HAYDEN Walsh Jnr is a special case. This is how Cricket West Indies (CWI) lead selector Roger Harper described the West Indies leg-spinner after he was one of 18 players offered retainer contracts for the 2021/2022 season despite mediocre performances since making his West Indies debut.
Quality spinners have been few and far between in West Indies cricket for decades. Walsh had a breakthrough year in 2019 ending the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament as the leading wicket-taker with 22 wickets in nine matches, as he helped the Barbados Tridents lift the CPL title.
Walsh, born in St Croix, represented the United States in the past but was chosen to play for West Indies after the 2019 CPL and made his debut at the end of that year. Walsh’s father Hayden Walsh Snr was Antiguan and represented the Leeward Islands.
Walsh has grabbed 12 wickets in nine One Day Internationals (ODIs) for West Indies and, in T20I cricket, he has snatched five wickets in nine matches.
Walsh had a disappointing 2020 CPL campaign grabbing seven wickets in ten matches.
On Thursday, speaking to journalists on Zoom, Harper said, “We’ve treated Hayden as a special case. One of the things as a selection panel and the coach have spoken about it as well is the need and the desire to have a potent leg-spinner in each of our teams. Hayden has been the only leg-spinner within the framework in the white ball set-up.”
In January, on a tour of Bangladesh, Walsh tested positive for covid19 before the first ODI and was ruled out of the three-match series.
In March, he was not selected for the three-match ODI and three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka in Antigua. The selectors decided to choose left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and off-spinner Kevin Sinclair for the ODI series. The T20 squad included the spin trio of Hosein, Sinclair and left-armer Fabian Allen.
Harper said Walsh has been showing discipline since returning from Bangladesh and he has “put in the work.”
Explaining why Walsh was given a contract, Harper said, “We still think that leg-spin has a real significant role to play in our teams...we look at Hayden as a special case because he is a leg-spinner, because there don’t seem to be any others around so to speak and we want to work with him to get him at his best so he could be a force for the team.”
Jason Holder was the only player to receive an all-format contract.
Holder also features in T20 franchise tournaments around the world and managing his volume of work may prove challenging for CWI.
Discussing Holder’s workload, Harper said, “It is something that we have been looking at and trying to plan ahead in discussion with the player as well because we have a packed schedule for the remainder of the year.”
South Africa, Australia and Pakistan are all expected to tour the Caribbean in the coming months.
Harper also knows that during the covid19 pandemic Holder will have to endure quarantine periods and bio-secure bubbles which can also be tiring.
Players retained by Cricket West Indies –
All-format contracts: Jason Holder.
Red-ball contracts: Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kyle Mayers, Kemar Roach.
White-ball contracts: Kieron Pollard, Fabien Allen, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Alzarri Joseph, Nicholas Pooran, Hayden Walsh Jnr.