Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse and Jonathan Carter are not exactly household names and there’s good reason for that. The rift between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indian cricketers has left their game deprived of any big names.
Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle, Dwayne and Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell (prior to his drug ban) were some of the players to have left the West Indies for greater reward around the world, in domestic T20 competitions.
But out with the old and in with the new.
Let’s have a look at the talented young players the West Indies have chosen for their five-ODI series against Champions Trophy runners-up, India.
Jason Holder (capt.), Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Kieran Powell, Roston Chase, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Miguel Cummins, Alzari Joseph, Kesrick Williams, Jonathan Carter, Devendra Bishoo, Rovman Powell
Miguel Cummins and Devendra Bishoo are likely to sit out for the first match.
Likely to fill the first three spots in the opening match at Port-of-Spain are Evin Lewis, Kieran Powell and Shai Hope. Lewis is an explosive batsman that Indian fans may remember for his match-winning 100 off just 49 deliveries in Florida.
The left-hander’s hard hitting skills may prove difficult to contain on flat decks, but his effectiveness on slow and low pitches is doubtful.
Shai Hope is one of the West Indies’ most technically sound batsmen. The athletic wicketkeeper scored a match-winning 98 not out against Pakistan in the test arena, as well as a valiant half-century in the 3rd one-dayer against the same side.
An attractive strokemaker, he comes into the tournament off the back of a man of the match performance versus Afghanistan. He is a good player of spin, and getting him out early will be important for India.
Kieran Powell came back to West Indian cricket following a failed career in baseball. His returns since his comeback have been mixed, with some impressive knocks against the pace and swing of Mohammad Amir. However, he failed to convert his starts into big scores. He might have trouble on low-slow tracks though, as he likes the ball coming onto his bat.
The West Indies boast of allrounder Roston Chase in their middle order. After scoring his maiden century, in a match-saving knock against India last year, he furthered the claim of being the West Indies’ best batsman. He is a prolific batsman against both pace and spin, but has not reflected that talent in the shorter format.
Debuting against Afghanistan, he got out on a golden duck, followed by another low score in the following game. His off-breaks have been useful for the West Indies, and he can play both a holding and wicket-taking role for his team.
Jonathan Carter is expected to play at four. However, he is a poor choice at number 4 for any international team, not averaging above 30 in any form of the game. He is an allrounder and bowls medium pace that can be used to dry up the runs.
So far, he has not found his footing in international cricket, sporadically appearing for the West Indies, often underwhelming spectators.
Surprisingly, this is not the worst lower order in the world. Jason Mohammed, although inexperienced, is a fantastic player on his day. His languid batting stole a game from the jaws of Pakistan earlier this year and his gentle off-breaks can be used in the middle overs on a turning track.
Rovman Powell, an allrounder, fits a similar profile as Andre Russell in his early days. A hard-hitting batsman and a useful fast-medium bowler, Powell can finish an innings in style. However, it is unlikely that his style of play will be effective on the slow sluggish pitch used for the first game.
Jason Holder has come up leaps and bounds, since his first five-wicket haul in tests last year. Carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders, albeit sheepishly, he has driven a barren West Indies both with the ball and the bat in hand.
Not only does he play technical cricket, he can use the long levers to good effect. However, if there is no swing, his medium pace will be exploited for runs.
Ashley Nurse is a tall, muscular right arm off-break bowler. His height and speed give him assistance on slow tracks, and his off-breaks will prove difficult for India to play. He rattled an England lineup in a losing cause earlier this year and has impressed with both bat and ball since.
If the West Indies are to beat India, they will need Ashley Nurse to step up.
Alzari Joseph is a phenomenon. If he were born in another country, he could have been the new Kagiso Rabada. The 20-year-old gained prominence in the U19 World Cup last year, where he rattled opponents with his extreme pace. He was subsequently fast-tracked to the test team, where he has performed well in bursts. He can bat a bit as well.
Kesrick Williams is likely to debut ahead of Miguel Cummins after what has been a good year for him in T20 cricket. A fine performer in the CPL, he also made consistently good performances in T20I series’ after that. He is one to look out for, and his variations will make him a sticky customer.
Devendra Bishoo is an exciting leg-spinner on his good days, mainly in tests. He ravaged Pakistan with an 8-fer in the UAE and has shown some good application in the recent Pakistan series as well. However, his speed, hovering in the 70s, is not suitable for slow conditions. His lack of variations, too, might harm the West Indies.
However, a spin-heavy attack is recommended for the ODIs played on slow wickets. He can bat a little as well, often coming out as a night-watchman for the West Indies in tests.
Miguel Cummins came to the fore when he got a 5-fer versus India last year. Since then, he has not shown the same wicket-taking skills, taking just 7 wickets in his international career outside his five-wicket haul. He is used mainly in a holding capacity, and Kesrick Williams, on debut, is likely to feature in the first ODI ahead of him.
While Pakistan have shown that experience is not necessary to win matches, the West Indian squad for this series have just 211 between them. Comparatively, Rohit, Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni combine to give more than a 1000.
Their lack of experience is somewhat countered by their talent, through individual match-winners in Evin Lewis, Shai Hope and Ashley Nurse. However, the fact that their team was beaten thoroughly by Afghanistan, an associate, in an ODI is a sign that the only Caribbean thing that can possibly save the West Indies from defeat is the rain.
However, a series like this, versus experienced opposition, is just what a young team will need to gain match practice. They can exploit home conditions, and use the fact that India is off the back of a long season, to their advantage.
Their players will look to Jason Holder to provide experience and motivation ahead of what is expected to be a gruelling few weeks for the home team.
The West Indians have been extremely poor in recent times. Their last three series make for dismal reading. 1-1 versus Afghanistan, 1-2 versus Pakistan and 0-3 versus England. They have slipped to 9th in the rankings and might possibly fail to earn an automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
They need to win this series and in the one against England to give themselves even a chance.Published 20 Jun 2017, 19:58 IST