BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts has bemoaned the lack of "settled unit" ahead of next month's Twenty20 World Cup, and believes West Indies will not find it "easy" to qualify for the main draw of the tournament.
The 71-year-old, also a former selector, said the West Indies 15-man squad announced for the October 16 to November 13 campaign reflected too much chopping and changing at this advanced stage of preparations.
As evidence, he pointed to the inclusion of uncapped all-rounders Yannic Cariah and Raymon Reifer, batsman Johnson Charles – who has not featured for West Indies in six years – and fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who has not played a T20 International in seven months.
"When you're preparing, you're preparing months ahead and you try to settle on a team that goes out on the field from the first game," Sir Andy told Starcom Radio's Mason and Guest cricket programme.
"For that final XI, you don't keep trying this and trying that until the end — you try in the earlier parts. I think by now with all those T20s that we played in the last year, we should have a settled team going into the World Cup, instead of bringing new players in – some who haven't played T20s for nearly10 years.
"All of a sudden we're resurrecting people trying to build a team, when we should have the team already.
"And all you do [at this stage] is for different games, you just bring in one [player] so that you have a settled unit. I don't know if anyone can say our T20 team is settled."
He added: "Cariah has not been playing any T20 cricket…I'm wondering, how did he get picked? On what basis was his selection warranted?
"Cottrell has been thrown aside and all of a sudden he's back. On what basis? Raymon Reifer? On what basis are you picking Raymon Reifer?"
West Indies will have to navigate a tricky eight-team pre-tournament qualifying series in order to make it into the main draw. Installed in Group B, they will take on Scotland, Ireland and Zimbabwe, with the top-two teams in each group advancing.
Two-time World champions, the Caribbean side are heavily favoured to easily make it through but Sir Andy said qualification could prove a more difficult task than expected.
"I don't think it is going to be easy to qualify. I don't think so," Sir Andy warned.
"We don't have a settled team. We fiddled around with the team and that is our biggest problem. If you don't know what your teammates are capable of doing because he just comes into the team, [that is a problem].
"When West Indies was at its best, we had a settled team for five, 10 years and if you check on Australia, Australia has a settled team, Pakistan has a settled team.
"India are fiddling around with their team and look at the problems they're having now. You need settled teams."
He added: "We're going with a number of new players, new to the international scene. We know that this World Cup was going to be this year. We know that from long time so we should have been trying our best to make sure we have a unit that was ready to go from ball one."
The squad will be led by Nicholas Pooran with Rovman Powell as vice-captain, and includes the likes of all-rounder Jason Holder, middle-order batsman Shimron Hetmyer and opener Evin Lewis, the latter of whom has not played for West Indies since the last T20 World Cup almost a year ago.