’s proven to be a wicket-taker,” Harper said of the player with a single wicket from his only first class game against New Zealand A last December, when he was among the travelling reserves for West Indies’ two-Test tour of New Zealand.
“A number of persons have asked the question about the fact he’s played only one first class game.
“You have to take the current situation into consideration, the fact that we haven’t had regional cricket, but we’ve had matches where all persons involved were first class players and a huge number of them, more than 60 per cent have played Test cricket.”
Seales came to prominence at last year’s ICC Under-19 World Cup when he finished with 10 wickets as Young West Indies bowed out at the quarter-final stage.
He was then fast-tracked into the senior team setup and following the New Zealand tour, remained with the West Indies squad for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka in march as a “developmental player”.
Seales gets the nod ahead of 24-year-old speedster Keon Harding who was a reserve on last year’s Test tour of England and who made his one-day debut in Bangladesh earlier this year, but surprisingly failed to make the recent 17-man provisional squad for the upcoming series.
And even though the Barbadian stood out in the last first class season with 29 wickets and has taken 54 from 17 first class matches overall, Harper stressed Seales was “best placed” to represent West Indies at the moment.
“Keon Harding no doubt has tremendous potential and I think going forward, he continues to improve and develop his skill,” Harper explained.
“Of course he will play a tremendous part but at this point we think that Jayden Seales is best placed among the fast bowlers to serve the purpose that we’re looking for at this point.”