BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said yesterday mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine had not been discarded but given time off from what had been a gruelling schedule.
Narine, the region's frontline spinner for the last two years, was left out of the 13-man squad for the opening Test against Zimbabwe which bowls off at Kensington Oval here tomorrow.
He has been replaced by off-spinner Shane Shillingford who last played on the tour of England last spring.
"I think he (Narine) was (considered for selection). The selectors, from my understanding, thought that since he has come into international cricket, he has played every format," Gibson told reporters.
"He has played a lot of cricket and they wanted to give him a break more than anything else from the intensity of this cricket and let him get back and start to enjoy his cricket a little bit more.
"He is playing for Trinidad and obviously enjoying it, getting wickets and stuff like that. He is young to international cricket and I'm sure he is somebody that has a huge part to play for us in all formats."
Narine has been successful in the shorter versions of the game but has had a modest impact in Tests, with just 15 wickets from five matches at an average of 48.
He was particularly average on the tour of Bangladesh late last year when he managed just three wickets from 78 overs over the two Tests.
Narine has been joined on the sidelines by experienced right-hander Ramnaresh Sarwan who has not yet played a Test in nearly two years.
The 32-year-old was recently recalled to the One-Day side after a similar protracted spell outside the selection frame but struggled in Australia with 12 runs in three innings, including two noughts.
While he signalled a return to some form with an unbeaten century against Zimbabwe in the second One-Dayer earlier this month, Gibson said there was no room at present for Sarwan in the middle order.
"At the moment (for Sarwan) it's just about getting back and getting confident, for somebody like Sars who is full of experience and stuff like that," Gibson explained.
"If you look at the batting line up at the moment, the batting line up seems to be settled. We played five batsmen in Bangladesh and made a lot of runs.
"It's hard to fit him in but at the same time we know his quality and once he gets used to getting runs again in regional cricket and I would like to think that once there is a spot available, he would find himself in that spot."