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Selectors 'fast-tracking' Seales but Harding not discarded — Harper

Saturday, October 24, 2020

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Teenager Jayden Seales' surprise inclusion in the West Indies touring party for the two-Test series in New Zealand was a move aimed at “fast-tracking” the inexperienced fast bowler's development, convenor of selectors Roger Harper has said.

The 19-year-old Seales was last week named as one of six reserves who will accompany the 15-man Test squad, despite not having played a single first- class match or domestic Super50 game.

And even though the more experienced 23-year-old speedster Keon Harding was overlooked by selectors despite travelling with the Test squad on the England tour last July, Harper argued it was not a case of Seales being pushed ahead of other players.

“Remember when we went to England we took 10 reserves,” Harper explained.

“Here we have just six reserves and the opportunity here was to include Jayden Seales in an effort to give him some exposure and sort of fast-track his development; let him have an opportunity to experience what the environment is like at the highest level with a view to fast-tracking his development.

“It's not a case of him necessarily leapfrogging the other players who went to England, and because of the limited number of places that's why some of the players who went to England missed out as well.”

Seales came to the fore at the International Cricket Council Under-19 World Cup in South Africa earlier this year, when he picked up 10 wickets for West Indies, while producing a couple of quick spells.

However, he has yet to play any senior team cricket, with his only taste of professional action coming when he turned out in six games for Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League which ended last month.

Harding, meanwhile, has taken 54 wickets in 17 first-class matches and 34 in 20 List A outings. Last season, he bowled superbly to take 29 wickets at 23 runs apiece in seven matches, helping Barbados Pride to lift the regional first class title.

And while 25-year-old left-armed seamer Preston McSween, who took 31 first-class wickets last season is again among the reserves for New Zealand, no space has been found for Harding.

Harper said he had spoken to Barbadian Harding and explained his non-selection had not been a snub.

“It's a smaller number of reserves and we sort of tailored it to meet the needs of the team,” said the former West Indies off-spinner.

“I think Keon – as I explained to him – is still in the forefront of our minds and there would be other opportunities as well. Harding is not the only one from that tour of reserves that went to England that has missed out.”

Left-armed, fast-bowling, all-rounder Raymon Reifer, whose only Test came three years ago in New Zealand, joins McSween as the only other seamer among the reserves.