by Dyon Ravello
The first Test between West Indies and India is exactly a month away. West Indies has shown measured improvement in the current Tri-nation series involving Australia and South Africa. It will be a great boost of confidence to make the final by getting the better of the South Africans and even more so to top the Australians in the finals. Prior to the Tri-Series West Indies held a training camp for those players who impressed this past season on the First Class circuit. Some notable attendees were this season’s top run scorer Leon Johnson (807 runs), Vishaul Singh the third top run scorer (712 runs) and rookie spinner Gudesh Motie, fourth top wicket taker with 40 wickets.
The following is an analyst into who the personnel for the Indian series may include. Jason Holder is the current captain and is expected to hold his position despite a dip in form, provided that he recovers from the injury he picked up against Australia in the Tri-Series. Kraigg Brathwaite is currently second in command and my be called upon to take charge if Holder does not recover in time. Not only is Brathwaite (K) an incumbent from the last tour, but his is also one of the few success story from that Australia series. He have even guaranteed his selection by scoring 676 runs at 61 to make the selectors work easy when his name is presented. Darren Bravo is another success story from the dubious tour down under and should continue his key role at number three. Bravo has been off nick off late, but he is one innings away from hitting his Nagico Super 50 form. Marlon Samuels announced that this series will be his last in Test as he looks to take advantage of the lucrative opportunities in white ball cricket. Samuels has been hitting his stride since the T20 World Cup, with top innings in the Tri-series following a horrid tour of the continent state. Samuels will be looking to sign off with vengeance against one of his more favored opponents. There is very little competition for the wicket-keeping role, which mean Denesh Ramdin should retain his reign behind the stumps. His 91 against Australia would serve as a timely endorsement to affirm his selection.
Those top five are possibly the easiest selections. The work comes in selecting the rest of the cast. From those the last Test series those who should retain their place are, Carlos Brathwaite, Jomal Warrican, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Miguel Cummins and Jerome Taylor. Brathwaite (C) has proven his worth with both bat and ball last time his donned his whites. His form with the bat may come under question, but his all-round ability should pull him through to the squad of 13 and even into the final 11 for the first Test. Warrican was the spinner of choice ahead of Bishoo on the drop-in Australian pitches and returned to the regional circuit to pick up 28 wickets from five matches to finish in the top ten wicket takers. Warrican should be in the list to select from and may even make the squad of 13. Bishoo played second fiddle to Warrican, but should have been to the go to guy. On Caribbean tracks Bishoo would be my number spinner as proven by his returns against the Australian on their visit last summer. The captain should be mindful not to over bowl the leg-spinning ace as to preserve his lethal potential. Roach has struggled for much of the past year, but in the ninth round of the First Class season he showed shades of his old self which should give him an opportunity to lead the attack against the Indian. Like the wicket-keeping options are limited, so too are the Fast bowling cabinets. Shannon Gabriel impressed on his One Day International (ODI) debut with his express pace and his tenacity to keep the Australia batsmen quiet. Provided that he remains fit he should be leading the line alongside Roach. Cummins has impressed since his arrived on the First Class circuit in 2012. He was the leading wicket taker among Fast bowlers with 33 wickets and may well debut this summer to add to his solitary ODI cap. Jerome Taylor looks to be a horse running out of steam, but he should benefit from the lack of ample replacement. After losing his place in the One Day team it maybe difficult for Taylor to break into the final eleven.
There are five other players worth mentioning, six when you consider one who would have lost his place in the team. Leon Johnson should be the easiest selection to fill the number five batting position, especially on the back of his current regional form and decent returns at Test level. Devon Smith may appear to be one of feline breed. He is an outside shot at the opening spot, yet another position with few options to choose from. His experience at this level augurs well for him in addition to his current form, second top run scorer with 719 run this season. Another wildcard selection comes with another opener in John Campbell. He has been consistent for Jamaica since his First Class debut and enjoyed his best season to date this term. Campbell’s off break adds another dimension to warrant selection. Vishaul Singh was the the leader among the runs for much of the early running this season. Singh finished third best scorer with 712 run which included three centuries. Singh has done his bit to knock on the selectors door. The final player on the radar, is this season’s leading wicket taker, Nikita Miller. Miller scalped 65 wickets, almost 20 more than the next best bowler. Miller will face stiff competition from incumbents Warrican and Bishoo.
Prediction first Test squad: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite (vc), Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin, Leon Johnson, Carlos Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, John Campbell and Miguel Cummins
IN – Devon Smith, Leon Johnson, John Campbell
OUT – Jermaine Blackwood, Rajendra Chandrika, Shai Hope, Jerome Taylor