After a prolonged period of poor form in the Test arena, Shai Hope has been omitted from the Test squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.
The West Indies selectors, chaired by Roger Harper, made the tough call.
With Hope out of the team, Harper is hoping that the return of stylish left-hander Darren Bravo and the hard-hitting Shimron Hetmyer will add some depth to the middle order.
Speaking to the media via a Zoom press conference following the announcement of the team yesterday, Harper noted that the team’s top order batting has come under the microscope and that Hope has not been at his best in the longer version of the game.
Hope has managed just one half-century in his last 13 Tests and Harper said this is an opportunity for the batsman to take a step back and reorganise his Test game.
“Of course our batting has been under the microscope and a lot of questions were asked of the batting again in England but in regards to Shai Hope, I think we all agree that he has not been at his best in Test cricket for quite a while,” Harper stated.
“He has performed very well in the 50-over version but in Test cricket he’s not been anywhere close to his best and this has gone on for a while, so we’ve given him an opportunity to go back and work on this aspect of the game and get his batting up to the standard that we know he is capable of. I think there is a tremendous future in Test cricket but he needs to get his batting back to where it can be,” he added.
Harper also noted that Hope will not be left on his own to make his way back into the Test team.
“The head coach (Phil Simmons) is working along with the franchise coach in Barbados to put a programme in place to work with Shai to get him back to his best so I think that is the sort of process that we put have out in place there. It is not a case that Shai has been left to his own devices so to speak. I think there is a process in place and all things considered in Covid time, there are coaches working with him,” Harper explained.
Asked how Hope responded to the news that he would not be making the trip to New Zealand, Harper said the Barbados batsman took it in stride.
“It is my responsibility to inform all players of their selection and their non selection and I spoke to Shai and I said the same thing I said to you guys here... ‘we are giving you the opportunity to work and build your game and get it back to standard we think you are capable of and we’ve seen from you in the past’,” said Harper.
“We want him to rebuild his game to that level so he can take his game and West Indies cricket to the heights that we would like to achieve,” the chairman of selectors continued. “I think Shai is a very practical and smart person and he understands that he has not been at is best. He took it in very good spirits and for what is was and I expect that he will work very hard to regain the sort of standard and quality and performance we know he is capable of,” he added.
Also making the trip to New Zealand as part of the ‘Test Reserves’ will be Trinidad and Tobago teenage fast-bowler Jayden Seales and wicketkeeper batsman Joshua Da Silva.
The T20 squad was also announced yesterday with Dwayne Bravo and Nicholas Pooran in the side that will be captained by Kieron Pollard.
Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and Andre Russell all opted not to participate in the tour. Harper also revealed that some of the T20 players will also be able to participate in two first-class, four-day matches that will be played at the same time as the Test matches.
Test Squad: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach. (Reserves) Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Preston McSween, Shayne Moseley, Raymon Reifer, Jayden Seales.
T20 Squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.
PROPOSED MATCH SCHEDULE T20Is
November 27: 1st T20I at Eden Park, Auckland
November 29: 2nd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
November 30: 3rd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
December 3-7: 1st Test at Seddon Park, Hamilton
December 11-15: 2nd Test at Basin Reserve, Wellington