… says lessons learnt in England will play big part
By Clifton Ross
CRICKET West Indies (CWI) head selector Roger Harper is backing the West Indies to give good accounts of themselves during their upcoming tour of New Zealand set to bowl off next month.
With the Caribbean side prepared to possibly engaged in some two Tests and three T20Is, Harper, during a virtual conference yesterday said he was fully confident that the respective sides chosen will perform to the best of their abilities, in a few weeks’ time.
The Windies will be bolstered by the return of Guyanese Keemo Paul, Shimron Hetmyer and Trinidad left-hander Darren Bravo. Speaking on the return of 3 of the Caribbean’s top stars, who opted out of England, Harper was happy to see a fully-featured unit heading into action.
“The return of Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul will bolster the team, I expect that Darren will solidify the top-order, hopefully making it more productive, while Shimron gives the squad more options in the middle-order. It is also another opportunity for him to show how good a player he is. Keemo provides another wicket-taking seam option.” said Harper.
An ex-Guyana and West Indies all-rounder, Harper, further pressed on the notion that the experience gathered during the team’s return to live cricket during the pandemic whilst in England will help to better equip them for this next challenge that looms.
“The Test team has an opportunity to put into practice the learnings from the tour of England earlier this year. The team has good all-round depth and I expect players to be very competitive. New Zealand are a very good team especially in New Zealand, so we need to be on the top of our game,” said the selector.
Harper made special mention of the stylish but out-of-touch Shai Hope, who was axed for the upcoming tour following a poor series in England.
“Shai is a player who I think has a tremendous future in Test cricket but at the moment he needs to reorganise his Test match game and get his batting in the longest version, back to its best.” stated Harper.
The Test team seems to be back to full-strength but the T20 unit will have a few holes to fill after some big guns like Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons opted out. Harper, nevertheless, was adamant that the players will hold their own in the absence of some of their veteran stars.
“Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell are two very experienced T20 players who performed very well on the last tour of Sri Lanka and their absence will surely be noted. However, Andre Fletcher has another opportunity to show us what he can do and what he brings to the table.”
He continued, “The T20I players are now getting back into the groove after a nine-month absence from international competition. Fortunately, a number of players have been involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and before that the CPL, so they have had some competitive cricket leading up to this tour.
Looking to the future, Windies, who are former two-time World T20 champs, will be seeking to get back to the helm of that format. Harper was firm on every challenge going forward being of utmost importance as they build their unit for the next World Cup.
“In the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup, every T20I series is an important opportunity to fine-tune the team, to get our personnel, our compositions and combinations right, for our players to become more attuned to their roles and the team to have a greater understanding of what works best in each situation.
“So, this is a very important series for us from that perspective and also in an effort to improve our rankings.” Harper ended.