March 25, 2023

The West Indies selection panel chose Roston Chase over left-arm fingerspinner Gudakesh Motie in the Test squad for the upcoming tour of Australia because they wanted an “offspinner in Australia”, Desmond Haynes, the lead selector, said. Though Rakheem Cornwall, who is also an offspinning allrounder like Chase, was in contention, fitness was one of the reasons for his omission.

Jimmy Adams, the director of cricket at CWI, also revealed that they are considering an interim coach until the tour of South Africa, which will run till the end of March, with the current head coach Phil Simmons set to part ways with the team in December.

“The situation regarding Roston Chase and Motie is that we as a panel decided that we would go for an offspinner,” Haynes said during a virtual press conference. “That’s the reason why we didn’t include Moti and we decided that Chase was the best person to do the job and that’s what the panel decided.

“When you look at someone like Roston Chase, his record in Test cricket has been pretty good. Although he did lose some form, he played a few games against Zimbabwe this year. The panel wanted to go with an offspinner and that’s what really ticked in Roston’s favour. Not just that he would help us in the batting department but also he would be a very good allrounder who can bowl offspin.”

Chase is returning from an injury and is the only spin option in the squad which will play two Tests in November-December. He has not played international cricket since turning out for WICB XI against the touring Bangladesh side in a three-day fixture in June. However, he took part in CPL 2022, picking up six wickets in 11 matches for St Lucia Kings and scoring 100 runs in ten innings. Having debuted in 2016, Chase’ last Test came in December 2021 against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Meanwhile, Adams, the director of cricket, mentioned that there were “quite a few things” that came into the picture for Cornwall’s selection, including “medical and physical” reasons which is why the CWI waited till Friday to announce the contingent. Cornwall finished as the highest wicket-taker in the four-day championship, with 23 strikes in five matches at an average of 21.47. He revealed that Dominic Drakes was also considered.

“It [his selection criteria] included quite a few things – medical and physical, ” Adam said of Cornwall. “But this isn’t the forum to discuss issues of that nature, I can’t give you much information. But all of the information surrounding Rakheem needed to come in for selection.

“There was a group of players under consideration for selection. From what I was told from the lead of the panel, [for] Rakheem and Dominic Drakes, we needed information on not just these two but on the group and we decided we wouldn’t make a decision on either players or any of the players until all information that was required came in. And it was not until we had all the information to make a decision, the team didn’t officially go out until Friday because the final selection happened on Friday morning. So we needed information on these players, Rakheem was one of them, and once the information came in, the panel was able to convene and select the squad.”

One of the other main talking points from the squad selection is Tagenarine Chanderpaul, the son of former batter Shivnarine, earning his maiden call-up to West Indies’ senior side for the two-match Test series in Australia. Haynes heaped praise on Tagenarine, who he feels has the ability to rise to the challenge and backed him to open with Kraigg Brathwaite.

“I believe [Kraigg and Tage can work well together]. I think what you have to take into consideration too is with Tage, a young man, he’s got a very good technique to the new ball which is good,” Haynes said.

“He leaves alone very well. When you go to places like Australia, you don’t want to see the number three batsman coming in too early or the number four. So I think he and Kraigg would definitely complement each other because at least they would be looking at what openers should do for a team as well, which is build a foundation for the side so the guys coming in down the order would not get the new ball. I think it’s a good choice of picking the young man. [There is a] no better place to start your cricket career than Australia where a lot of people believe if you do well against Australia then you’re rated.

“It’s always been considered a tough place to play cricket and I think he has the ability to do it.”

CWI considering an interim coach

Adams is hoping that the CWI will have some clarity by the end of this week on whether they will be appointing an interim coach for West Indies’ men’s senior team or multiple coaches for different formats, adding that “those discussions are actually ongoing.”

The Australia tour will be Simmons’ last assignment as head coach of West Indies. After West Indies suffered an “unfathomable” first-round exit in the T20 World Cup in the country earlier this month, he had put in his resignation. West Indies’ important assignment next year commences with an all-format tour of South Africa, beginning on February 28 and concluding on March 28.

“There are two issues to look at,” Adams said. “Obviously, given the schedule that we have, which is Test cricket in Zimbabwe and South Africa from the end of January right through until (March)…I think the white-ball games against South Africa will go into March. Do we first of all split the roles and how long are we going to give ourselves the time in which to recruit? By that I mean, is it that we are going to do an interim situation maybe until the end of the South Africa (tour) or do we actually start recruiting right away (for a full-time coach).

“These are decisions that are before us now and I am hoping that by the end of this week coming that we will have some firm decisions to sort of guide the way forward…these are all the questions being considered right now as we speak.”

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