The odd surprise but this is a well-balanced WI squad
Fabian Allen of Jamaica Tallawahs hits a four during the Caribbean Premier League 6IXTY men’s match against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots at Warner Park Sporting Complex in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on Thursday, August 25, 2022. (Photo: CPL via Getty Images)

Such is the passage of time that only one member of Mr Daren Sammy's team which defeated England in a sensational final in 2016 — featuring Mr Carlos Brathwaite's four-consecutive final-over sixes — is part of the West Indies squad for the ICC Twenty20 (T20) World Cup in Australia starting next month.

That individual is Mr Johnson Charles, batter and wicketkeeper, who last played for the West Indies in 2016. Only two others in the current squad, Messrs Jason Holder and Evin Lewis, both 30, were part of the triumphant squad in 2016.

At 33, Mr Charles and the veteran left-arm pacer Mr Sheldon Cottrell are the oldest members of the 2022 squad led by Mr Nicholas Pooran.

Despite being the only side to have won the T20 World Cup twice, the West Indies — by dint of its low ranking — will have to first qualify from a group including Ireland, Zimbabwe and Scotland to play in the Super 12 phase of the World Cup. They will open against Scotland in Hobart, Tasmania, on October 17.

The West Indies squad is mature and experienced. Four 25-year-olds, Messrs Shimron Hetmyer, Alzarri Joseph, Obed McCoy, and Odean Smith — all part of a group which won the Under-19 World Cup in 2016 — are the youngest.

Absentees include the T20 superstar Mr Andre Russell, 34, who has been way below his best in recent times. He last played for the West Indies at the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman late last year — a member of an ageing squad which disappointed.

For this newspaper, the more surprising omission is that of 27-year-old high-impact player Mr Fabian Allen, who has not played for the West Indies since February, largely because of what he revealed recently was grief at the loss of his father. Among the world's finest fielders, Mr Allen commands respect for his power hitting and steady left-arm spin.

We are intrigued by the inclusion of wrist-spinning all-rounder Mr Yannic Cariah, who is so lightly regarded in T20 cricket, he is not part of any of the current Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchises. Yet, Mr Cariah has long commanded respect from knowledgeable observers. He replaces wrist-spinner Mr Haydn Walsh, whose form has declined.

Also intriguing is the inclusion of Mr Lewis, a hard-hitting left-hand batsman. His worth is not in question but Mr Lewis has been ignored recently because of issues related to fitness. We have not heard if those issues have been resolved.

All-rounder Mr Raymon Reifer, whose batting in all formats has improved by leaps and bounds in recent times, is rewarded for his good form for Jamaica Tallawahs in the current CPL. We suspect considerable thought went into including him ahead of Mr Allen.

Overall, this is a well-balanced squad with four specialist fast bowlers: Messrs Joseph, Cottrell, McCoy and Smith, supported by the medium pacers, Holder, Reifer and Kyle Mayers, are expected to make the most of bouncy Australian pitches. The left-arm orthodox Mr Akeal Hosein and Cariah are the spinners, while Messrs Pooran, Rovman Powell, Brandon King, Charles, Hetmyer, Mayers, Holder, and Reifer will be called on to provide the bulk of the runs at a pace fast enough to win T20 games.We wish them well.

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