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Faces behind the new era in West Indies cricket

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Last updated on 15 Jan 2024 | 12:46 PM
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Faces behind the new era in West Indies cricket

Here’s a look at some potential debuts for the men from the Caribbean during their upcoming Australia tour

With Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran committing to play only in T20 Internationals (T20I), it has given an opportunity for some new faces to come in and make a difference. With Shimron Hetmyer also not finding a place due to poor form, the West Indies have been forced to dig a little deeper to find an apt replacement.

The West Indies have chosen tough conditions in Australia to give a bit of exposure to those who have consistently been performing in the domestic circuit. We take a few of those:

Zachary McCaskie

Zachary McCaskie made his First-Class debut in the 2022-23 season for Barbados, a little over three years after he played the 50-over format for them. He made a decent start to his first-class career, scoring 176 runs at 29.33, which includes two fifties in six innings whilst opening the batting in the four-day championship.

The West Indies have a settled opening unit in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul, with McCaskie only been picked as a back-up opener for the Test series against Australia. Recently, the 27-year-old has been on West Indies A tours to South Africa and Bangladesh, indicating that his promotion to the Test team is in the works.

However, in the aforementioned, McCaskie did very little of significance. He scored a couple of fifties in eight innings on those two tours combined.

He opens the batting with Brathwaite for Barbados, and like his skipper, there’s nothing really flashy about him. He is technically quite solid, and if given a chance, he could show off his skills against a formidable bowling unit like Australia.

Tevin Imlach

27-year-old Tevin Imlach has been named in the Test and ODI squad against Australia. Imlach initially made an impact in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2016, especially in the knockout stages, where he scored 54 against Pakistan in the quarter-final and 31 against Zimbabwe in the semis, opening the innings.

"We see them as future Test cricketers for the West Indies and this tour is an opportunity for them to be exposed at the international level against strong opposition,” said Clive Lloyd, the WICB chairman of selectors, while picking the side ahead of the mega event.

Since then, Imlach has played 17 FC matches, scoring 612 runs at 24.48, hitting just three fifties and a ton in 28 innings. These are not extravagant numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but what he has done well is that batted reasonably well everywhere in the batting order. 

His best position is at six, where he averages 47.5. Incumbent Test wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva will certainly be kept on his toes with Imlach on the wings. In the 50-over format, though, the Guyana batter has done in the last couple of seasons, where he has scored 505 runs at a healthy average of 36.

He was da Silva’s deputy during West Indies’ A tour of South Africa in November-December last year. While he may not get a game on this tour, it will certainly be a good experience.

Shamar Joseph

Few injuries to other players have played a key role in Shamar Joseph’s rise. Having worked in a security firm prior to taking up cricket full-time, the pacer, who was initially a net bowler for the Guyana Amazon Warriors, made it to the side in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) last season, replacing the injured Keemo Paul. Later, he made his 50-over debut for Guyana after an injury to Ronsford Beaton.

His raw pace and ability to hit over 140 KMPH regularly saw him fast-tracked into the West Indies A side that toured South Africa, where he finished as the leading wicket-taker for his side in the two unofficial Tests, picking up 12 wickets at 21.25, including a five-wicket haul.

A debut in Adelaide on the 17th, perhaps? That would be some story.

Teddy Bishop

Teddy Bishop has scored a couple of hundreds at the youth level, most notably against Zimbabwe in the Under-19 World Cup held at home in 2022. He finished the tournament as the second-highest run-getter for his side, scoring 206 runs at 51.50.

He was straightaway drafted into the West Indies A team against Bangladesh A side at home. After getting out for a duck on his debut, he managed 91 runs in the next two innings to resurrect himself.

However, he has not transformed his impressive Youth ODI record (773 runs at 42.6) into the senior level for Guyana and West Indies A, having managed just 440 runs at 31.42, which includes three fifties from 17 innings.

However, he averages close to 61 (SR 99) batting at four, and that could be the position he could potentially play in the ODI series, depending on where his skipper, Shai Hope, plays.

Other “new” faces

While the above players have not played for the West Indies at the international level in any format, there are a few from the squad who have made sporadic appearances in the recent past.

Justin Greaves, the Barbados-born all-rounder who played just three ODIs against Ireland at home in 2022, is named in the Test and ODI squad this time around. He played in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, but more recently has shown excellent form, especially in the 50-over format.

In the Super50 2023/24, Greaves finished as the second-highest run-getter for the Leeward Islands, slamming 403 runs at 80.60, and with the ball, he also chipped in with seven wickets to help his side to the final.

He did his all-round credentials no harm in the warm-up match, scoring 64 and 41 not out in the two innings and also chipped in with a couple of wickets. A Test debut looks certainly on the cards.

Off-break bowler Kevin Sinclair has played seven ODIs and six T20Is between 2021 and 2023 but has never played a Test. Sinclair’s breakthrough year at the domestic level came in 2022-23 when he snapped up 18 wickets at 16.61 in the four-day Championship. That saw him get promoted straight to the West Indies A side for the tour of Bangladesh and South Africa.

He finished the Bangladesh tour with 13 wickets – the most – at 25.69 and the following tour of South Africa with as many as 12 wickets – joint-best for his side at 25.91.

He finished the warm-up game against CA XI with four wickets, including figures of 3 for 38 in the second innings.

Batter Kavem Hodge has failed to have an impact in both of his ODI innings so far, and things will perhaps get tougher for him in Australian conditions. However, the fact that he can also chip in with more than a few overs of left-arm spin – someone to partner Gudakesh Motie – could persuade the skipper to hand him his maiden Test cap.

In the Four-day Championship 2022-23, Hodge was the second-highest run-getter for this side with 387 runs at 38.7, which included a ton and a couple of fifties. He also chipped in with five wickets at 42.60. Not to forget, he also had a stellar 50-over domestic campaign, racking up 261 runs at 52.20 and 10 wickets at 14.70 in 2022-23.

Hodge scored 52 and 99 in the two innings against CA XI to improve his chances further.

Fast bowler Akeem Jordan managed just a wicket in the two ODIs he played against the UAE in 2023. But his selection in the Test arena comes after a solid display on the domestic circuit. In the 2022-23 season of the Four-day Championship, he finished as the third-highest wicket-taker, taking 22 wickets at 17.36. He followed that up with a brilliant performance in the A tour of Bangladesh, finishing behind Sinclair as the second-highest wicket-taker in the unofficial Tests against the hosts with 12 wickets at 18.16.

He did alright during the tour of South Africa, where he managed nine wickets at 36.11 for West Indies A. He bowled the most overs (107.2) during the tour, and in the warm-up game against CA XI, he managed just one scalp in his 13 overs across both innings.

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