By Rajiv Bisnauth
A CHIEF selector, Roger Harper, and the company announced two second-string cohorts last week for the West Indies tour to Bangladesh later this month.
Team captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase were among 12 players who opted not to tour Bangladesh due to COVID-19 concerns. The list includes Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich are unavailable due to personal reasons.
With those players opting out, selectors have come under fire with many blaming the selection panel for their “unwillingness” or “inability” to bring together the right combination of players for any one series.
Only three returning Guyana Jaguars players, Raymond Reifer, Romario Shepherd and the Veerasammy Permaul, made the selectors’ isolation policy.
However, many pundits believe that at least two other Guyanese should have been chosen, skipper Leon Johnson and Chandrapaul Hemraj.
According to Harper, Johnson was considered to be leading the West Indies Test team to tour Bangladesh, but the selection panel chose Kraigg Brathwaite instead.
“That was, of course, a consideration, but the fact that we had Kraigg Brathwaite there, we decided to go with Kraigg,” Harper revealed on the recent Mason and Guest radio show.
Johnson has five Regional championships under his belt, and after 117 first-class matches, he has accumulated 6 190 runs at an average of 32.40, with six centuries and 39 fifties.
The 33-year-old Johnson has also played nine Test matches and scored 403 runs with two half centuries to his name. However, it has an average of 25.18.
Meanwhile, while speaking to Chronicle Sport, Hemraj, who played six ODIs, said he is not disappointed because he has no control over the selectors or the selection process.
“I’m not disappointed because I have no control over the selectors or (the) selection process. My goal is to continue to score runs and be consistent as possible, ”said Hemraj.
West Indies will participate in three ODIs and two Tests in Chattogram and Dhaka.
The tour kicks off with a one-day warm-up game in Savar on January 18, followed by the first two ODIs on January 20 and 22, hosted by Dhaka.
West Indies and Bangladesh will move to Chattogram for the third ODI on January 25.
Chattogram will stage the four-day warm-up match and the first Test from February 3. The West Indies visit ends in Dhaka where the second Test starts on February 11.
Both Test matches will be part of the ICC World Test Championship while the ODIs are the first for West Indies in their ICC World Cup Super League campaign which provides an opportunity to qualify for the ICC 2023 World Cup directly.