Russell, Simmons, Lewis opt out of West Indies tour of New Zealand
(From left) Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons.
Jamaica all-rounder Andre Russell has chosen not to participate in the proposed tour of New Zealand, which will feature three T20 Internationals and two Test matches from November 27 to December 15.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) confirmed the development on Friday after releasing two squads for the tour.
Top order batsmen Lendl Simmons, and Evin Lewis, both from Trinidad and Tobago, have also opted out.
CWI said it "respected their decision" while stating it would not impact future selections. No official reason was given for their unavailability.
Details of the tour were ratified by CWI’s Board of Directors during a teleconference on Thursday. The Board agreed to the tour in principle, subject to final details on medical and logistical protocols of CWI, New Zealand Cricket, and the Government of New Zealand.
There are two Jamaicans named in the Test squad. They are opening batsman John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood.
The Test squad sees the return left-handed batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer, as well as all-rounder Keemo Paul, while Shai Hope has been dropped.
Hope's form has been a concern for months, the batsman has managed just one half-century in his last 13 Tests. Following the squad announcements, lead selector Roger Harper said: "Shai is a player who I think has a tremendous future in Test cricket but at the moment he needs to reorganise his Test match game and get his batting in the longest version, back to its best."
Bravo’s highest Test score of 218 came at the University Oval in Dunedin in 2013. A group of reserves will also travel to help prepare the Test squad during the quarantine period and training camp as well as cover for injuries.
Four Jamaicans are named in the T20I squad. They are Sheldon Cottrel, Fabian Allen, Brandon King, Rovman Powell, and Oshane Thomas.
Meanwile, Andre Fletcher, the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman has been named in the T20I squad for the first time since 2018. There is a maiden call-up in this format for Kyle Mayers, the all-rounder, who performed well in last month’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The CWI Selection Panel indicated that the upcoming series will form part of the overall planning towards defending the ICC World T20 title. The panel outlined that it will continue to monitor closely the progress of spin bowler Sunil Narine and all other players in the lead-up to the global event.
Harper further added that “the return of Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul will bolster the team, I expect that Darren will solidify the top-order, hopefully making it more productive, while Shimron gives the squad more options in the middle-order and it is another opportunity for him to show how good a player he is.
"Keemo provides another wicket taking seam option. The Test team has an opportunity to put into practice the learnings from the tour of England earlier this year. The team has good all-round depth and I expect them be very competitive. New Zealand is a very good team especially in New Zealand, so we need to be on the top of our game.”
Speaking on the T20 squad, Harper said: “Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell are two very experienced T20 players who performed very well on the last tour of Sri Lanka and their absence will surely be noted. However, Andre Fletcher has another opportunity to show us what he can do and what he brings to the table.”
Harper added: “The T20I team is now getting back into the groove after a nine-month absence from international competition. Fortunately, a number of players have been involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and before that the CPL, so they have had some competitive cricket leading up to this tour.
"The structure of the tour with the COVID-19 quarantine period, does not give the team any real opportunity for match practice as a team but there are a number of experienced players in the team so, hopefully, they can adapt quickly.
“In the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup, every T20I series is an important opportunity to fine tune the team, to get our personnel, our compositions and combinations right. For our players to become more attuned to their roles and the team to have a greater understanding of what works best in each situation. So, this is a very important series for us from that perspective and also in an effort to improve our rankings.”
West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.
T20I squad: Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.
PROPOSED MATCH SCHEDULE
November 27: 1st T20I at Eden Park, Auckland
November 29: 2nd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
November 30: 3rd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
December 3-7: 1st Test at Seddon Park, Hamilton
December 11-15: 2nd Test at Basin Reserve, Wellington