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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Colin Croft column

Colin Croft
By Colin Croft
Former West Indies fast bowler

West Indies have named their squad for the tour of England - the first of the post-Brian Lara era - and one of the major surprises is the omission of Marlon Samuels.

In the beginning, he was suggested as being perhaps as talented as the new West Indies captain, Ramnaresh Sarwan.

In some minds, Sarwan and Samuels were supposed to have rekindled the batsmanship of contemporaries Alvin Kallicharran and Lawrence Rowe.

New West Indies captain Sarwan and former skipper Brian Lara
Out with the old and in with the new as Lara makes way for Sarwan

Yet, Samuels is now dropped, when even Lara, too, had earmarked him as being one for the future. It seems very strange indeed.

In the batting stakes, it is heartening to have Runako Morton back and I also applaud the return of Sylvester Joseph.

Morton should not have been dropped for the Cricket World Cup. His talent, enthusiasm and sure-handedness will be a bonus for the new captain.

Joseph experienced Test cricket in Sri Lanka in 2005 and has looked a good leader. His batsmanship, along with Morton's, will be necessary.

Gayle, though, will have to rally his own mind, and his game, or he will go the same way as Samuels.

The return of Daren Ganga will also help the team's effort, and will put some additional pressure on both Gayle and the other recent opening batsman, Devon Smith.

The West Indies selectors must think highly of the English bowlers to select three main, and quite senior, opening batsmen, for such a short Test tour - amazing and strange too!

But in the bowling department there is no spinner included which is also an odd decision.

Although the Test games will be played primarily in May and June, when the pitches should have some juice, enough to help the faster bowlers, the start of the county season has been blessed with lots of sunshine and spinners have been taking a heck of a lot of wickets.

Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell are vastly improved fast bowlers and should enjoy the trip if the ball swings around

Colin Croft

Dwayne Bravo is another like Gayle. He looks spectacular; his enthusiasm too is great, but his production has been severely lacking.

Darren Sammy is a wonderful addition. He would have played in the World Cup had he not suffered from an injury just before.

He always gives 100% and keeps trying hard. His presence could also push Bravo to perform, since both are medium paced all-rounders.

Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell are vastly improved fast bowlers and should enjoy the trip if the ball swings around, while Fidel Edwards must concentrate fully on length and line.

If he goes well, he could be a handful for any batsman.

Another returnee, Ravi Rampaul, will also push these senior faster bowlers, but he too will have to be very careful about his fitness over the tour.

There is also no second wicket-keeper, so Denesh Ramdin will have to work diligently at his game, both facets of which, wicket-keeping and batting, have fallen off sharply in recent times.

It is going to be a steep learning curve for Sarwan but I believe the West Indies could win the series.

The bowling will probably hold its own, but they will have to bat very well indeed.

The expectation is high, since this could be the start of a new dimension to West Indies cricket, even though all of the names are fairly old.

Of course, we have heard all this before so it will be left to the players themselves to produce, impress and convince.

Samuels dropped for England tour
02 May 07 |  West Indies
Sarwan named new Windies skipper
01 May 07 |  West Indies
West Indies in England 2007
08 Jan 07 |  Cricket


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