West Indies captain Jason Holder struck an upbeat note on the eve of West Indies' tri-series with South Africa and Australia, backing returning players like Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard to make an impact.
"We've got a good squad. Many of the guys were in the World T20 squad and the World Cup, some of whom are carrying very good form from the IPL. We back the guys in the squad," Holder said. "We've got Sunil Narine, who comes back after the problems with his action, and Kieron Pollard, who I'm sure has a statement to make. So, I'm really looking forward to this series."
Both Narine and Pollard had to withdraw from West Indies' squad for the World T20 in March-April. Narine was still undergoing rehabilitative work on his action after it had been found illegal in November last year. Pollard had not yet recovered from a knee injury that had kept him away from competitive cricket since November. Both players returned to competitive cricket at the recently-concluded IPL.
The inclusion of Narine and Pollard in the tri-series squad had been questioned by Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy, all of whom had been overlooked for the squad, presumably due to their non-participation in West Indies' domestic 50-over competition, which is a criterion for national selection. Narine, who was serving his suspension, and Pollard, who was injured, did not participate in that tournament either. Responding to those questioning his inclusion, Pollard had appeared to imply that he did not know why he had not been selected for ODIs since October 2014.
Despite such issues, Holder insisted that the squad was in good spirits and eagerly looking forward to the tri-series. "The mood is very good. Everybody is up for this series. We've had a bit of a break between the last one-day series and this one, so everyone is raring to go."
West Indies' last one-day series was in Sri Lanka, in November; they lost 3-0. The World T20, in which they emerged champions, is the only limited-overs international cricket they have played in 2016. The lack of match practice showed, as they were beaten soundly in two practice matches against Barbados Select XI.
"We were a little rusty, probably below par, for the practice games," Holder admitted. "But we didn't have the full squad either. We have guys coming back from the IPL, who have been playing cricket, and I expect good things from them."
West Indies' first match of the tri-series is against South Africa on June 3.