By Rajiv Bisnauth
CHIEF selector, Roger Harper, and company announced two second-string squads last week for the West Indies tour to Bangladesh later this month.
Team captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase were among 12 players opting not to go on the Bangladesh tour due to COVID-19 concerns. The list includes Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich are unavailable because of personal reasons.
With those players opting out, selectors have come under fire with many blaming the selection panel for their “unwillingness” or “inability” to bring the right blend of players together for any one series.
The selectors’ insularity selection policy saw only three Guyana Jaguars players, Raymond Reifer, Romario Shepherd and the returning Veerasammy Permaul, making the cut.
However, many pundits believe at least two other Guyanese, skipper Leon Johnson and Chandrapaul Hemraj, should have been selected.
According to Harper, Johnson, was considered to lead the West Indies Test team to tour Bangladesh, but the selection panel opted for Kraigg Brathwaite instead.
“That, of course, was a consideration, but the fact that we had Kraigg Brathwaite there, we decided to go with Kraigg,” Harper disclosed on the recent Mason and Guest radio show.
Johnson has five Regional championships under his belt, and after 117 first-class matches, has amassed 6 190 runs at an average of 32.40, with six centuries and 39 fifties.
The 33-year-old Johnson has also played nine Test matches and scored 403 runs with two half-centuries to his name. However, he has an average of 25.18.
Meanwhile, speaking with Chronicle Sport, Hemraj, who played six ODIs, said he is not disappointed because he has no control over the selectors nor the selection process.
“I’m not disappointed because I don’t have control over the selectors or (the) selection process. My aim is to continue scoring runs and to be consistent as possible,” Hemraj said.
West Indies will participate in three ODIs and two Tests in Chattogram and Dhaka.
The tour begins with a one-day warm-up game at Savar on the January 18, followed by the first two ODIs on January 20 and 22, hosted by Dhaka.
West Indies and Bangladesh will move to Chattogram for the third ODI on January 25.
Chattogram will stage the four-day warm-up game and the first Test from February 3. West Indies’ visit ends in Dhaka where the second Test will commence on February 11.
The two Test matches will be part of the ICC World Test Championship while the ODIs are the first for the West Indies in their ICC World Cup Super League campaign that provides an opportunity to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2023 directly.