Shock recall for Gayle, Edwards as stars return for Sri Lanka seriesSaturday, February 27, 2021
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — Selectors yesterday handed a shock recall to fast bowler Fidel Edwards, at age 39 and after nearly 10 years out of international cricket, to play on a 14-man squad for the three-match Twenty20 (T20) International series against Sri Lanka starting here next Wednesday.
Barbadian Edwards has been joined by another veteran, 41-year-old opener Chris Gayle, who has returned to the international set-up after nearly two years out of the side.
Uncapped Guyanese off-spinner Kevin Sinclair has been named in both the T20 and One-Day International (ODI) squads which will be led as expected by Kieron Pollard, but there is no room for all-rounder Andre Russell who only recently recovered after contracting COVID-19.
Left-hander Shimron Hetmyer, who has starred for Guyana Jaguars in the ongoing Regional Super50 Cup here, was not considered for selection for either squad after failing a fitness test.
All-rounder Roston Chase, along with fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas, were also overlooked after failing fitness tests, one of the major selection criteria.
Pollard is one of eight players who missed the ODI tour of Bangladesh over COVID-19 concerns and personal reasons, but has returned to strengthen the squad.
However, the selection of Edwards was the surprise name in the T20 squad, especially since he only recently announced his intention to represent West Indies again.
Having spent several seasons with English County Hampshire, Edwards became available to play international cricket again due to Brexit – the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union – which ended Kolpak deals in county cricket.
Edwards, who played 50 Tests and 50 ODIs, departed Hampshire last year and subsequently turned out for Jamaica Tallawahs, grabbing nine wickets at an average of 25 and an economy rate of 7 ½ runs per over.
Gayle, meanwhile, has not featured for West Indies since India's tour of the Caribbean in 2019 when he made 87 runs from three innings in the three-match ODI series.
Still a potent force on the global T20 franchise circuit, he last turned out in a T20 International two years ago against England in the Caribbean, finishing with 20 runs from two outings.
Chief Selector Roger Harper said Gayle still brought “great value” to the T20 squad while Edwards added “potent firepower” to the attack.
“As we build towards the defence of the T20 World Cup, the opportunity is being taken to determine our best team and squad as we go forward,” Harper explained.
“Chris Gayle has performed very well in recent tournaments and the selection panel thinks that he can still add great value to our team. Fidel Edwards has been selected to give the bowling the potent firepower needed.”
The 21-year-old Sinclair, meanwhile, starred in the 2019 Super50 with 13 wickets to fire the West Indies Emerging Team to the title but had ordinary campaigns in last year's Caribbean Premier League and the ongoing Super50.
Left-armed spinner Akeal Hosein, who made his ODI debut against Bangladesh earlier this month, has been named in both squads, along with Test Captain Jason Holder, and Harper said the combinations provided for a varied West Indies in attack in both formats.
“Jason Holder has shown his all-round value in this format in recent times and after missing a few series he will add depth and experience to the squad,” Harper noted.
“Akeal Hosein performed very well in Bangladesh [ODI Series] and had excellent stats in the CPL so this is an opportunity to see how he equips himself in this format.
“Kevin Sinclair grabbed our attention in the Super50 Cup back in 2019, and has been consistently economical in the last CPL [Caribbean Premier League] and the current CG Insurance Super50. He will provide an off-spinning option for the team.”
Pollard, along with Holder, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran, missed the recent Bangladesh tour due to COVID-19 fears, while fast bowler Romario Shepherd was ruled out after contracting COVID-19.
Their return means the departure of most of the replacement players who travelled to Bangladesh for the three-match series.
West Indies take on Sri Lanka in the first T20 International at Coolidge Cricket Ground under lights.
T20I – Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabien Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair.
ODI – Kieron Pollard (captain), Shai Hope (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Jason Mohammed, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair.
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