Chemar Holder, Raymon Reifer, Nkrumah Bonner and Jermaine Blackwood have been included in West Indies’ 14-man squad for the three-match closed door Test series against England starting on July 8. The West Indies have also named 11 reserve players for the Test rubber.
Meanwhile, the likes of Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul declined to tour England. Cricket West Indies, on their part, said it “fully respects their decision to choose to do so. As previously stated, CWI will not hold this decision against these players when considering future selection”.
Chemar, who played in the Under 19 World Cup in 2016, has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit. The promising fast bowler, who hasn’t yet represented the West Indies, bagged 36 wickets at an average of just 18.91 in the 2019-20 first-class season. Bonner, the 31-year-old, has played in 69 first-class games, scoring 3321 runs. The Jamaican, who has played two T20Is, was also in prime form in West Indies’ four-day championship, ending up with 523 runs last season. He is also a useful leg-spinner, having bagged 45 scalps in first-class cricket.
Reifer, who earned his Test debut in New Zealand in 2017, makes a comeback into the squad. The all-rounder averaged 25.55 and 30.06 with the bat and ball respectively in the 2019-20 season.
Blackwood, the middle-order batsman, has also earned a recall. He wasn’t included in the squad for the one-off Test against Afghanistan last year. The experienced batsman was in excellent touch in the West Indies’s four-day championship, where he cracked an imposing 248 for Jamaica against Leeward Islands. Incidentally, on 93, the right-handed batsman collected two successive fours off Jeremiah Louis to complete his fifth first-class hundred.
The knock turned out to be the second highest individual score for Jamaica in the last 54 years and the seventh highest in the championship history. He also ended the season as the top runs-scorer with 768 runs at an average of 51.
“Chemar Holder is an exciting young fast bowling talent who is coming off an excellent domestic First-Class season. He should enjoy bowling in English conditions. Jermaine Blackwood returns by sheer weight of performance in the domestic First-Class season. His patience and application were evident,” CWI’s Lead Selector, Roger Harper said.
“The new cricketing environment will take some getting used to. However, being in England and working together for four weeks before the first Test will give the squad the opportunity to get acclimatized and hopefully, mentally and technically adjusted to the demands of the new environment. Playing in July could be a blessing as the weather is likely to be warmer which will allow the squad more of an opportunity to play its best cricket,” he added.
The selectors have also named 11 reserve players which include the likes of Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Ambris, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican and Keon Harding. Gabriel, who last played in a Test against India in August 2019, is making a return to the set-up after undergoing a surgery on his troublesome ankle.
The Jason Holder-led West Indies squad will, “train and play in a bio-secure environment during the seven weeks of the tour, as part of the comprehensive medical and operations plans to ensure player and staff safety”. The first Test of the series will be played in Southampton. The second and third Test of the rubber will take place at Old Trafford, starting on July 16 and 24 respectively. This series, which was previously supposed to be held in May and June, will also mark the resumption of cricket. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, no international matches have been played since Australia took on New Zealand in an ODI in March this year.
West Indies squad: Jason Holder (c), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rakheem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach
Reserve players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican