Shimron Hetmyer returns to West Indies squad for T20Is against India and New Zealand

Batter Shimron Hetmyer has returned to the West Indies T20I squad for the upcoming five-game series against India and the next three-game series against New Zealand after passing a fitness test. Hetmyer had been left out of the recent West Indies gym squads and more recently joined the ODI squad in Port-of-Spain working with the trainers and support staff. He last represented the West Indies in November 2021, at the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

“We welcome Hetmyer back and it’s good to see him in West Indian colors again,” chief selector Desmond Haynes said in a CWI media release. “He will strengthen the battle group and with his experience and adaptability we have a finisher who can add value and win games for the team and surprise the supporters.

“In everything we do, we have to keep in mind that there will be a big tournament later this year, the ICC T20 World Cup, so we are planning and preparing for that event. It’s good to get some exposure to the players to the international stage and looking for the right combinations.”

Lead-off hitter Evin Lewis, however, again was not part of the roster. After Lewis was overlooked for the recent home white-ball series against Bangladesh, Haynes had said Lewis failed to complete a fitness test arranged for him during his IPL stint at Lucknow Super Giants.

Left arm fingerpinner Gudakesh Motie, who was eliminated from the second and third ODIs against India with a broken thumb sustained while fielding, has not recovered sufficiently to be available for selection for the T20Is against India and New Zealand. In the absence of Motion, Akeal Hosein, the other left-armed finger spinner, and Hayden Walsh Jr, the leg pinner, are the first West Indies spin options.

All-rounder Fabian Allen, who can also bowl left-arm spin, has withdrawn for personal reasons. Allen has not played a competitive game since he made his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians in April 2022. Left-arm sailor Sheldon Cottrell, meanwhile, was unavailable due to injury.

All-rounders Dominic Drakes, who was part of the reserves for the T20Is against Bangladesh, and Jason Holder, who recovered from Covid-19 and proved his fitness in the third ODI against India on Wednesday, returned to the main squad. The West Indies have a wealth of all-round options to choose from: Keemo Paul, who has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained during the Bangladesh series, Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith are the others.

Devon Thomas has been retained as backup wicketkeeper to Pooran, ahead of Shai Hope. Aside from Thomas, Shamarh Brooks and Brandon King, all members of the West Indies T20I squad have tasted the IPL as either squad members or net bowlers. Hosein and Walsh Jr. have worked with Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals respectively as net bowlers.

The first T20I against India on Friday at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba will also be the first international match to be played at the venue. Warner Park in Basseterre will host the next two T20Is before the sides head to Lauderhill for the final two T20Is. Three days after the final T20I against India, the West Indies will face an entire team from New Zealand in a three-match T20I series in Jamaica.

Pooran had said earlier this week that he was wary of the workload but wanted his best players to be available for selection as the West Indies are on their way to the T20 World Cup this year and the ODI World Cup next year.

“That [managing workloads] is a difficult one because we want to win as a group and we want all our players to be available to us,” said Pooran. “But when we see that we have to take care of our players and that’s key as a collective effort for the coach , chairman of selectors and myself, we have to determine … not just myself, but the other guys we think should rest.

“Obviously that’s very important with eight T20 games coming up, four more ODIs and then CPL and the addition of the 6ixty and the CPL, we definitely need to manage the players. How? I’m not so sure but we we We have to figure it out and be smart about it too. But in the end we want to win and we have to have all our guys to be available to us.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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