West Indies in England 2004 June 16, 2004

Lara to lead Test team in England

Wisden Cricinfo staff



Sylvester Joseph - rewarded for consistency © Getty Images

Sylvester Joseph has been named in the West Indian squad for the four-Test series in England, which begins on July 22. He replaces Ricardo Powell, who scored 23 in the only Test he played against England earlier this year. Omari Banks, Pedro Collins and Fidel Edwards were included in the side as well, while Darren Sammy and Ian Bradshaw were left out.

Joseph's inclusion in the squad is seen as reward for his consistency on the domestic scene, and though he has yet to play Test cricket, is part of a move to create a West Indian team for the future. Meanwhile, Banks was chosen after he picked up six wickets in the second Test against Bangladesh. He provides the team an offspin option, as well as reliable late-order batting.

Brian Lara, who recently threatened to quit as captain if the team did not beat Bangladesh, has been asked to lead the side. Lara is the centre of a strong, but largely young, batting line-up that has fired in fits and starts, most recently in the second Test against Bangladesh, when Ramnaresh Sarwan scored a big double-century. But the bowling is a cause for concern, with the selectors putting their faith in players with promise, but little to show for in experience.

Tino Best, Ravi Rampaul, Jermaine Lawson, Edwards and Collins form the fast-bowling attack, which is expected to trouble England's increasingly assured batsmen. Between them, the bowlers have played 51 Tests, claimed 162 wickets at a shade under 35. And Rampaul has yet to make his debut.

The team has had a tough season, with three lost Tests in South Africa, three lost to England at home, and a struggle to overcome even Bangladesh. The assignments were made even harder because of injuries to bowlers and batsmen at crucial times, and Lara was expressive about the kind of team he wanted.

"We seem to stress on the fact that we are playing cricket and we are trying to get fit at the same time," Lara said. "It can't work. I personally would prefer a fit team playing cricket, maybe less talented ... I don't know, but a fit team is definitely a team that is going to make sure that the other areas come together."

What Lara has at his disposal is a fit team and a young team. Though they aren't seriously expected to beat England, there's a possibility that they could return with their reputations enhanced.

West Indies squad Brian Lara (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Smith, Ridley Jacobs (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Tino Best, Fidel Edwards, Jermaine Lawson, Pedro Collins, Omari Banks, Carlton Baugh, Dwayne Bravo, Sylvester Joseph.

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