BARBADOS: Darren Bravo is set to play his first Test in more than two years, after being named in West Indies’ squad for the first Test against England in Barbados next week.
Bravo, who hasn’t played Test cricket since the tour of the UAE in October 2016, was recalled to the West Indies one-day squad late last year following talks between Cricket West Indies and a handful of its estranged high-profile players.
With 3400 runs at 40.00 in 49 Test appearances, Bravo’s return adds a welcome layer of experience to a West Indies’ batting line-up that struggled on their recent tour of Bangladesh, losing the series 2-0 including an innings defeat in the second Test in Dhaka.
He could be joined by two debutants in West Indies’ batting ranks, following the inclusions of John Campbell, a 26-year-old left-handed opener from Jamaica, and Shamarh Brooks, a 30-year-old Bajan who captained the West Indies Under-19 team at the 2008 World Cup.
Alzarri Joseph, the Antiguan quick, could be set to play in his first Test since the tour of England in 2017 after earning a recall to the squad, although his fellow fast bowler Oshane Thomas has been named as cover as Joseph continues his comeback from a stress fracture of the back.
“After a difficult Test Series in Bangladesh late last year the opportunity presents itself for our team to pick itself up,” said Courtney Brown, West Indies’ chairman of selectors. “Although a tough series against England is anticipated, home turf has always been a place where our team has made strides.”
That assertion is borne out by West Indies’ recent home record against England. After surrendering the Wisden Trophy for the first time in 36 years in 2004, they have not lost a series to England on home soil since. In 2009, they won 1-0 after bowling the visitors out for 51 in Jamaica, and then secured a 1-1 draw with victory in the third Test in Barbados in 2015.
“With the return of Darren Bravo, who will add value to a batting department, we expect to see marked improvement,” added Browne. “Young, exciting, fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who was sidelined by injury, returns to the squad and Shamarh Brooks has been elevated for his solid first-class performances over the last three years.
“John Campbell the incumbent ‘A’ team opener, who has played first-class cricket for a number of years, will open the batting after a good first-class season in 2018. The panel takes this opportunity to wish captain Jason Holder and his team all the best in the upcoming series.”
CEO Johnny Grave added: “The Wisden Trophy has got incredible history and the West Indies have got a proud record to defend. England have only won one Test Series on West Indies soil in 50 years. We hope that our fans will once again become the team’s twelfth man and rally to create the noise and colour that gives the squad the support they deserve and register a win in what will be a great battle.”