WI recall Taylor, Roach and Benn for first NZ Test
Fast bowlers Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach, who have battled injuries recently, have been recalled to the West Indies squad for the first Test against New Zealand, which starts in Kingston on June 8. The squad also includes offspinner Shane Shillingford, who was cleared for a return to international cricket earlier this year, following remedial work on his bowling action.
Plagued by injuries since his debut in 2003, Taylor recently returned to competitive cricket for Jamaica in a one-dayer against the touring Ireland side in February. He then finished as the second-highest wicket-taker for Jamaica in the Regional Four Day Competition, bagging 25 wickets in eight games at an average of 25.28. Taylor's last Test appearance was in November 2009, against Australia in Brisbane.
Roach, on the other hand, has not played a Test since the home series against Zimbabwe in March 2013. A shoulder injury forced him out of the India tour in November last year after which he underwent a surgery. Since April, Roach has been working with BCA coach Vasbert Drakes, West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and his Maple teammate Corey Collymore - all three are former West Indies fast bowlers - in order to get his shoulder back in shape for bowling. A few months ago, he escaped serious injury following a car accident in his native Barbados.
Shillingford was suspended for an illegal bowling action in December, during West Indies' tour to New Zealand. He made a successful return to competitive cricket with a match haul of 11 wickets for Windward Islands in a Regional Four Day Competition game in March and was subsequently cleared for an international return. The offspinner, however, cannot bowl his doosra, as it remains illegal.
In a side packed largely with pacers, Benn, who last played a Test in December 2010, is expected to reinforce the side's spin department. West Indies will miss the services of Sunil Narine, who was disqualified from selection for the Tests against New Zealand after missing the deadline to report to the West Indies camp in order to play the IPL final.
The series will be the first assignment for Denesh Ramdin, who took over as Test captain from Darren Sammy last month. Sammy then announced his retirement from Test cricket hours after Ramdin's appointment. The wicketkeeper-batsman has led the national side in three T20s and an ODI and has more extensive leadership experience with Trinidad & Tobago.
The Jamaica Test is also likely to be Chris Gayle's 100th match in the format. Gayle struggled with a back injury during the IPL and recently sought treatment in Germany, aiming to be fit for the landmark Test in front of his home crowd.