By Clifton Ross
SPEEDSTER Keon Harding’s inclusion in the West Indies team for the Bangladesh tour is a good step following Romario Shepherd in form testing positive before the start of the series.
Shepherd, who dropped his 1st Class ton before getting married during the December ‘A’ series tour of New Zealand, recently tested positive for coronavirus; resulting in Harding being named in place with the first International One-Day International (ODI) bowling on January 20.
Although Shepherd’s mandatory waiver is a huge blow, given his recent batting form, his reputation and ability to play the power-hitting role in limited overs of a game as well as his recent exposure to more internationals with the Windies team ; Harding could easily solve the secondary ball operator Windies issue.
While Shepherd is undoubtedly a much better batsman, Harding’s A-list record, especially coming off the back of last year’s Super50 winning championship with the West Indies New Players (WIEP), has been fantastic.
The right arm regulator finished 3rd on the wicketkeeper list during the last Super50, bagging 18 wickets from 9 games at an average of 16.66. His best earnings of 4-35 and economy rates of about 5 runs per over were among the best statistics produced by bowlers last season.
Harding also demonstrated his ability to switch to Test mode if needed, as he churned out similar performances during the COVID-19-affected 4-Day Regional Tournament, which was eventually won by his Barbados Pride franchise. The fast bowler ended the 4-Dayers Regional with a 10-for including 5-19 against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.
Another huge factor that nicely complements Harding’s addition is that he toured England last summer and now has a chance, much like Shepherd, to get a place in the team with most of the elderly to away.
Harding will also form a nice partnership with people like compatriots Raymon Reifer and Chemar Holder as well as Alzarri Joseph, who could form the Windies’ young 4-piece speed attack.
Veerasammy Permaul, who is making his way back into the international mix after years away, is another player who will be looking to re-establish his place among the Windies spin bowling options for the rest of 2021.
With a variety of bowling options available to him, stand-up sprinter Kraigg Brathwaite could very easily use his new players as the Caribbean side look to get their 2021 off to a flying start.