Caribbean concern: Two Australians have played 233 Tests. 15 West Indian tourists have played 235
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The West Indies’ hopes of breaking a 27-year losing drought on Australian soil has taken a major blow after the omission of star all-rounder Jason Holder and a number of other experienced players ahead of their two-Test tour early next year.
Australia’s dominant 360-run victory over Pakistan in the first Test in Perth has already sparked concerns over the competitiveness of touring sides this summer and it could get a lot worse given the quality of players selected by West Indies selectors.
Seven of the 15 players selected to tour Australia have never played Test cricket, meaning the West Indies will have to field at least four debutants in the side’s opening Test in Adelaide on January 17.
The West Indies squad has a combined 235 Tests of experience (15.67 games per player), with only four players having more than eight games to their name.
For context, Nathan Lyon (123) and David Warner (110) have 233 Tests between them.
Zachary McCaskie, Tevin Imlach, Justin Greaves, Kavem Hodge, Kevin Sinclair, Akeem Jordan and Shamar Joseph could all make their Test debuts against an Australian side that has lost just two of its past 23 Tests on home soil.
Holder, who has captained his country on 37 occasions from 64 Tests, has opted out of the series, instead preferring to play the ILT20 in the UAE.
The 32-year-old wants to play more T20 before next year’s 20-over World Cup but stressed he wasn’t turning his back on red ball cricket.
West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder. Credit: AP
“It’s my first time going through something like this and I felt that it was necessary to be as honest and as open with CWI as I possibly can,” Holder told ESPN. “It was a very difficult decision. I just feel as though this is the right cricketing decision for me at this time.
“It was a difficult one but as much as I love Test cricket, I want to give myself the best chance of playing in that World Cup.”
Outside of captain Kraigg Brathwaite and fast bowling vice-captain Alzarri Joseph, there is a distinct lack of depth in this West Indies squad.
It is a stark contrast to the fearsome sides they fielded in the 1990s.
15-man West Indies squad
1. Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain)
2. Alzarri Joseph (Vice-Captain)
3. Tagenarine Chanderpaul
4. Kirk McKenzie
5. Alick Athanaze
6. Kavem Hodge
7. Justin Greaves
8. Joshua DaSilva
9. Akeem Jordan
10. Gudakesh Motie
11. Kemar Roach
12. Kevin Sinclair
13. Tevin Imlach
14. Shamar Joseph
15. Zachary McCaskie
Fast bowler Kemar Roach will be one of the familiar faces, having taken 29 wickets from 11 Tests against Australia at an average of 42.72.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul, the son of West Indian great Shivnarine, returns for another tour of Australia after debuting last summer. He made 160 runs from four innings but only passed 50 once.
The West Indies will arrive in Australia on December 30 before playing a four-day match against a Cricket Australia XI at the Karen Rolton Oval from January 10 to 13.
“The squad has been affected by the unavailability of some key players,” said head selector Desmond Haynes. “However, we have had a very strong red-ball program being run over the past year, which has unearthed significant talent throughout the region.
“The selected players have passed each test given to them and must now be given the opportunity to showcase their skills in the test arena. Australia away is always a challenge, but we are confident in our team.”
The West Indies have not won a Test in Australia since their 10-wicket victory in February 1997 in Perth.
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