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Feature

Seven West Indies players who could use the CPL as a springboard for a T20 World Cup spot

Fitness issues, little game time and lack of form have affected these players in recent times

Deivarayan Muthu
30-Aug-2022
Evin Lewis celebrates his brilliant century, Trinbago Knight Riders vs St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, CPL 2021, Basseterre, September 11, 2021

Can Evin Lewis force his way back for the T20 World Cup?  •  Getty Images

The absence of West Indies' top players during their recent international home season created a stir, but they will now return to action for CPL 2022. According to Desmond Haynes, the chief selector, CPL performances will be considered for selection for the T20 World Cup, in which West Indies will play the first round to qualify for the Super 12s. ESPNcricinfo picks out seven players for whom this CPL season could be a big deal.
Evin Lewis (St Kitts & Nevis Patriots)
Lewis didn't appear for the fitness test that had been arranged for him by Cricket West Indies (CWI) during his IPL stint with Lucknow Super Giants, according to Haynes. Lewis has since got gigs in the Lanka Premier League (Jaffna Kings) and T10 league (Bangla Tigers) and on Sunday, he captained St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to the inaugural men's 6ixty title. With Chris Gayle making himself unavailable for CPL 2022, Patriots will look up to Lewis for the opening salvos. He hasn't played for West Indies since the 2021 T20 World Cup and needs a bumper CPL season to force his way into the T20I side for the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.
Fabian Allen (Jamaica Tallawahs)
Allen has made himself available for national selection ahead of the T20 World Cup following a statement about his father's death. He had declined a central contract with West Indies earlier this year and had taken a break during the international home season. Allen had marked his return to competitive cricket with a 33-ball 82 not out - the highest individual score in the men's 6ixty - and finished as the tournament's highest run-scorer. All up, Allen smashed 14 sixes in the 6ixty; only Andre Russell (15) hit more sixes. If he can press on further in the CPL, Allen has a chance to return to the T20I XI as the spin-bowling allrounder.
Roston Chase (St Lucia Kings)
Chase is another player vying for the spin-bowling allrounder's spot for the T20 World Cup. He is recovering from injury, though, and has not played competitive cricket since turning out for WICB XI against the touring Bangladesh side in a three-day fixture in June.
He was picked as West Indies' anchor for the 2021 T20 World Cup, but form and fitness issues pulled him down the pecking order. With Kings letting go of Obed McCoy, Keemo Paul and Rahkeem Cornwall, they would also want more from Chase with the ball in conditions that could aid the slower bowlers.
Sheldon Cottrell (St Kitts and Nevis Patriots)
Cottrell is another player who is working his way back from injury and hoping to prove his fitness in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup. Like Chase, Cottrell missed the 6ixty and has dropped down the pecking order, with McCoy establishing himself as West Indies' frontline left-arm seamer during the home season. While McCoy can hit speeds north of 145kph and also cut it down with his collection of variations, he isn't a genuine swing bowler like Cottrell, and not as useful in powerplays.
Oshane Thomas (Barbados Royals)
When on song, Thomas can consistently hit speeds above 140kph and can also generate extra bounce with his tall frame. He was a potent force for West Indies when they ran through Pakistan in the 50-over World Cup in 2019, but fitness issues have since seen him fade away. Thomas has played just 15 white-ball internationals since that ODI World Cup and has not played a T20 game since December 2021. He will have to compete with Alzarri Joseph for one of the fast bowlers' slots in the West Indies side.
Andre Fletcher (St Kitts and Nevis Patriots)
The self-styled 'Spiceman' was a notable omission in West Indies' recent white-ball squads, with the selectors leaning towards Shamarh Brooks, who is more of a Test and ODI batter, as the back-up opener and Devon Thomas as the back-up keeper. Fletcher is set to open with Lewis for his new franchise Patriots and recently also won a deal with Mumbai Emirates in the UAE's ILT20. Fletcher has also had a stint in the BBL with Melbourne Stars and although that didn't go too well, he appears to be a better option than Brooks or Devon Thomas.
Hayden Walsh Jr (Barbados Royals)
Akeal Hosein has established himself as West Indies' frontline fingerspinner - with or without Sunil Narine - but there are questions over legspinner Walsh's potency (or the lack thereof). During the home series against India and New Zealand, Walsh struggled for control and often let the opposition batters hit with the wind. Walsh's wrong'un, however, can be deceptive as it skids off the pitch and despite his patchy form, it is quite hard to see a side travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup without a wristspinner. In 2019, it was the CPL that propelled Walsh into the international spotlight. He now returns to the scene of his emergence in his quest to relaunch his international career.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo