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by Mick the Ram
As the West Indies prepare to begin their ODI and T20 series of matches against England, wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich announced his retirement from international cricket, just a matter of days after receiving a call-up to the squad.
The players have been together for the past 10 days in Antigua, being put through strength and conditioning sessions, ahead of the first one-dayer, to be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on 3 December.
The two-time World Cup winners failed to qualify for the recent ODI tournament in India, so will see this three-game series as an important first step on their comeback trail. England meanwhile will have their own motivation to put in a good showing after failing spectacularly in the subcontinent, where they started as one of the favourites.
The 2nd ODI will start on 6 December in the same venue, before switching to Kensington Oval, Barbados for the concluding fixture, three days later.
The five-game T20 competition will also represent an excellent preparation for both sides in the lead up to next June’s World Cup in that format.
Barbados will also play host to the opening match for this series of games on 12 December, before two fixtures in Grenada’s National Stadium on the 14th and 16th, followed by two final meetings between the sides on the 19th and 21st December, both at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad.
Surprise call up then withdrawal
The 32-year-old Dowrich was called up on 20 November following a strong campaign in the Super50 Cup. He was expected to add to his one ODI cap – won back in 2019 – but his decision to step away was graciously accepted by Miles Bascombe.
The Cricket West Indies (CWI) director said the player had their full respect and that everybody appreciated that it would not have been an easy call to make. Paying tribute, he added: “We want to thank Shane for his contribution; he is a disciplined, hard-working cricketer who always gave his utmost in front and behind the stumps. We wish him all the best as he steps away from the international stage.”
New vice-captain and uncapped players
CWI also confirmed they will not be naming a replacement for Dowrich, which means they will pick from 14 players as they go into the series against England, captained by Shai Hope, who will have Alzarri Joseph as his new vice-captain.
The rest of the squad will be made up of: Alick Athanaze, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Gudakesh Motie, Kjorn Ottley, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas and the uncapped pair of all-rounders, 25-year-old Sherfane Rutherford from Guyana and 21-year-old Barbadian, Matthew Forde.
Haynes upbeat about series
Lead selector, Desmond Haynes justifying Forde’s inclusion said: “He is a whole-hearted cricketer who has been impressive, and is one of the players coming through the West Indies academy programme who can form part of the future.”
He also explained why Joseph had got the nod for vice-captain, saying: “He demonstrated maturity and good leadership qualities for the Leeward Islands Hurricanes during the recent Super50 Cup and we believe with exposure and opportunities he could be a future leader in West Indies cricket.”
Continuing to speak about the forthcoming series, Haynes stated: “England on tour of the West Indies is always filled with excitement and expectation. We expect this to be a hard-fought series, but we also believe this squad will do well in our home conditions and we are focused on building a solid team.”
Big players missing
The side will be without the experience of Nicholas Pooran, who is preparing for more T20 franchise action, and Jason Holder who is prioritising Test cricket and T20. There is also a notable absentee in Darren Bravo.
England looking to bounce back
England have named two separate squads, both to be captained by Jos Buttler, who endured a miserable time at the World Cup and will be desperate to put things right in the Caribbean.
He is one of just six players from that tournament to make the ODI squad here, with the others being: Gus Atkinson, Harry Brook, Brydon Carse, Sam Curran and Liam Livingstone. The remainder of the squad consists of: Rehan Ahmed, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Ollie Pope, Phil Salt, and uncapped John Turner.
Another uncapped player – seamer Josh Tongue, was originally included, but he dropped out last week through injury and his place has been taken by Matthew Potts.
For the T20’s Moeen Ali, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, and Chris Woakes have been called up, with Carse, Crawley, Hartley, and Pope missing out.
Likely to be close in series
The two sides have not met in an ODI since June 2019, when England won by eight wickets; although it was the West Indies who came out on top the last time these two faced off in a T20 match, when they triumphed by 17 runs, back in 2022.
Tough luck for Dominica
Both formats will be keenly contested, and the T20’s especially will be an opportunity for players to cement themselves firmly in the thoughts of their respective selectors, with the World Cup just around the corner.
Sadly, one venue that no longer will be part of the organisation for that tournament will be Dominica’s Windsor Park Sports Stadium, which was shortlisted for one group stage match and two games in the Super 8 stage of the competition.
The country’s sports ministry said it would “not be prudent” to commit to holding games because it will not be possible to complete renovation work on practice and match venues in time.
World Cup approaching
Dominica was one of seven Caribbean countries given matches for the World Cup taking place between 4 and 30 June 2024, and which will be co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States, where games will be played in Dallas, Florida, and New York.
The other six Caribbean nations chosen are: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.