Brandon King, Hayden Walsh Jr break into West Indies’ limited-overs squads

TAROUBA, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - OCTOBER 12: In this handout image provided by CPL T20, Brandon King of Guyana Amazon Warriors bats during the Hero Caribbean Premier League Final between Guyana Amazon Warriors and Barbados Tridents at Brian Lara Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Tarouba, Trinidad And Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen - CPL T20/CPL T20 via Getty Images)
Brandon King upon reaching his century for the GAW in the 2019 season 

Legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr., who made his debut for USA in 2018 and international debut for them earlier this year, has now broken into West Indies’ squad for the three T20Is and three ODIs against Afghanistan at Dehradun in India in November.

Walsh made it to West Indies’ limited-overs squads after a breakout CPL 2019, where he spun Barbados Tridents to the title with 22 wickets at an economy rate of 8.28 despite playing just nine matches in the season. Walsh, who was born in US Virgin Islands to Antiguan parents, is a dual passport holder and has been part of West Indies’ domestic structure.

Guyana Amazon Warriors’ opening batsman Brandon King, who was the top scorer in this season’s CPL with 496 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of nearly 150, was also picked in both the ODI and T20I squads. A promotion to the top this season unlocked King’s power-hitting that was central to Amazon Warriors winning a record 11 games in a row before faltering at the final hurdle.

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 Barbados 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,” according to his Trinbago Knight Riders captain Pollard during the second qualifier, wasn’t picked in the T20I or ODI squad.

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 496 runs in 12 innings at the top as a replacement player for Knight Riders – though 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. Controversially sacked after winning that tournament, Simmons has made a comeback as a head coach for a tenure of four years.

Simmons’ Knight Riders team-mate Khary Pierre, who excels with bowling with the new ball, was also rewarded for his CPL form and was picked in both the ODI and T20I squads. The left-arm spinner has played four T20Is so far but 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 T20Is.

Hayden Walsh

Joseph was included all three squads – along with Holder – but is uncapped in T20Is. He had injured his right arm while playing for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL in April and returned to the field after nearly five months to represent St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the CPL recently. He played nine matches to pick up as many wickets and ended with a fairly good economy rate of 7.75.

Amazon Warriors seamer 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.

Shai Hope, who had sustained a finger injury during the Test series against India, was back in the ODI and Test squads, having proved his fitness in Tridents’ run to the CPL title.

Two notable absentees from the Test squad were Darren Bravo and quick bowler Shannon Gabriel. Bravo was dropped after managing a mere 47 runs in four innings at an average of 15.66 against India. His form hardly improved in the CPL thereafter, with 128 runs in seven innings, striking at 103.22, with only one half-century. Gabriel, who has become a formidable force in the last couple of years, is nursing an injury. His recent form against India wasn’t impressive either. He claimed just four wickets in the two Tests and averaged as much as 56.50 with a strike rate of 99.

Wicketkeeper Jahmar Hamilton, who made his test debut in the second Test against India, was also left out of the Test squad. He got the chance against India after injuries to Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich, but with both fit to travel to India, there was no place for Hamilton.

Apart from Joseph’s return, the selectors picked left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican and top-order batsman Sunil Ambris. Both Warrican and Ambris last played a Test in November 2018 against Bangladesh. While Ambris struck some form against India A recently in both four-day matches and one-dayers, Warricon impressed more while playing for Barbados in the domestic first-class competition earlier this year.

T20I squad: Kieron Pollard (capt.), Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Brandon King, Fabian Allen, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Denesh Ramdin, Kesrick Williams, Alzarri Joseph.

ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (capt), Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph, Romario Shepherd.

Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Shai Hope, John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamrah Brooks, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Sunil Ambris, Jomel Warrican, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph.