Only a day after CPL champions Barbados Tridents’ coach Phil Simmons was named the West Indies coach again, Cricket West Indies’ new selection panel has picked the two latest CPL stars – legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr. and opener Brandon King – for the three T20Is and as many ODIs against Afghanistan in Dehradun, India in November. Walsh and King had topped the wicket-taking and run-scoring charts in the 2019 CPL respectively.
Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre, another recent CPL star who has played four T20Is, was also picked in both the limited-overs squads.
Walsh Jr. made his debut for USA in 2018 and international debut for them earlier this year, and will now get to represent a new-look West Indies side. He spun the Tridents to the title with 22 wickets in the tournament at an economy rate of 8.28 despite playing just nine matches in the season. Walsh Jr., who was born in US Virgin Islands to Antiguan parents, is a dual passport holder and has been part of West Indies’ domestic structure.
King, the 24-year-old Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman, was rewarded for scoring 496 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of nearly 150. A promotion to the top this season unlocked King’s power-hitting that was central to the Amazon Warriors winning a record 11 games in a row before faltering at the final hurdle.
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Kieron Pollard, who last played an ODI in 2016, returned to take over as the captain of both the limited-overs teams. Test captain Jason Holder, who won the CPL with the Tridents on Sunday, was part of all three squads.
However, Sunil Narine, who suffered a recurrence of a finger injury during the CPL and was in “excruciating pain” during the second qualifier, according to his Trinbago Knight Riders captain Pollard, wasn’t available for the tour.
Chris Gayle, who made a U-turn by returning to action in the ODIs at home against India after declaring that the World Cup would end his 50-over career, didn’t feature in any of the squads either. His comments during the World Cup caught some of his own team-mates by surprise and his international future continues to be unclear.
Lendl Simmons, who wasn’t initially picked in the CPL draft and later reeled off 430 runs in 12 innings at the top as a replacement player for the Knight Riders, returned to the T20I squad that included as many as eight changes. Simmons will reunite with his uncle Phil Simmons, with whom he had won the T20 World Cup in India in 2016.
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Simmons’ Knight Riders team-mate Pierre, who excels at bowling with the new ball, was also rewarded for his CPL form. He is yet to make his ODI debut. Wicketkeeper-batsman Denesh Ramdin was back in the T20I squad while former T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite and the Jamaica Tallawahs trio of Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell, and Rovman Powell didn’t make the cut. It is understood that Russell, who has had a history of knee injuries, isn’t fully fit yet.
Powell, who has also captained West Indies before, is recovering from an abdominal strain that sidelined him from the second half of the CPL. St Lucia Stars seamer Kesrick Williams, who has a variety of slower balls in his repertoire, returned to the T20I side, having last represented West Indies in August 2018. Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell and a fit-again Alzarri Joseph, who regularly hit speeds north of 140kph in the CPL, will lend more depth to the pace attack in all three formats.
Amazon Warriors paceman Romario Shepherd, who can also swing his bat lower down the order, is the new face in the ODI squad. Shepherd was also part of the West Indies A sides that faced India A in the one-dayers in the Caribbean earlier this year.