West Indies are shorn of a number of first-choice players like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, the Bravo brothers, Darren and Dwayne, Adrian Barath, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, and Sulieman Benn. But West Indies captain Darren Sammy preferred to see the two matches as a chance to give some valuable exposure to some talented players.
“We will look to give everyone an opportunity to play as we build toward the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next year, but this weekend is also geared toward winning,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of T20 matches at the international level before next year’s tournament, so we have to look to make the most of every opportunity we get to identify the right players for the job to get the combinations right and to create that winning environment.”
He added: “The team might be full of young players, but they can cope. We are in a no-fear environment.”
West Indies have won two of the three Twenty20 matches they’ve played against England at The Oval, but with so many leading players absent, no warm-up matches for the visitors, and the lesser experienced players are likely to struggle in autumnal English conditions, Graeme Swann’s side have been installed favourites to win both matches.
Sammy acknowledged that the English were enjoying a highly successful summer during which they claimed the World No1 Test side status but they too are missing a number of key players through injury and are also taking the time to blood a few new faces. The two matches were organised at this time for the England & Wales Cricket Board to make good on a television broadcasting agreement with Sky Sports that originally included the Stanford Super Series.
Sammy said Stanford’s impact on the game in the Caribbean was immense and helped to unearth some of the talent that West Indies will put on the field over the weekend. “With all due respect to what Stanford did in the Caribbean, I don’t think it could be replaced,” he said. West Indies are likely to open with the uncapped pair of Johnson Charles and Miles Bascombe.
Marlon Samuels is expected to lead the middle-order batting and Danza Hyatt will be looking to take his explosive batting to the next level with the rest of the frontline batting likely to comprise a plethora of all-rounders like Sammy, Andre Russell, comeback-kid Dwayne Smith, Christopher Barnwell, the uncapped pair leg-spin all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner, as well as uncapped wicketkeeper/batsman Derwin Christian. The bowling has some strength with Fidel Edwards is likely to spearhead the attack, with the uncapped pair of left-arm fast-medium bowler Krishmar Santokie and left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin waiting in the wings, and ICC Emerging Player-of-the-Year Devendra Bishoo to add some spice.
Darren Sammy (captain), Christopher Barnwell, Miles Bascombe, Devendra Bishoo, Nkrumah Bonner, Johnson Charles, Derwin Christian, Fidel Edwards, Danza Hyatt, Garey Mathurin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Dwayne Smith.