Alick Athanaze, who has yet to represent the national team, was included in the 13-player squad and will continue to be part of it.
In the 13-member West Indies squad that will confront India in the initial Test starting from July 12 in Dominica, left-handed batsman Kirk McKenzie has received his first selection, while spinners Rahkeem Cornwall and Jomel Warrican have been brought back into the team. Additionally, uncapped batsman Alick Athanaze has been retained in the squad after accompanying the West Indies team to South Africa for the previous Test series, even though he didn’t have an opportunity to play.
According to Desmond Haynes, the lead selector of Cricket West Indies (CWI), an opportunity has arisen for the two spinners due to Gudakesh Motie’s ongoing rehabilitation for a lower-back injury. While Kyle Mayers and fast bowler Jayden Seales were recovering from minor issues, they were not considered to avoid further damages. In addition, Tevin Imlach, a wicketkeeper-batsman, and Akeem Jordan, a right-arm fast bowler, were announced as the two reserve players who will travel with the team for the first Test match.
The pace bowling unit for the upcoming match will consist of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, and Jason Holder, while Raymon Reifer has been included as the all-rounder in the team.
Haynes says, “Jayden Seales has been with us in the training camp, and his recovery from surgery has shown promising progress. However, we believe he is not fully prepared to make a comeback yet, and we don’t want to take any risks at this point.” He added, “Kyle Mayers was also under consideration, but he is dealing with some minor issues, and as a precautionary measure, we have decided not to include him in the demanding five-day match at this stage.”
As mentioned, Gudakesh Motie is currently undergoing rehabilitation, which has opened up a chance for Warrican and Cornwall to contribute to the spin bowling department. Both players have previous experience at the Test match level and possess the necessary skills to fulfill the role.
During the recent ‘A’ Team tour of Bangladesh, we were highly impressed by the batting approach displayed by McKenzie and Athanaze. These two talented youngsters achieved commendable scores and demonstrated remarkable maturity in their gameplay. Based on their performances, they deserve a well-earned opportunity.
In Bangladesh, during their participation with the A team in May, McKenzie (22 years old) and Athanaze (24 years old) achieved two half-centuries each. McKenzie showcased his batting prowess with scores of 91 and 86 in Sylhet, following his impressive tally of 221 runs during the Headley Weekes Tri-Series competition in April. On the other hand, Athanaze recently made a significant impact by recording the joint-fastest fifty on his ODI debut against UAE in Sharjah. Moreover, Athanaze’s noteworthy performances earned him a contract with the Barbados Royals in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
McKenzie, who made his first-class debut for Jamaica last year, has participated in only nine matches at that level, maintaining an average of 39.40. During this time, he accumulated 591 runs, including one century and four half-centuries.
Cornwall and Warrican’s most recent Test appearances occurred in Sri Lanka towards the end of 2021. While Warrican was part of the tour to Zimbabwe earlier this year, he did not feature in any matches. Additionally, he was also absent from the subsequent time of South Africa.
Cornwall, who made his Test debut against India in 2019, has been selected based on his impressive performances in recent first-class cricket. He emerged as the leading wicket-taker in the previous first-class season, claiming 35 wickets in just five matches. Notably, he achieved four five-wicket hauls during this period. In addition to his bowling exploits, Cornwall showcased his batting ability by scoring two half-centuries.
The upcoming series between West Indies and India marks the beginning of a new cycle (2023-2025) in the World Test Championship. In the previous iteration, West Indies secured the eighth position out of nine teams, winning only four out of their 13 matches during that period.
The initial Test match is set to occur from July 12 to 16, followed by the second Test in Port of Spain starting on July 20. Subsequently, the two teams will compete in three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and five Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).
The West Indies squad for the first Test against India comprises the following players: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Alick Athanaze, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kirk McKenzie, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach, and Jomel Warrican. The traveling reserves for the team are Tevin Imlach and Akeem Jordan.