Roach returns, Reifer picked for England tour
Fast bowler Kemar Roach has been recalled to West Indies' Test squad for the series in England that begins on August 17. Two new faces feature in the 15-man squad: batsman Kyle Hope, who debuted during the ODIs against India earlier this month, and Guyana's fast-bowling allrounder Raymon Reifer.
Batsman Vishaul Singh is the only player to miss out from the squad for West Indies' previous Test match, against Pakistan in April-May. Singh had failed to go past 32 in six innings in that series.
Roach, who had been dropped on form in 2016, hit his stride in the domestic first-class tournament, the Professional Cricket League, and was the most effective of Barbados' fast bowlers with 23 wickets at 16.17. Reifer did even more for Guyana in their run to the title, taking 36 wickets at 21.58 and scoring 445 runs at 37.08.
Courtney Browne, the chairman of Cricket West Indies' (CWI) selection panel, said of the squad: "[In Reifer and Kyle Hope] we have two players who will be new to Tests, but they have experience at first-class level. Kyle will be our third option as opener and he can also be a possible No. 3. Raymon adds variety to our attack with his left-arm swing bowling and has proven to be very useful with the bat in the lower order. He, therefore, adds value to our team and could be very useful in English conditions.
"Kemar's return is welcomed as he was one of the best fast bowlers in Tests in the recent past for us. We have seen him during the last [first-class] season show signs of his return to form. He may not be bowling as quickly as before, but still possesses that skill we all knew he had, plus his experience adds greater depth to the attack."
Although CWI declared earlier this week that it would relax the selection norms to allow senior players, who had been overlooked in the last few years, to return to top-flight cricket, the squad did not feature any of them. One main reason behind that was the Test segment of the England series clashes with the Caribbean Premier League and most of these players had committed to the play the domestic T20 tournament. That included Darren Bravo, who had said recently he would focus on CPL where he plays for Trinbago Knight Riders.
Earlier this week Bravo became eligible for selection once again, after an apology. CWI had barred him from all cricket since November 2016 when he had been sent home from Zimbabwe following his tweet on board president Dave Cameron. Both Cameron and Bravo issued letters of apology to bury the issue. The press release announcing the squad said Bravo was not considered for selection as the selection was completed before he issued his apology. Browne said Bravo, who has not played much red-ball cricket of late, could work his way back into the squad by playing more cricket.
The three-Test series against England opens at Edgbaston, with the maiden day-night Test in the country. That is followed by games at Headingley and Lord's.