Four newcomers named in West Indies training squad

By Derrick Nicholas, ESPN Cricinfo

West Indies selectors today named four newcomers and a pair of players who have been in the cricket wilderness for the last three years, in a 22-member training squad. The camp, which will be held in Trinidad from 21st – 28th March, is to prepare the West Indies team for the forthcoming Cable & Wireless home series against India.

Windward Islands’ opening batsman Devon Smith, Jamaican off-spin all-rounder Gareth Breese, along with Leeward Islands’ fast bowlers Adam Sanford and Jamaican Darrell Powell are the four newcomers included in the squad ahead of the series of five Tests and five limited-overs internationals against the Indians.

Meanwhile, captain and opening batsman for the Leeward Islands, Stuart Williams and Windward Islands’ wicketkeeper/batsman Junior Murray, two players who have not featured in recent selections, have also been included in the squad that will be encamped in Trinidad.

Also making their return to the senior team lineup are former West Indies captain Brian Lara along with Ramnaresh Sarwan. Lara was injured during the ill-fated Sri Lankan tour. Lara recently started net practice following a near three-month break from the game. The double world record holder had his right elbow dislocated during a limited overs international against Sri Lanka last December.

Meanwhile, Sarwan returned to cricket during Guyana’s final preliminary match against Leeward Islands after a two-month break last week. The Guyanese right handed batsman pulled out of the team’s training camp just prior to the series against Pakistan earlier this year with a back injury. Both players have recently recovered from their injuries.

“All members of the squad, especially Lara and Sarwan, will be subject to fitness and medical examinations prior and during the camp before they become eligible for selection,” remarked Gregory Shillingford, chief executive officer of the West Indies Cricket Board.

Smith, Breese, Sanford and Powell, as well as Williams and Murray have all been rewarded for creditable performances in the ongoing Busta Cricket Series.

Smith, a left handed opening batsman, scored the most runs — 750 at an average of 62.50 — during the preliminary competition of the Busta Series, but his Windward Islands side has been eliminated from the semi-finals of the Busta International Shield.

Breese is a strong contender for the Best All-rounder award in the Busta Series. He has so far made 360 runs at an average of 45.00 and captured 35 wickets at 19.45 apiece for Jamaica.

Sanford, Dominican by birth, burst onto the scene in this year’s Busta Series after encouraging performances for his native Antigua & Barbuda during the Leeward Islands championship last year. He has taken 37 wickets at 24.24 each.

Powell was named on Saturday to attend the Shell Cricket Academy of the St. George’s University in Grenada in May. He has impressed no less a judge than Andy Roberts, the former West Indies fast bowler, and has taken 23 wickets at 16.36 apiece in six matches for Jamaica.

Williams, who was a member of the 1999 World Cup team, played the last of his 28 Tests against South Africa at Port Elizabeth four years ago. The Leeward Islands captain has been recalled after a productive season in the Busta Series in which he has gathered 722 runs at an average of 72.20, making him the second highest scorer.

Murray, who has played 31 Tests and 55 limited-overs internationals, but has not featured for West Indies since the 1998-99 tour of South Africa, has also earned a recall after scoring heavily in the Busta Series. He has struck four centuries in his 642 runs at 53.50 in seven matches for the Windwards.

Also being considered by the selection panel is Mahendra Nagamootoo, who has been overlooked since the 2000-2001 tour of Australia. The leg-spin bowler ended the preliminary competition of the Busta Series with the most wickets — 41 at 20.19 apiece.

All the other members of the training squad have featured in recent West Indies series. Noticeably absent from the training camp is captain and opening batsman for Barbados, Sherwin Campbell, who was recently included in the West Indies touring team to Sharjah.

Training squad:
Carl Hooper (captain), Marlon Black, Gareth Breese, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Pedro Collins, Cameron Cuffy, Mervyn Dillon, Daren Ganga, Chris Gayle, Ryan Hinds, Wavell Hinds, Ridley Jacobs, Brian Lara, Runako Morton, Junior Murray, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Darrell Powell, Dinanath Ramnarine, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Adam Sanford, Stuart Williams.

Photo: West Indies Test players

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