BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Amid concern about experienced players not making themselves available to represent West Indies, captain Nicholas Pooran said he is satisfied and confident in the team he will lead into the One-Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand here today.
West Indies will be fighting for their first ODI series win in two months, having last emerged victorious in a series in the format in June against The Netherlands and since then being whitewashed by India and Bangladesh at home and Pakistan away.
Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the first of the three ODIs at Kensington Oval, Pooran said while some members of the squad are not as experienced, he was confident in their talent and their commitment to improvement as the regional side seek to break their ODI losing streak.
"Unfortunately, we disappoint at times, we're not good at times, but … I'm happy with their effort. If you look back, these are the same guys who went to Pakistan twice in a COVID situation, then in 45 to 50-degree temperature played their cricket, and these guys gained my respect and they're giving their all for West Indies at the moment, so I'm really happy from a captain's perspective. I'm really happy with who I have here. I believe in these guys and eventually, we'll get to where we want to," he said.
Pooran added that they had learned a lot from the summer of losses, but noted they were going into the ODI series on the back of some improvement in the three-match T20I series which they just lost 2-1 to New Zealand.
"I think we have been playing well. Out of the last three games we played two wonderful games. Unfortunately, we haven't crossed the line but we had a long summer and we have learned a lot from these games that we have played. I think the guys are ready for this challenge," the Windies skipper said.
"Bangladesh and India obviously really hurt us but… we feel like we're in a good place as an ODI team at the moment. We know we have a young bunch of guys but over the last couple of months we've gained a lot of experience and knowledge.
"We know how important this series is for us as a group. Going into Barbados we expect to have good cricket pitches here and hopefully we can cross the line," he added.
Pooran said he was proud of the young unit that has been representing the Caribbean and believed they were headed in the right direction.
"We are learning and we're seeing the performances on the cricket field as well. We're seeing some really good performance not just by one individual but by different individuals and that's really nice to see," the captain said, noting that it was important that leading up to the ICC T20 World Cup later this year in Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup in India in 2023, it was important for them to "play together as long as possible so we can understand how we play together".
"I think we're building in the right direction, to be honest… and we will get to where we want to in time but we need to be putting in the hard work now," he said.
"I love this bunch of guys and they have been going out and giving their best. These guys are special to me and I like the way that they're playing cricket at the moment," he said.
The West Indies will be playing without left-handed batsman Shimron Hetmyer who is unavailable due to personal reasons, allrounder Keemo Paul who was ruled out with an injury, and left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie who failed to recover from the hand injury sustained during the CG United Series against India last month.
Pooran admitted not having Motie, one of the standout bowlers in the last series, was a blow to the West Indies.
However, he said the squad had confidence that leg-spinning allrounder Yannic Cariah — who earned his first squad call-up for the West Indies after being promoted from the West Indies A squad that has been playing against Bangladesh — and Guyanese offspin-bowling allrounder Kevin Sinclair, who is making his ODI debut, "will deliver for us".
In addition to Cariah's inclusion, middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood has been called up for the ODI squad for the first time since 2015. Seam-bowling allrounder Odean Smith has also been added as a reserve.
The three matches in the ODI series against New Zealand are West Indies's last remaining fixtures in the ICC ODI Super League to automatically qualify for the 2023 ICC World Cup in India.
All three ODIs will be day/night matches played under floodlights at Kensington Oval, with the second and third CG United ODIs on August 19 and 21.
FULL SQUAD; Nicholas Pooran (captain), Shai Hope (vice captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Shamarh Brooks, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Jayden Seales, Kevin Sinclair.
Travelling reserve: Odean Smith.