Cricket: Gayle spearheads West Indies test squad

By David Leggat

Chris Gayle. Photo / Getty Images
Chris Gayle. Photo / Getty Images

Experienced batting, iffy bowling would be one characterisation of the West Indies squad for their three tests in New Zealand.

Their ordinary performances in the two test losses in India this month notwithstanding, they should be capable of delivering runs.

They have seasoned international performers in lefthanders Chris Gayle and Shiv Chanderpaul, a talented duo in Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo and top order pair Kirk Edwards - who hit a century on his debut against India in 2011 - and Kieron Powell are no slouches.

Chanderpaul averages 51.91 over his 150 tests and will be making his fifth New Zealand tour; Gayle 42.01 in his 99 - and 75 against New Zealand - lefthander Bravo is going at 42.65; Edwards at 39, Samuels at 36 and Powell at 30, so the expectation is that New Zealand's bowlers will have to sweat for success.

On his second visit four years ago, Gayle held up a possible New Zealand win in Napier by hitting 197 over eight and a half hours.

His limited-overs exploits should once again make him the most eye-catching performer on tour.

The West Indies could potentially have four lefthanders in their top six. Of the bowlers, take out offspinner Shane Shillingford and New Zealand's batsmen should fancy their chances of success.

There are four fast-medium bowlers, of whom fiery Tino Best is the, er, best known. He hit his only test 50, 95 at Birmingham last year, and with the ball is pricy, but can be lively.

Left armer Sheldon Cottrell, who fractured Martin Guptill's finger during the Caribbean League in August, is sharp; Shannon Gabriel is a big, strong right armer while captain Darren Sammy is a medium pacer, and sadly out of form.

He scored just 21 runs from four innings and took no wickets in 21 overs in India.

In the Indian tests, the West Indies opted for just two seamers, plus Sammy, and a couple of spinners. Shillingford is the key bowler.

The 30-year-old Dominican has taken 59 wickets in 12 tests at 31, gets bounce and has a deceptive doosra delivered with a high action. But it's his action which has him in difficulties.

He has been reported, not for the first time, for his action in India and must get remedial treatment and get an all clear in the next fortnight.

Put it this way: Shillingford took 11 wickets in the two Indian tests; no other bowler took more than two in the series.

Left arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and servicable offspinner Narsingh Deonarine offer Shillingford support.

But at first glance it looks a tour where the West Indies will lean heavily on the run productivity of an appealing top six. Otherwise New Zealand will believe they are a decent chance for a series win.

West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (c) Chris Gayle, Kieron Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin, Narsingh Deonarine, Tino Best, Veersammy Permaul, Shane Shillingford, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell, Chadwick Walton.

- NZ Herald

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