KINGSTOWN: Devon Smith is back in West Indies’ Test squad after a gap of nearly three years. The selectors have also called up the uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Jahmar Hamilton for the home Test series against Sri Lanka, which starts on June 6.
With only 13 players in the squad, four players who made the trip to New Zealand for West Indies’ last Test assignment, in December 2017, have been left out – batsmen Sunil Ambris and Jermaine Blackwood, the all-rounder Raymon Reifer, and the fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his back.
The Cricket West Indies (CWI) release announcing the Test squad, interestingly, lists three Test matches as originally scheduled – in Trinidad (June 6-10), St Lucia (June 14-18) and Barbados (day-night match, June 23 to 27) – rather than two. ESPNcricinfo understands that CWI was considering scrapping one Test in favour of limited-overs internationals, to ease some of the board’s financial burdens.
Smith, 36, last played a Test match during the 2015 tour of England. He has returned on the back of his chart-topping exploits for the Windward Islands in the 2017-18 Regional Four-Day Tournament, in which he scored 1095 runs at an average of 84.23, with six hundred in ten matches.
The 27-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, impressed for West Indies A during a home series against England Lions in February-March, scoring 100, 29 and 79 in the two first-class matches. He is one of two wicketkeepers in the West Indies squad alongside Shane Dowrich.
Ambris has been left out after a bizarre maiden Test series in New Zealand, where he was a hit-wicket first ball on debut and dismissed in the same fashion in the next match as well. In the second innings of his second Test, a short ball from Neil Wagner fractured his left forearm and ruled him out of the rest of the tour. He has recovered from the injury, but not in time to play any first-class cricket, though he was part of a five-day batting camp in Barbados from May 8 to 12.
Blackwood was part of the camp as well but hasn’t found a place in the squad. He didn’t get to play either of the two Tests in New Zealand, while Reifer made his debut in the second Test in Hamilton, scoring 23 not out and 29 and taking a wicket in each innings. Reifer, like Ambris and Blackwood, was among the contenders for a place in the squad, having been part of a 10-man fast bowlers’ camp in Antigua, from April 30 to May 9.