West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has said that Sunil Narine could return to the T20 side after he regains confidence in his bowling action. Narine, who was warned for a suspect action at last year's IPL, has not been named in the squad to play South Africa in the five-match T20I series starting from Saturday. Earlier this year, following his absence from the T20I squad to play Sri Lanka, Narine had told the selectors that he was "not ready" to return to international cricket.
"He (Narine) had indicated to the selectors that he might have been available after the IPL," Pollard said. "Then, the IPL was cut short halfway through so he might not have got the necessary preparation or confidence in his action, so he indicated that he is still not ready. We'll play it by ear as we go along."
Narine last played for West Indies in August 2019, in a series against India, but there have been complaints over his bowling action since 2014. He was part of the first half of this year's IPL and has played for Trinidad and Tobago in the Super50 Cup before that, where he performed well with the ball. Given that spinners are likely to play a significant role in the next T20 World Cup, whether it is held in India or the UAE, Narine could be an important player for the West Indies; but for now, they have to plan without him.
That's no different to the way West Indies are usually forced to prepare for major tournaments - without big-name players - and Pollard explained it's one of the reasons their bilateral record has suffered. West Indies have only won two of their last eight T20I series but are the current T20 World Cup holders and have won the title once before, in 2012.
"We hear the noise, sometimes loud and clear. When you look at it from a logical perspective if you go with only youngsters, there will still be noise."Kieron Pollard
"Our results in ICC tournaments are good and I wouldn't want to change that," Pollard said. "It's just that when it comes to these kinds of series, it's about having the guys available or not. In World Cups, we tend to get the guys we want to have playing, playing."
But West Indies do have several superstars available for the South Africa series - with Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo in the squad. But that has come with criticisms of its own that Pollard is well aware of. "We hear the noise, sometimes loud and clear. When you look at it from a logical perspective if you go with only youngsters, there will still be noise. Whatever you do, there will be noise."
Gayle is 41, Fidel Edwards is 39, Bravo is 37, Lendl Simmons is 36 and Pollard is 34. The average age of the 13-man group is 31 years and nine months, and an obvious concern is whether West Indies are doing enough to ensure there is a smooth transition from one generation to the next or if they will be left with a vacuum when the senior players retire.
For now, Pollard is not thinking about that but rather how to get the best of the players he has, while he has them.
"If these guys are assets to us, why not use the little bit of cricket they have left in them?" he asked. "Some of these guys play around the world and then when we see them around the world, we ask why they are not playing for us, and now they are."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent