With Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul turning down the invitation to tour England for a three-Test series starting July 8, West Indies' national selector Roger Harper announced a new-look 25-man touring party.
The West Indian contingent is slated to arrive in England on June 9. The tour remains subject to the UK government's final approval, but necessary precautions are set to be taken in cricket's first behind-closed-doors Test tour. The West Indies will be based at Emirates Old Trafford for an initial quarantine period and training.
The three-Test series will be played in bio-secure venues, with the Ageas Bowl in Southampton hosting the first Test on July 8. The following two Tests will be played at Old Trafford, and will start on July 16 and July 24.
The West Indies have an initial 14-man squad led by Jason Holder, with an additional 11 reserve players to call on from. The 14-man squad currently has two uncapped players in Nkrumah Bonner and Chemar Holder. In the absence of Bravo and Hetmyer, West Indies will have the experience of Jermaine Blackwood and domestic stalwart Bonner to lend solidity to the middle order.
Here, we run through the lesser-known faces from the 25-man West Indies squad- both returning members and fresh faces, who have created a stir in the regional first-class competition this season.
West Indies' Fresh Faces
Chemar Holder: A potential debutant, the 22-year-old quick has long been heralded as the ‘next big thing’ in the West Indies' pace circuit, deeming his call-up as hardly surprising.
He turned heads following an impressionable new-ball partnership with Alzarri Joseph, troubling the batsmen with raw pace in West Indies’ victorious 2016 U19 World Cup campaign. His ability to extract bounce from even the most docile surfaces- not unlike his idol Curtly Ambrose- gives him an edge over other pacemen.
Such explosiveness makes him a serious contender for a spot in the XI, considering the conditions the West Indies will face in England.
Holder, representing West Indies ‘A’ against India ‘A’ last year at home, finished as the leading wicket-taker in the four-day Tests, clinching 15 wickets at just 22 runs apiece. Few of his notable victims included Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari and Shivam Dube. Lately, he emerged as the leading wicket-taker among seamers in the regional competition, with 36 scalps at an average of 18.9.
Jermaine Blackwood: A returning-member of the squad, Blackwood has played 28 Tests since 2014, averaging a little over 30. Recently, he became only the second concussion substitute in Test cricket when he replaced Darren Bravo against India at Sabina Park last year.
Blackwood topped the batting charts in the regional competition this season, with 768 runs at an average of 51.2. This included a record-breaking 248 against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes. His experience playing Tests in England can come in handy.
Raymon Reifer: Reifer, the left-arm seamer, is perhaps a like-for-like replacement for Keemo Paul in terms of his all-round abilities, given his proven lower-order runs.
While he lends variety in an attack dominated by right-handed seamers, he can call on his past knowledge being a member of the touring party which played three Tests in England in 2017. In his only Test appearance against New Zealand in 2017 in Hamilton, he prised out the key wickets of Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham.
Nkrumah Bonner: The 31-year-old Jamaican will return to the West Indian side after almost 8 years. He played two T20Is for West Indies- one each against England at The Oval and Australia in St. Lucia. He started off primarily as a leg-spinning all-rounder, but now considers batting as his superior craft after consistent middle-order runs.
He finished as the fourth-highest run-scorer in the regional competition, with 523 runs in seven matches at an average of 58.11. His ability to hold the innings together and bat through testing times could be handy given West Indies’ batting woes.
West Indies Reserve players:
Keon Harding: The 23-year-old right-arm quick made big strides for Combined College and Campuses in domestic tournaments. He regularly opens the bowling with Chemar Holder for Barbados, and finished as the fourth-highest wicket-taker after snaring 29 wickets in 7 games this year.
Marquino Mindley: The 25-year-old Jamaican pacer impressed the-then national selector Clive Lloyd with his sheer pace following a decent show at the 2014 U19 World Cup. He finished as the fifth-highest wicket-taker among seamers, with 24 wickets at 22.66 runs apiece in six regional competition games this year. In his only 5-for against Leewards Islands, he snared the wickets of Kieran Powell and Hayden Walsh Jr.
Joshua da Silva: The 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman is one of the upcoming batting talents from Trinidad and Tobago. In eight games, he averaged 50.70 with the bat, which included an unbeaten knock of 113 against Jamaica facing the likes of Rovman Powell, Derval Green and Marquino Mindley.
Despite scoring three fifties, converting starts into big scores remains a work-in-progress, according to West Indies selector Roger Harper and Trinidad and Tobago skipper Darren Bravo. However, his composure against all forms of bowling stood out for Harper.
Anderson Phillip: The Trinidadian right-arm quick earns his spot in the reserve party after his tally of 52 wickets in 14 first-class games. Recently having returned from injury, he picked up 21 wickets in three games- including career-best figures of 6/19- averaging a miserly 12.05.
Sheyne Moseley: The 26-year-old Barbadian opener scored 490 runs at 43.32, including an unbeaten knock of 155. The southpaw is well-renowned for his dogged partnerships with Test opener Kraigg Braithwaite at the top of the order.
Kyle Mayers: With over 1300 first-class runs to his name, the Barbadian all-rounder shone with the bat this season, and amassed 630 runs at an average of 50.31.
Preston McSween: The young Barbadian left-arm seamer picked up 31 wickets at an average of 22.7, which included his maiden 5-for against Guyana this February. Few of his notable scalps included West Indian internationals Shimron Hetmyer, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo.
West Indies squad in full: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach
West Indies reserve players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Sheyne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican