WEST Indies will have to do without T20 stars – opening batsmen Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and all-rounder Andre Russell for their three-match T20 series against New Zealand, which bowls off on November 27 in New Zealand.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced a 14-man squad, on Friday. The first match will be played at Eden Park in Auckland on November 27, before the series moves to the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui for matches on November 29 and 30.
West Indies are expected to arrive in New Zealand weeks before the tour begins to quarantine. Following the T20 series a two-match Test series will begin, on December 3.
Simmons, Lewis and Russell are among the most destructive batsmen in T20 cricket.
On Friday, speaking to journalists on Zoom, CWI lead selector Roger Harper explained why the three players will not tour.
“Lendl Simmons declined the opportunity to tour at this time after discussions with his family. Evin Lewis the same, as well as he says he still got an injury that is troubling him.”
Lewis suffered a groin injury during the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) held in Trinidad from August 18 to September 10.
Harper said Russell needs time “to clear his head” because he has been “going from one lockdown to another.”
During the CPL the players lived in a “bubble” and were only allowed to leave Hilton Hotel, St Ann's for matches and training. After the CPL, Russell immediately left Trinidad for the United Arab Emirates to compete in the ongoing 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Russell is one of the most feared batsmen in T20 cricket because of his power hitting.
Simmons has showed the best form of late among the three, as the opener was the highest run scorer in the CPL with 356 runs at an average of 39.55.
West Indies will be a shorthanded at the top of the order.
This is the second time this year the West Indies team will be without a quality trio.
Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul decided not to travel to England in June and July for a three-match Test series because of covid19 concerns. However, they have decided to board the plane on this occasion.
Several players who failed to impress in the CPL have been chosen including Rovman Powell, Oshane Thomas, Brandon King and Hayden Walsh jnr.
Harper said the selectors decided to choose players that have been short of top performances simply because fringe players have not been banging on the door for selection.
All-rounder Fabian Allen, who has played no competitive cricket since the covid19 pandemic began in March, has also been given the nod.
Fast bowler Thomas only took one wicket in three matches for the Jamaica Tallawahs during the CPL and joins fellow fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams for the New Zealand tour.
Medium pacer Dwayne Bravo and leg spinner Walsh Jr will also make the trip.
It was a lean time for batsmen during the CPL, but King and Powell especially had a horrid time.
Powell, playing for Tallawahs, ended the tournament with 106 runs at an average of 11.77. King (Guyana Amazon Warriors) had a miserable time as he could only amass 116 runs at 11.60.
Asked why the selectors chose Thomas and Powell, Harper said, “That is a very good question…the persons competing for those places did not do much better.”
Harper said the players they selected have been part of the set up previously. “I think the guys who are pushing for the places will definitely have to outperform them and I am afraid that during the CPL as well you did not have any real terrific performances.”
The lead selector said the batting in the CPL “left quite a bit to be desired in some cases.”
Sunil Narine has been overlooked after he was reported for an illegal bowling action while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on October 10.
Narine has not played for KKR since being reported. The off-spinner was also allegedly reported for a suspect bowling action during the CPL.
“Sunil is an experienced player. We all know what Sunil is capable of, he is a world class performer and I think he understands the process of getting through these challenges because he has done it in the past and we know what Sunil can do.”
Harper said Narine will be considered for the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.
“As we build up to the T20 World Cup when Sunil is ready and available and fully fit and everything is in sync he will be considered.”
T20 SQUAD: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh jnr, Kesrick Williams.