Shai Hope has been picked in West Indies' squad for the first Test against South Africa, and could make a return to their Test XI after being dropped last year. Trinidad & Tobago's Jayden Seales, the 19-year-old rookie fast bowler, has also made the cut after being named in the 17-man squad for the series earlier. Shannon Gabriel has missed out on selection due to injury. The inclusion of Hope, who also keeps wicket, has meant that Jahmar Hamilton misses out as backup-keeper to Joshua Da Silva.
Darren Bravo was left out of the squad, while Roston Chase and Kieran Powell - who last played a Test in 2018 - are also in line for a Test return, having missed West Indies' series against Sri Lanka in March. There is familiarity apart from these changes, with Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, and Rahkeem Cornwall all but certain to be the frontline bowlers. Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was the fourth player to miss out.
Seales's only first-class match so far was for West Indies A in New Zealand last December, and in all, he has played only ten professional games at senior level. Seales was particularly impressive in the Team Hamilton vs Team Blackwood four-day intra-squad game more recently, taking 4 for 40 in the second innings, including the wickets of Hope and Bravo.
"Jayden Seales is young, very enthusiastic and has a big heart. In the 'Best v Best' matches he bowled with pace, got movement and has displayed the ability to take wickets. We think he is capable of adding potency to the bowling attack," said CWI chief selector Roger Harper about Seales' inclusion. Seales had first made an impression in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa last year, claiming ten wickets in six matches at an average of 18.30 and an economy rate of 3.89. He went on to bag a CPL deal with the Trinbago Knight Riders, who have retained him ahead of the upcoming season.
"Kieran Powell we know is a very capable batsman who we expect to add quality and depth to the batting department. He put himself in the mix with his performance in the Best v Best match. Shai Hope has performed very well in the red ball matches he has played, following on the back of his highly successful One-Day International series against Sri Lanka, so he has forced his way into the squad by performance," said Harper.
Hope was dropped after a prolonged period of low scores last year, and has missed series in New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in the interim. He was, however, tipped for "a tremendous future in Test cricket" by Harper, who said he was being given time to work on his game. Hope has been West Indies' most successful ODI batter and averages 53.74 after 81 games in the format, but hasn't found a similar gear in Tests - he averages 26.27 after 34 Tests, with only two hundreds.
Squad for the first Test: Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-capt), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales