BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Outspoken fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts has lamented the exclusion of fast bowler Oshane Thomas from the West Indies 14-man squad to England but has queried the inclusion of out-of-form opener Kraigg Brathwaite.
Thomas, who has been restricted to white-ball cricket for West Indies since making his international debut two years ago, was named among 11 reserves which have also travelled for the historic three-Test.
Brathwaite, meanwhile, has been the Caribbean side’s most experienced Test batsman with 59 Tests but has struggled in recent time.
“One name that surprised me wasn’t in the squad was Oshane Thomas,” Sir Andy said.
“I now see they have brought him into the 25. His name should have been one that was pencilled in a lot more at the top. He should’ve been there [in the 14-man squad] from the onset because he has what others want – pace. And everybody wants pace.
“He may not be a wicket-taker but he may create some problems for the opposition and that is what you want. Sometimes it’s not the guys who get the wickets, it’s the guy who creates the problem and allows the other man to get the wickets.”
Sir Andy’s comments echo those of fellow West Indies icon, Michael Holding, who last week also questioned Thomas’s omission from the main Test squad.
The 23-year-old Thomas is inexperienced at the first-class level, however, and has not played a four-day match in nearly 18 months. He has taken 17 wickets from eight first-class matches for his native Jamaica.
Brathwaite’s form, meanwhile, has come under the microscope of recent, the obdurate right-hander averaging just 16 from his last six Tests, to see his overall average slide to 33.
During the recent first-class championship, he was averaging a mere 25 after the seventh round of matches before knocks of 48 and 84 not out against Guyana Jaguars in the eighth round, boosted his numbers.
“[Selected him] based upon what?” Sir Andy told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.
“His record? Or the last outings he had in the [first class championship]? Why are you taking him? His record doesn’t show much.”
Selectors have included the uncapped pair of batsman Nkrumah Bonner and fast bowler Chemar Holder in the 14-man squad, with fast-bowling all-rounder Raymon Reifer recalled after playing a single Test three years ago.
Sir Andy, who took 202 wickets from 47 Tests as a member of the halcyon side of the 1970s and 80s, also pondered Reifer’s presence.
“They probably know why they chose Raymon Reifer. Is it to bowl steadily from one end or they think because he’s a left-armer he will make a difference,” Sir Andy mused.
“What is Raymon’s strength? Does his strength depend a lot upon swing or containment? These are some of the things we need to look at.”
West Indies arrived in the United Kingdom last Tuesday and are currently in quarantine at Old Trafford in Manchester, ahead of the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton starting July 8.
The tour is the first international one to be staged amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.