The West Indies have named their 15-man World Cup squad for the tournament which begins next month in Australia and New Zealand. Most notably the side named does not include star players Kieron Pollard and former ODI captain Dwayne Bravo.
Trinidadian duo Pollard and Bravo have been omitted from the side due to, it would appear, their role in the recent strike by players on their tour of India. Bravo and Pollard were seen as the most outspoken of the players in their contract issues with the West Indies cricket board and appear to have been punished for their part in it.
Even though players of Pollard and Bravo’s quality have been left out of the side there are a number of individuals still capable of lighting up the tournament and guiding the West Indies towards the latter stages.
As well as the obvious talents of Gayle, who will be the prize wicket for any opposing team, there are players such as Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Smith. Not to mention the return of spinner Sunil Narine to the side.
Jason Holder will captain the side after being promoted to the role for the South African ODI tour, whilst Marlon Samuels will be vice-captain.
Narine has come under scrutiny for his action after being reported during the Champions League in September and has subsequently undergone self-rehabilitation to rectify any issues.
The fact that Narine is now available, and selected, should be proof that the West Indies, and Narine himself, are confident that his action is ready to be scrutinised again on the biggest stage. Prior to his exile Narine had become a real force in the one-day game having been elevated to the number two ranking in the World in both limited overs formats.
The West Indies will also be heading to the World Cup in fantastic form after two emphatic victories in the first two T20 Internationals against South Africa. The second of which broke the World record for the highest run-chase in T20s.
Chris Gayle, the leading star in the side, played a huge part in both victories hitting a sparkling 77 from 31 balls in the first game and then an equally mesmerising 90 from 41 balls in the second.
Gayle is undoubtedly the man who can set the tone for the West Indies with his aggressive batting style at the top of the order and, with Bravo and Samuels able to provide added impetus in the middle overs with Sammy a proven finisher later on, there are the ingredients for batting success. However, will the bowling attack be able to back up their star batsmen?
The current side may well have issues in the longer form of the game but in limited overs cricket, whether T20 or 50 overs, they are a huge force on their day. However, it all depends on which West Indies team will appear at the World Cup and whether any external events take over their current positive mindset?
For pure entertainment reasons lets hope that they arrive in good heart and it is the side that we have witnessed on their tour of South Africa that lights up the World Cup.
West Indies World Cup squad; Jason Holder (captain), Marlon Samuels, Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor