Phil Simmons, the West Indies head coach, has admitted that hosts Bangladesh are the clear favourites against his depleted contingent in the upcoming five-match series.
With an inexperienced line-up, which includes the notable absence of Test skipper Jason Holder (Barbados) and One Day International (ODI) captain Kieron Pollard (Trinidad), Simmons certainly has his work cut out.
The Windies landed in Bangladesh on January 10, so are preparing for yet another whistlestop overseas tour during the coronavirus crisis, having produced a tepid display in England last July and been outplayed by New Zealand – but this could be third time lucky.
A trio of 50 overs ODIs and a pair of Test matches will be a tricky ask, but at least the tourists have managed to be involved in competitive matches whereas Bangladesh last played when Zimbabwe were the visitors in March.
It is therefore no wonder why Simmons holds little hope for his troops. A total of 11 players originally selected for the tour, which starts with a one day warm-up game in Savar on January 18, are missing that leaves an astonishing total of nine newcomers in the 15-man ODI squad.
Simmons, who hosted his first press conference for the tour yesterday via Zoom, explained about those turning down the latest tour: “It’s up to the individual and it is the players’ judgement to make their call. It’s definitely not easy to be away from home for any of us.
“All our players have been given their options [to not tour] since the first series in England. Some took their options in the first tour, some choose in the second series in New Zealand and some decided to skip the third [tour] here in Bangladesh.
“We are one of the most experienced teams to be inside the bio-secure bubble, and you know you have to stick to the bio-secure environment and keep the health safety intact and it’s all about learning as you go along.”
The squad arrived in Dhaka, all producing negative test results for COVID-19 in the capital city earlier this week, and will undertake strict quarantine protocols prior to training and kicking off preparations.
The Windies’ plans were scuppered after Barbados’ bowler Keon Harding was drafted in last week to replace Romario Shepherd in the ODI squad, following a positive COVID-19 test from the Guyana all rounder.
Simmons added: “Bangladesh is clearly favourites, because they play well at home. Sometimes experience plays a part, but sometimes enthusiasm and hunger trumps experience – we do have a few experienced players.”
Cricket West Indies (CWI) were dealt the bitter blow of missing their experienced leaders Holder and Pollard.
Other players who declined the opportunity to tour Bangladesh, due to COVID-19 related concerns, are Darren Bravo (Trinidad & Tobago), Shamarh Brooks (Barbados), Test vice captain Roston Chase (Barbados), Evin Lewis (Trinidad), Shai Hope (Barbados), Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana), Nicholas Pooran (Trinidad) and Sheldon Cottrell (Jamaica).
Jamaican all rounder Fabian Allen was unavailable for the latest tour, due to personal reasons. However, Jamaica boast a strong influx in the Test squad comprising Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner and John Campbell, with Andre McCarthy and Rovman Powell both part of the ODI set up.
Tomorrow (January 14) the contingent end their three-day isolation for elite athletes, so are scheduled to take to the nets at the Academy Ground at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.
Their inaugural action is set to begin with an inter-squad 50-over contest at BKSP, just two days before the opening ODI match on January 20.
Kraigg Brathwaite, an opening batsman, takes over the Test team from his compatriot Holder with Jamaican batsman Jermaine Blackwood installed as vice captain.
Jason Mohammed is the surprise choice to lead the limited overs side. The former Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies A team captain, who last represented the Windies two years ago, will have batsman Sunil Ambris (St. Vincent) as vice captain.
The trio of ODIs will be the first matches in the Windies’ ICC World Cup Super League campaign, which offers the opportunity to qualify for the lucrative ICC World Cup 2023. While the two Tests will form part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Test Championship.
Simmons managed to put a positive spin on the tour when he enthused: “We left the Caribbean with the aim to win the ODI series.
“We don’t have our full [first choice] team, but at the same time we have a team here which is hungry, wants to do well and eager to play, fight and scrap in these conditions.”
WI Test squad: Jermaine Blackwood (Jamaica), Nkrumah Bonner (Jamaica), Kraigg Brathwaite (Barbados), John Campbell (Jamaica), Rahkeem Cornwall (Antigua), Joshua Da Silva (Trinidad & Tobago), Shannon Gabriel (Trinidad & Tobago), Kavem Hodge (Dominica), Alzarri Joseph (Antigua), Kyle Mayers (Barbados), Shayne Moseley (Barbados), Veerasammy Permaul (Guyana), Kemar Roach (Barbados), Raymon Reifer (Barbados), Jomel Warrican (St. Vincent)
ODI squad: Sunil Ambris (St. Vincent), Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Jahmar Hamilton (Anguilla), Keon Harding (Barbados), Chemar Holder (Barbados), Akeal Hosein (Trinidad), Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Andre McCarthy (Jamaica), Jason Mohammed (Trinidad & Tobago), Kjorn Ottley (Trinidad & Tobago), Rovman Powell (Jamaica), Raymon Reifer (Guyana), Hayden Walsh Jr (Antigua)
WI Tour schedule
|January 18||One day warm-up match, Savar|
|January 20||1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka|
|January 22||2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka|
|January 28-31||3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram|
|February 3-7||Four day warm-up match, M.A. Aziz Stadium, Chattogram|
|February 3-7||1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram|
|February 11-15||2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka|