West Indies named their 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Wednesday, 24 April.
Last month, the Caribbean side surprised critics with a brilliant performance against the England side to equal a closely fought 5 games ODI series. Former Caribbean legend Brian Lara recently called the team the “surprise element” in this CWC. And going by their erratic nature, they are likely to create plenty of excitement in the competition.
Muscle Russell is back!
Russell, who last played an ODI match in July 2018 – his first one-day match in three years made a comeback to the Caribbean side. A spate of injuries and a one-year ban in 2017 had stalled the Jamaican’s progress in international cricket but the selectors have shown faith in the 30-year-old. Russell has been in excellent form in T20 leagues around the world. In the ongoing IPL season, he has already accrued 392 runs at an amazing strike-rate of 217.77 and hit 41 sixes. If he continues this remarkable form, fans are in for a treat in the CWC as well.
No place for Pollard
Both Russell and Kieron Pollard bring a similar set of skills to the table. But while selectors have given Russell the sign, Pollard has been excluded from the team. Pollard last played an ODI in October 2016 against SA. After a couple of quiet IPL seasons, Pollard has been execution well this year and had admitted after his recent knock of 83 against Kings XI Punjab that he had not lined out the option of a Caribbean return.
The opening options
During England’s recent tour of the West Indies in February, 25-year-old John Campbell had partnered Chris Gayle to open the innings. But Campbell’s below performance did little to attention the selectors and they in its place chose Evin Lewis to do the honors. Fascinatingly, Lewis last played an ODI in July 2018 and performed unwell. Lewis might not have done well recently but his last ODI innings in ENG was a brutal 176* at The Oval in September 2017. The selectors also unnoticed Kieran Powell, who had opened in ODIs in December last year in the three-game series against Bangladesh.
Gayle, the experienced campaigner
If Russell has ignited up the IPL, Gayle is not too far behind either. The skilled left-hander is all set to play his fifth and final CWC. He has been in outstanding form in international cricket. In the five ODIs, he has played this year, he has accrued 424 runs at an average of 106. Even in the IPL, he is striking at 159.46 and has counted over 400 runs so far, including a quick-fire 99*. His form augurs well for the squad and if Lewis drops anchor at one end, Gayle will be looking to go all guns intense at the antagonism when the competition begins.
Rise of the 22-year-olds
Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas, both 22, have been referred to as West Indies’ most promising players in recent times. While Hetmyer, who debuted in December 2017, has already gone on to establish himself as a vital cog in the middle order, Thomas, who played his first ODI in October last year, has been touted as the next great West Indies fast bowler. Both had a terrific Caribbean Premier League in 2018 and have carried that form since. Hetmyer, who has scored close to 900 ODI runs, has been striking well this year. And Thomas, who consistently hits speeds of over 145kph, has already picked up 15 wickets in nine ODIs, including a match-winning five-wicket haul against England last month.
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