by Clayton Goodwin

West Indies return again this summer

The West Indies team selected to defend the Richards Botham Trophy in England next month contains a greater number of names than usual that will be unknown to the host country but has the potential to surprise –  following their encouraging visit to Australia during the winter. The combative qualities of captain / opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite, his predecessor allrounder Jason Holder, and fast bowler Kemar Roach are well-known. Alzarri Joseph, vice-captain and fast bowler, has impressed, as has wicket-keeper Joshua da Silva with bat as well as gloves, and newcomer, fast bowler, Shamar Joseph was the talking-point of the recent tour to Australia. In county cricket this summer Jayden Seales, the fourth fast bowler, has delivered on his early promise.

The pace attack of Roach, Seales, Holder and the two Josephs should present a particular danger to England. Although it is too soon to mention them in the same breath as the fast bowling batteries of earlier decades, this quintet has the potential to be the most impressive West Indies attack for many years. The difficulty choice for the captain will be whom to leave out of the team in such a short visit. That is an embarrassment de riche compared to the worry of what to do about the batting which has continued to under-perform. With the omission of Jermaine Blackwood, who provided some punch to the middle-order, and Shai Hope not developing quite expected as the hope of the future, it seems that quite a few have been called but few chosen. Much is expected of  Mikyle Louis, the 23 year-old opening batsman, who, if selected, would be the first Kittitian to wear the Maroon Cap.

The team are set to arrive in England on 23rd June for a training camp at Tonbridge School ahead of a warm-up match at Beckenham starting on 4th July. The Test Matches are due to be played at Lord’s from 10-14th July, Nottingham from 18th-22nd July, and Birmingham from 26-30th July.

Lead selector Desmond Haynes, the former Test Match opening batsman and vice-captain, expressed confidence in the squad’s composition, “The squad has been shaped with both experience and emerging talent, ensuring a strong balance as we face the challenge of playing in English conditions. Over the past year, our red-ball program has continued to develop. Following our victory in the last Test in Australia in January, it is evident that we are seeing the fruits of that investment. Each player selected has earned their place through consistent performances and hard work. We are confident that this blend of seasoned players and emerging faces will perform admirably against England.”

Young Fast Bowler Jayden Seales returns to the squad having missed the last Test Series against Australia due to injury and experienced all-rounder Jason Holder has earned a recall having made himself unavailable for the last tour. There is also a first international selection for 23-year-old opening batsman Mikyle Louis.  Louis, a former West Indies U19 International, scored 682 runs in his debut First Class season for the Leeward Island Hurricanes at an average of 48.71. Should he debut for the West Indies in England, he will become the first Kittian to wear the famous Maroon test cap.

The West Indies 15-member test squad is as follows:
Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain)
Alick Athanaze
Joshua Da Silva
Jason Holder
Kavem Hodge
Tevin Imlach
Alzarri Joseph (Vice-Captain)
Shamar Joseph
Mikyle Louis
Zachary McCaskie
Kirk McKenzie
Gudakesh Motie
Kemar Roach
Jayden Seales
Kevin Sinclair 

These players will be supported by the following team management unit:
Head Coach – Andre Coley
Team Manager – Rawl Lewis
Assistant Coach – Jimmy Adams
Assistant Coach – Rayon Griffith
Assistant Coach – Shaun Tait 
Physiotherapist – Dr. Denis Byam
Strength & Conditioning Coach – Ronald Rogers
Team Masseuse – Fitzbert Alleyne
Team Analyst – Avenesh Seetram  

The 19-year-old fast bowler, Isai Thorne will travel with the squad as a development player, following impressive performances in this debut First Class season taking 31 wickets at average 16.29 in his first eight matches.

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