Windies find replacement players for first Test
KINGSTOWN: The West Indies have been forced into assembling a new-look side for the opening Test against Bangladesh, starting at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Thursday.
A contract dispute with players led to a boycott by the 13-member squad which was announced on Monday, protesting outstanding payments and other issues.
But the West Indies Cricket Board searched high and low throughout the Caribbean, and has found 15 players willing to don the maroon cap and take to the field.
The website of the team's official sponsors Digicel carried photos of 11 of the players taking part in a training session late on Wednesday at the ground.
The practising squad included several players with Test experience with the most prominent being Darren Sammy.
The all-rounder played in the Twenty20 World Cup, but was strangely left out of the recent One-day International home series against India.
Fast bowler Tino Best has also earned a recall, after four years in the cricket wilderness.
Ironically, Best's previous Test appearance was in similar circumstances four years ago, when a dispute over image and sponsorship rights also forced a boycott by the elite players.
There is also a recall for the 36-year-old left-handed batsman Floyd Reifer, whose last Test was a decade ago against South Africa at Centurion. He is expected to be named captain.
Fast bowler Kemar Roach, who has appeared in two ODIs and one Twenty20 International, has also agreed to appear, as well as fellow fast bowler Nelon Pascal and opening batsman Dale Richards.
Pascal and Richards made the recent trip to England, but failed to break into either the Test or ODI sides.
The rest of the players taking part in the training session were batsmen Travis Dowlin and Omar Phillips, wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton, off-spinner Ryan Austin, who captured nine wickets against the Bangladeshis in the opening tour match, and fast-medium bowler Kevin McClean.
Four others players were travelling from Jamaica to join them later on Wednesday. They are teenagers Kraigg Brathwaite and Andre Creary, who were preparing for the annual West Indies youth championships in Kingston, as well as all-rounder Dave Bernard Jr and left-arm spinner Nikita Miller.
Bernard appeared in the recent ODIs against India and played his only Test six years ago against Australia at Port of Spain's Queen's Park Oval, while Miller has made 15 ODI appearances in the last year.
Media reports indicate that the WICB are unlikely to officially release the names of the squad until just prior to the start due to fears about intimidation of players.
Ryan Austin, Dave Bernard Jr, Tino Best, Kraigg Brathwaite, Andre Creary, Travis Dowlin, Kevin McClean, Nikita Miller, Nelon Pascal, Omar Phillips, Floyd Reifer, Dale Richards, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Chadwick Walton