BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Talismanic opener Chris Gayle heads a powerful batting line-up that sees the return of fellow left-hander Evin Lewis, and Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel lead an exciting bowling attack in the preliminary squad of two-time champions West Indies for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales.
Interim chairman of the Cricket West Indies selection panel Robert Haynes announced the squad during a media conference on Wednesday at the Sandals Royal Resort today here.
The 15-member squad includes nine players that will be making their first appearance in the global showpiece, including emerging batting star Shimron Hetmyer, the captain of the West Indies Under-19 side that won its first ever ICC Youth World Cup three years ago in Bangladesh, and the side is boosted with the inclusion of big-hitting all-rounder Andre Russell.
“Based on the new selection policy approach which allowed us to consider a number of players that have not regularly appeared in the side over the last two years, we had a wide base of talent from which to choose,” said Haynes.
“There were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15, including ensuring there was some continuity in the side, but we believe we have chosen a strong squad of players taking into consideration such factors as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.”
“In keeping with tournament regulations, we submitted our squad prior to the deadline date of yesterday. All players named for the Tri-Nations Series could, however, stake a claim to be in the final 15-member squad that will be submitted after the Tri-Series and before the final deadline next month.”
Gayle will be making a record fifth World Cup appearance for West Indies and needs just 253 runs to overtake fellow left-hander Brian Lara and become the leading batsman for the Caribbean side in One-day Internationals. The self-proclaimed, “Universe Boss” is the headline act of a batting line-up capable of changing the complexion of any game with enterprising stroke-play.
“To have a player the calibre of Chris in the side to lead the batting with his vast experience and his ability to play match-winning or game-changing innings is a blessing for us and the motivation of becoming the leading scorer for West Indies in ODIs is something which I think he will relish,” said Haynes.
“Looking at the condition of pitches in ODIs over the last few years in England and Wales, it appears that big totals will be the order of the day, so we believe we have a line-up that can put big totals on the board or chase them, as we have seen from recent matches.
“With players like the captain, Jason Holder, as well as Andre Russell in the lower middle-order, we believe we have good depth to our batting which will allow us to play the brand of cricket that will give us the best of chance of winning the World Cup.”
Roach will be making his third World Cup appearance and Gabriel his first, and they will be hoping to transfer recent success in the longest version of the game into the ODI format to spearhead the attack.
“We are excited about the pace attack led by Kemar and Shannon, and we are confident that any bowling combination we put on the park is capable of providing a serious challenge to the opposition in any conditions,” said Haynes.
“It will be a long tournament and it will be important for the bowling attack to stay fit and healthy for us to remain competitive and make a strong push to win the World Cup.”
Haynes noted that off-spinner Sunil Narine and emerging fast bowler Alzarri Joseph were not considered, due to finger and shoulder injuries, respectively.