ST JOHN’S: West Indies selectors on Friday resisted the temptation to grant Chris Gayle a sentimental final Test appearance on home ground when the charismatic opener was omitted from the squad to face India in their two-match series, which the first for both sides in the new World Test Championship.
The 39-year-old Gayle played the last of his 103 Tests in September 2014, but had hinted during the World Cup this year that he was open to playing one more Test before bringing down the curtain on his international career Gayle has made 7,214 runs in Test cricket with a highest score of 333 but his career in recent years has been confined to white-ball cricket and franchise T20 leagues.
Despite the second of the two-Test series against India being played at his home ground of Sabina Park in Jamaica from Aug 30-Sept 3, it looks like Gayle’s final international appearance in the Caribbean will instead be on Wednesday in the third One-day International at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
The interim West Indies selection panel has kept faith with practically the squad that earned a 2-1 series victory over England earlier this year in the Caribbean, except injured fast bowler Alzarri Joseph and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall could make his long-awaited Test debut, starting with the opening match at his home Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua from Aug 22 to 26.
The 26-year-old Cornwall has taken 260 wickets at 23.90 apiece in 55 first-class matches for Leeward Islands.
“Rahkeem has been performing consistently over a long period of time and has proven to be a match-winner, so we believe his elevation to the Test squad is merited at this time,” said panel chief Robert Haynes. “We believe he can provide an attacking option to our bowling attack with his sharp turn and extra bounce. “He can also lend a bit of depth to the batting, so we are looking forward to him coming into the squad and making a valuable contribution.”
West Indies ‘A’ team captain Shamarh Brooks is the only other uncapped player in the squad.
All-rounder Keemo Paul, a replacement for Test captain Jason Holder when he was forced to miss the final Test of the England series, retains his place.
“Alzarri is undergoing remedial work and we are monitoring his recovery, but we do not think he is ready yet to last five days of a gruelling Test match,” added Haynes. “He represents a key part of West Indies future and we do not want to rush him back. We have two important series coming up later in the year in India and we want to be very careful how his recovery is managed.”
Squad: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019