All-rounder Andre Russell has returned to the West Indies ODI squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
Russell last played ODI cricket in July 2018. He was recalled for his side's last two ODIs against England in February, but injury ruled him out of the series. The 30-year old is currently engaged in the 2019 Indian Premier League, where he has lit up the tournament with the bat, averaging 65.33 with a strike-rate of 217.77.
Apart from Russell, the fast-bowling duo of Sheldon Cottrell and Shannon Gabriel also received call-ups, the latter having missed West Indies' last ODI series, against England, due to a ban, while Kemar Roach and Oshane Thomas make up the rest of the pace attack. Shai Hope looks set to take the spot behind the stumps, with Nicholas Pooran covering as a back-up wicket-keeper.
"He came to me and said, 'Russ, you're better than that. You can use bigger bats, you're strong'."@Russell12A has a fellow Jamaican to thank for his splendid form this season 🌴⬇️https://t.co/YwSgytIsu7— ICC (@ICC) April 20, 2019
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo failed to make the cut, with Fabian Allen and Ashley Nurse set to take up spinning responsibilities. Fast bowlers Keemo Paul and Alzarri Joseph also missed out; Paul will remain in India to play the rest of his IPL campaign, while Joseph was not considered owing to injury.
Seasoned opener Chris Gayle could be the key man once again at the top of the order. Gayle, 39, has amassed 289 ODI caps, with 51 half-centuries and 25 centuries to his name, at an average of 38.16. He was in stunning form during the series against England, averaging 106 across the five games after making his return to the international setup.
Shimron Hetmyer and Hope will hold plenty of the run-scoring responsibility too, while 30-year old Darren Bravo is an experienced head that could be a good foil for the exciting young batters in the side. Left-handed batsman Evin Lewis is also in the squad, and will provide competition for an opening berth alongside Gayle.
The all-rounder department is well-stocked, as captain Jason Holder, who is ranked joint-sixth in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI All-Rounder Rankings, will be accompanied by Carlos Brathwaite in the middle of the order.
“Looking at the condition of pitches in ODIs over the last few years in England and Wales, it appears that big totals will be the order of the day, so we believe we have a line-up that can put big totals on the board or chase them," said Robert Haynes, interim chairman of the selection panel. "We believe we have good depth to our batting which will allow us to play the brand of cricket that will give us the best of chance of winning the World Cup.
“It will be a long tournament and it will be important for the bowling attack to stay fit and healthy for us to remain competitive and make a strong push to win the World Cup.”
Squad: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ashley Nurse, Fabian Allen, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Oshane Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis.
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