ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Sunday January 11, 2015, CMC – West Indies selectors have axed experienced campaigners Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard for the regional side’s World Cup campaign, sticking with the controversial decision that saw both players also dumped for the South Africa series later this month.
Both all-rounders, with 255 One-Day Internationals between them, were notable omissions from the 15-man squad announced late Saturday by the West Indies Cricket Board.
The squad will be led by rookie seamer Jason Holder, who was also named as skipper for the five-match series against South Africa, with selectors making the surprising move to appoint Marlon Samuels as vice-captain.
Champion off-spinner Sunil Narine has been recalled to the squad along with fellow Trinidadian Darren Bravo, who recently pulled out of the South Africa tour to deal with personal matters.
“I believe we have selected a very good team which will do West Indies proud at the World Cup. We have a good mixture of some good seasoned players and some good youngsters who will fly the West Indies flag in Australia and New Zealand,” chief selector Clive Lloyd said.
“If they play to their potential I am quite sure we will do very well. I have really high hopes in this team – I believe they can do something special. We have the talent and if we can play to our potential we have a very good chance of lifting that trophy.”
The side has been boosted by the inclusion of talismanic opener Chris Gayle who boasts 258 ODI appearances, former captain Darren Sammy and fast bowler Kemar Roach, who limped out of the South Africa tour with an ankle injury following the opening day of the first Test at Centurion last December.
However, their presence is likely to be overshadowed by the decision to exclude Dwayne Bravo – a former captain – and Pollard.
Selectors came under fire in several quarters ast month for the decision to omit the players for the South Africa tour, with their attorney Ralph Throne branding the move as “victimisation” and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves contending that the decision “glaringly [lacked] cricketing merit.”
Both players were members of the ODI side which abandoned the tour of India in October over a contract dispute. Bravo, who was captain at the time, also acted as the players’ representative and was at the forefront of the battle with the WICB and players union, WIPA.
In a letter to the WICB last month, Gonsalves called for the reinstatement of the players, labelling Bravo’s dropping as captain “a travesty of justice.”
However, both players boast ordinary records. In 91 ODIs, Pollard averages just over 25 with the bat, 38 with the ball and an economy rate of 5.5 runs an over. Bravo, meanwhile, appointed captain in May, 2013, averages 25 with the bat, 29 with the ball and an economy rate of nearly 5.5 an over.
Significantly, Bravo is on the cusp of a major landmark with 199 ODI scalps, and is also 32 runs shy of 3,000 runs.
Ironically, Bravo also missed the last World Cup in India four years ago, after falling prey to injury in the lead-up to the tournament.
Meanwhile, uncapped players Jonathan Carter and Sheldon Cottrell, both of whom have been named to face South Africa, have retained their spots in the squad.
West Indies will do battle in Group B at the World Cup alongside Ireland, Pakistan, India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe, and Lloyd said the tournament presented the ideal opportunity for the regional side to do something special.
“This is a very prestigious world event, one of the biggest sporting events on the international calendar and it is a huge opportunity to create something historic and memorable for West Indies cricket and the people of the region,” the legendary former captain said.
The tournament is scheduled for Australia and New Zealand and runs from February 14th to March 29th.
SQUAD – Jason Holder (Captain), Marlon Samuels (Vice Captain), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Christopher Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.