Chris Gayle has been reappointed West Indies captain for the upcoming tour of Australia later this month, marking the end of the contractual dispute between the striking players and the West Indies Cricket Board. Senior players such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo also returned to the squad for the three-Test series following the strike, while youngsters such as Adrian Barath, Kemar Roach and Gavin Tonge made the cut as well.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) met in Barbados on Saturday to approve the selectors' recommendation of Gayle as captain and made the announcement on Monday. Gayle, 30, has not played international cricket since the home series against India in July due to the ugly contractual dispute between WICB and the players' union. In his absence, the selectors fielded depleted teams led by Floyd Reifer against Bangladesh and in the Champions Trophy.
Clyde Butts, the chairman of selectors, said he was confident of the team's prospects in Australia. "I think we have a good combination and an experienced team which I expect to do very well," he said. "We have selected a balanced team … we have a quality bowling attack, and a very good batting line-up with players who have performed on the international stage. We believe the players all have the ability to deliver at the highest level."
There are only two uncapped players in the squad, Barath and Tonge. Barath, the Trinidad & Tobago batsman, came into prominence by scoring a century for West Indies A against the touring England side earlier this year. He was then included in the squad for the first home Test against Bangladesh in July but didn't play. However, Barath shone for T&T during the Champions League in India. There is no third opener in the 15-man squad - Devon Smith and Lendl Simmons haven't been picked - so Barath could well open with Gayle in Brisbane.
Tonge, a 26-year old fast bowler, and Roach were handed their debut against Bangladesh during the strike and impressed with their speed. They proved a handful on the fast pitches in South Africa during the ICC Champions Trophy and those performances won them their spots on the plane to Australia. The trip will also be an interesting one for Brendan Nash, who played for Queensland before qualifying to become a West Indies international.
Fast bowler Fidel Edwards was not named in the squad because of a knee injury. Edwards had a problem with his knee after returning from the Champions League in India and missed the ongoing WICB President's Cup.
The announcement puts a lid on speculation over whether Daren Ganga, who captained Trinidad & Tobago to the final of the inaugural Champions League, would be handed the West Indies position. Ganga's leadership in India had been widely commended and fuelled the speculation but John Dyson, the recently deposed West Indies coach, revealed selectors had previously baulked at moves to restore him to the captaincy over concerns that his batting was not up to the rigors of international cricket. Ganga scored three centuries in 48 Tests between 1998 and 2008, averaging just 25.71.
"There was certainly some hesitation there," Dyson told Cricinfo before the confirmation of Gayle's captaincy. "Daren is obviously an impressive bloke and he is well suited to leading the Trinidadian side, but from my talks with selectors, the feeling was that he had not really grasped his opportunities in his 48 Tests."
Dyson, who predicted Gayle would hold on to the job, said it would be "wise of the selectors" to gauge his commitment to it. "Many of the things that have happened to the West Indies team haven't been his fault," Dyson said. "A lot of people would be tempted by the IPL and other leagues, and I think more and more players will let it be known that they are not totally committed to their teams. If Chris is committed to international cricket, I think he could yet be a good captain."
Gayle has had mixed results as captain, winning three Tests out of 14 and 13 ODIs out of 38. He led West Indies to two series wins in one-dayers, including an away victory against England last year, and against the touring Sri Lanka. He presided over a surprise win in the first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg but his side went on to lose the next two games and the series. His other Test wins came against Sri Lanka in Port-of-Spain to level the two match series and a deciding win over England at home earlier this year, before West Indies handed back the Wisden Trophy when they toured just after.
Squad: Chris Gayle (capt), Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Gavin Tonge.