ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: Evin Lewis, Johnson Charles return to West Indies squad for T20 World Cup; Sunil Narine, Andre Russell miss out.
With exactly a month to go for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 which is all set to take place in Australia in the one-month period between the middle of October to November, the West Indies Cricket board (WICB) have declared their 15-member squad for the world event.
The two-time world champions fared poorly in the last tournament which took place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2021. During the competition in five attempts, they won just a solitary game against Bangladesh at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Lewis, Charles return as West Indies ignore Narine and Russell
West Indies have recalled their left-hand opening batter, Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles, the right-hand opener to the squad for the World T20. The surprise pick of the team was the uncapped leg-spin bowling all-rounder Yannic Cariah, who last played a T20 back in 2016.
With most of their T20 stars from the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard having hung their shoes from international cricket, the West Indies side led by young captain Nicholas Pooran will be a bit inexperienced as compared to their last few T20 World Cups.
“I think the situation with Andre Russell, we’ve just decided to move on, and look for someone who is in form and doing well in the T20 format,” West Indies chief selector Desmond Haynes expressed in an interview. “Yes, again, the captain told me he has reached out to Sunil Narine, but I am not sure he wants to play.”
Fabien Allen, who recently announced his availability for selection after spending a break for family reasons is absent from the squad along with Hayden Walsh. Left-arm seam-bowling all-rounder, Raymon Reifer who is yet to play T20Is has also found a place in the squad.
West Indies ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 Squad
Nicholas Pooran (Captain), Rovman Powell (Vice-captain), Yannic Cariah, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy, Raymon Reifer, Odean Smith
Let’s scan the strengths and weaknesses of the West Indies squad which consists of both experience and youth as they embark on their campaign for a third T20I world title.
Going hard from the start is the Caribbean flavour
One of the reasons for the poor performances of West Indies in last year’s World T20 was the lack of runs scored by their batters. In the list of the top 15 run-scorers in the last World T20, there is not a single West Indies batter who finds his name which easily paints their struggle at the top.
For this year’s assignment, they have brought back Evin Lewis who was out of the team due to some fitness issues. Lewis who has scored 1423 runs in 50 T20Is with ten half-centuries and a couple of centuries is expected to open the innings. With him, Kyle Mayers or Johnson Charles could be used at the opening slot.
“Someone like Evin Lewis, he is committed to West Indies cricket and I believe he should be given an opportunity,” Haynes spoke on the selection. “Judging from his (Charles’) performances in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), he is experienced and someone who can be the second keeper.”
Charles has made a comeback in the team after six long years thanks to his colourful form in the ongoing CPL 2022, where he is presently the second-highest run-getter with 227 runs in six innings at an average of 45.40 and strike rate of 136.74.
On the other hand, Kyle Mayers too has been excellent in CPL 2022 where playing for Barbados Royals, he has smashed 286 runs in seven innings besides picking up five wickets. Brandon King who looks to be one of the solid players at the top is also an option for the West Indies.
Stable middle with basket full experience of T20s
Most of the players in the middle-order have truckloads of experience playing in various franchise leagues around the world. This will help them winning the crunch moments at the biggest stage in the World Cup.
Nicholas Pooran is yet to fire in the current CPL 2022, scoring just 92 runs in five innings at a strike rate of just 122.67 with an average of 18.40 but he has been excellent in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) with 306 runs in just 13 innings at a strike rate of 144.34.
Shimron Hetmyer is another notable inclusion in the side who is expected to be a strong weapon in the middle-order. Hetmyer till now hasn’t done much of note in West Indies colours, recording just 797 runs in 42 innings at an average of 20.97 and a strike rate of 118.42; but in the recent Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 for Rajasthan Royals (RR), Hetmyer was phenomenal with 314 runs in 15 innings at a strike rate of over 150.
Rovman Powell has been selected as the vice-captain of the West Indies side and his form will be a huge factor for them to do well in this upcoming tournament. Powell has rescued Jamaica Tallawahs on many occasions in this ongoing CPL where so far, he has scored 218 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 130.54 with an average of 54.50.
Jason Holder will lead the all-rounder section
Probably, the all-rounder’s slot is one of those vital constituents of the squad that West Indies always look to fulfill in the shortest format of the game. Someone who can come at number seven or eight in the lower middle-order and smack a few balls out of the park, besides bowling a few overs, is always useful in this run-fest format.
In the absence of premier all-rounder Andre Russell, West Indies will pin their hopes on Jason Holder who too has the experience of playing in various leagues around the globe. The rise of Odean Smith who has a T20I strike rate of nearly 150 in the short number of opportunities he has got, will give West Indies a lot of confidence. But his bowling is a concern; he has an economy rate of 10.2 in 19 T20I games.
Raymon Reifer, who is the son of former West Indies captain Floyd Reifer, has been added in the squad along with another uncapped player Yannic Cariah who is a leg spinning all-rounder. Reifer has secured 172 runs in five innings in the CPL 2022 at a strike rate of 140.98.
Lack of experience in the spin and pace department
Lack of experience will be huge factor in the bowling department for the West Indies. Leaving Sheldon Cotrell who has played 41 T20Is for the West Indies, they have Alzarri Joseph, Obed McCoy and Akeal Hosein who haven’t played a lot of games for West Indies in this format.
Just like their batters, there is not a single West Indian bowler to feature in the top 15 wicket-takers list during World T20 2021, which elucidates their weakness in this department.
Left-arm pacer, Obed McCoy was in splendid form in the recent T20I series against India, picking up nine wickets in five games at an average of just 19.33, is expected to do well on the pacy and bouncy tracks of Australia. But the economy level of these bowlers will be a concern for skipper Nicholas Pooran and coach Phil Simmons.
In the spin department, Akeal Hosein was economical in the series against India, going for just 92 runs in his 16 overs but he could pick up only four wickets in four games. Fabian Allen and Hayden Walsh missed out from the squad which raised a few eyebrows.
The West Indies squad looks good on paper and have the ability to beat any side on any given day but the lack of experience in few of the departments may come back to haunt them in crunch moments. West Indies are perhaps missing a batter who can hold one end if wickets fall in a cluster. However, Nicholas Pooran who himself is so young in leading the side will expect his bat to fire and hope to employ wise tactics in vital situations.
West Indies will play a two-match T20I series against Australia for preparation ahead of the World Cup. The T20I series between West Indies and Australia starts on October 5 at the Carrara Oval in Queensland. They will start their World Cup campaign against Scotland on October 17 at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.