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West Indies have recalled Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles to their squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia, and have made a surprise pick by including the uncapped legspin-bowling allrounder Yannic Cariah, who last played a T20 in 2016. The selectors left out the experienced duo of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine.
Lewis last played international cricket at last year's T20 World Cup in the UAE, and had since missed out on West Indies' squads for fitness reasons. Over recent months, CWI lead selector Desmond Haynes and director of cricket Jimmy Adams had been critical of West Indies' players - Lewis in particular - for failing to meet fitness standards, but Haynes has now welcomed Lewis back to the team.
"Someone like Evin Lewis, we all agree that he's our best one-day cricketer, he's done so well for us over the years," Haynes told Ian Bishop in an interview on the sidelines of Wednesday's CPL game between Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots. "We had a meeting with him, and he's committed to West Indies cricket, and I believe he should be given the opportunity.
"Sometimes we have to move on and appreciate when people come to us and explain their position to us, and if we agree, we give them a chance," Haynes later said in a press conference.
Russell also last featured for West Indies during last year's T20 World Cup. He has had a quiet time in CPL 2022 so far with Trinbago Knight Riders, particularly with the bat, managing a top score of just 17.
Cariah, 30, made his West Indies debut during last month's ODI series against New Zealand and his experience in the T20 format is limited to four games, the last of which came during the 2016 CPL. Cariah is not contracted to a CPL team this season.
The selectors picked Cariah ahead of Hayden Walsh, who had been the preferred wristspin option over recent months.
"When we look at consistency, we don't feel that Hayden is consistent enough," Haynes said. "We don't write off anybody, because Hayden is somebody we have invested in, and we believe that he still stands a chance of playing for the West Indies, and we hope again that he is another one that will continue to do well in the CPL and give himself a chance to be selected."
Haynes was confident Cariah could do a job in T20 cricket despite his limited experience of the format.
"I think Yannic has impressed us from the time we picked him for the A team," Haynes said. "And then we gave him the opportunity to play against New Zealand in the 50-overs competition, and I think going to Australia, I know we've got a lot of confidence in him, we think that he's bowling well enough that [he] can play in the T20 format. It's a bit unfortunate that he's not in the CPL, we have no control over that, but we think that he is a guy who we feel can do a job for us. I don't think you can underrate his batting either."
Fabian Allen, who recently announced his availability for selection after taking a break for family reasons, was absent from the squad. Haynes said Allen was unfortunate to miss out with the squad having room for only one left-arm spinner in Akeal Hosein.
Apart from Cariah, the squad includes one other uncapped T20I player in Raymon Reifer, the left-arm seam-bowling allrounder who has played three Tests and five ODIs. Reifer has been in excellent form for Jamaica Tallawahs in the ongoing CPL, scoring 171 runs in four innings at an average of 57 and a strike rate of 143.69.
Among other seam-bowling allrounders, there was no room for Romario Shepherd - Haynes termed his exclusion "another close call" - while Dominic Drakes was unavailable due to a knee injury.
"His bowling has gone off a little bit and he is very good in the backend with six-hitting. It was a close thing, but because of the composition of the side, he missed out on this occasion," Haynes said of Shepherd's exclusion.
CPL form has also led to a recall for Charles, who last played a T20I in December 2016. Charles is presently the second-highest run-getter in CPL 2022, with 227 runs in six innings at an average of 45.40 and a strike rate of 136.74.
Charles, Haynes said, would fill the role of reserve wicketkeeper in West Indies' squad behind Pooran.
"Judging from his performances in the CPL, he [Charles] is experienced as well, he had a tour of Australia, he's done well down there, and also we are looking at someone who can be the second keeper," Haynes said.