Former spinner Nehemiah Perry says he believes West Indies selectors "did their best" in picking the squad for the upcoming Twenty20 (T20) Cricket World Cup even as he conceded he was not in unanimous agreement with the choices.
Explosive all-rounder Andre Russell, ace spinner Sunil Narine, and all-action player Fabian Allen were among high-profile stars not named in the 15-member squad announced last month.
Thirty-year-old Hayden Walsh, who, though inconsistent, had emerged as the main wrist-spinner for the regional side in white-ball cricket, also misses out. Trinidadian Yannic Cariah, 30, who at the time had never played a T20 match for West Indies and did not feature in the 2022 Caribbean Premier League (CPL), was the like-for-like replacement for Walsh.
"All in all I think the selectors did their best, and we will have to see how it goes," Perry said about the West Indies squad for the T20 showpiece which is to start later this month in Australia.
"I wouldn't have gone the Yannic Cariah way. I would rather see a Hayden Walsh in that set-up because of his all-round game," the former Jamaica and West Indies off-spinner told the Jamaica Observer.
Incidentally, on Wednesday, Cariah, on debut, was the West Indies team's most economical bowler with 1-15 as they went down by three wickets to hosts Australia in the opening T20 of their two-match series.
Perry said the omission of Allen, 27, was also a surprise.
"When I didn't see Fabian Allen in that squad I was also taken aback. He was just starting to look like the old Fabian Allen in a couple of [CPL] games. He was out of cricket for a while for family reasons [Allen's father died earlier this year] and maybe that is what caused that sort of decision.
"Russell is another case in which he wasn't really knocking down the door in the [CPL] T20 tournament. Yes, he's a person who on his day will win a game for you," he said.
While welcoming the return of Evin Lewis, who for months had been at odds with selectors due to fitness concerns, Perry said the West Indies team is stronger with elite cricketers like Narine, but only if they are in top form.
"I would love to see those people in the team, if they are on song. Players like Narine, too, to strengthen the team some more.
"I see where Evin Lewis is back and we hope that he will add some firepower to the top. I think he's one of the key players to West Indies success," he noted.
After the squad was named, Chief Selector Desmond Haynes had said in a television interview that his panel "decided to move on" from Russell, 34, when considering the squad for the World Cup. About the 34-year-old Narine, Haynes had said in a press conference that "it seemed that he was not interested".
Perry, who played four Tests and 21 One-Day Internationals for the regional team between 1999 and 2000, said the West Indies have an outside chance of upsetting the applecart at the World Cup, given the nature of T20 cricket.
But he told the Observer he believes the former two-time champions lack the depth to go all the way this time around.
"You never know in T20 cricket; it's a short version and it just takes a one special moment to win a game. I don't know if we have the depth, in terms of bowling and batting and fielding, to win a world title.
"I'm not ruling out West Indies because they've won it twice, but I think then they had better quality and better depth in the squad," he explained.
West Indies are scheduled to open their World Cup campaign against Scotland on October 16.
Squad — Nicholas Pooran (captain), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Yannic Cariah, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy, Raymon Reifer, Odean Smith.