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Shillingford in Test frame


TONY COZIER

Shillingford in Test frame

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AFTER ten years blocked from West Indies selection mainly by a suspect action, Shane Shillingford has comeinto the reckoning for the currenthome series against South Africa.The 27-year-old Dominican off-spinner’s performances for the West Indies “A” team over the past month in the home series against Zimbabwe and on the current tour in Bangladesh have caught the attentionof selectors.With the clear purpose of having him ready for the three Tests against South Africa between June 10 and 26, they have ordered him back to the Caribbean when the Bangladesh assignment ends on Wednesday rather than include him in the squad for the subsequent tour of Ireland and England.If he does gain selection, Shillingford would be the fifth West Indies Test player from Dominica, following his namesakes, but no relations – Grayson and Irvine – and Norbert Phillip and Adam Sanford, who gained selection while residing in Antigua and representing the Leeward Islands.Sulieman Benn, the beanpole left-armer, has been the West Indies’ main spinnerfor the last ten consecutive Tests in which he has taken 28 of his 35 wicketsat an average of 43.57.In addition to Shillingford’s current form and the confidence that his delivery conforms to the revised law on throwing, he owes his call-up to the South Africans’ perceived vulnerability to off-spin.He took 14 wickets at an averageof 18.14 in the two recent four-day matches against Zimbabwe “A” in Grenada and Bangladesh “A” in Bangladesh and 11 in the five matches of the tri-series in Bangladesh that also involved South Africa “A” at an average of 17 and an economy rate of 3.97.Shillingford was called three timesfor throwing by top West Indies umpire Steve Bucknor in a regional Busta Cup match between the Windwardsand Leewards in 2001.Three years later, the law was changed to allow spin bowlers a 15-degree flex in their elbows on delivery. Shillingfordhas not been called since.Test batsmen Travis Dowlin, captain in Bangladesh, and left-hander Brendan Nash are the others who will return home for the South Africa series, to be replaced by teenaged opener Kraigg Brathwaite, all-rounder Dave Bernard and batsman/wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher. Darren Bravo, the classy, 20-year-old, left-handed brother of Dwayne, remains with the “A” team for whom he was the outstanding batsman in Bangladesh.He had scores of 69, 67 not out, 107 not out, 69, and two in the 50-overs tri-series for an average of 104.66 and hit 102 and 37 in the win over Bangladesh “A” in the first four-day match last week.While there appears no place for him at present in the XI for the first Test against South Africa at Sabina Park, from June 10 to 14, the selectors presumably feel that he can quickly return from the “A” team tourof England if required later. 

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