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Sarwan’s in


Sarwan’s in

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NOW CLEARED of fitness concerns, Ramnaresh Sarwan has been recalled while underachievers Devon Smith and Ravi Rampaul are surprise inclusions in the West Indies’ World Cup cricket squad.
But there is no room for the Barbadian pair of Tino Best and Ryan Hinds in the 15-member squad announced yesterday for the prestigious 50 over-an-innings global tournament to be jointly held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2.
Neither has Trinidadian Lendl Simmons nor Jamaicans Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor, who had not been named in the provisional 30-man list, but are now playing and performing in the Caribbean Twenty20, been selected.
Seen improvement
In explaining the reason why former captain Sarwan, who was excluded from recent West Indies teams and not given a retainer contract because of fitness and attitudinal issues, has been selected, chairman of selectors Clyde Butts told reporters at Kensington Oval yesterday during a Press conference, that he had personally seen him train in Guyana and recognised improvements in his overall fitness and body structure.
Butts also noted there had been a report from the Guyana team’s trainer about the training Sarwan had been doing over the past five to six months, while he has played in the regional Twenty20 and 50-over competitions as well as the Champions League T20.
 “As we have said before, he was coming back into cricket and he didn’t play as much cricket as we would’ve liked.
He was getting injured more times than not so we have looked at him since then,” Butts said.
“We think, right now, he has played injury-free as well and he looks fit. We are satisfied that he is fit and that he can play cricket for us over a period of time without being injured,” Butts added, but acknowledged that injuries did happen.
He, however revealed that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) was unable to conduct its own fitness test on Sarwan, who has hit four centuries while amassing 5 098 runs in 156 ODIs at an average of 43.94.
The team, which will be led by St Lucian allrounder Darren Sammy, also includes rookie 22-year-old Jamaican fast bowler Andre Russell, the only player in the squad who is yet to play a One-Day International, while Carlton Baugh, whose last ODI was in 2008, gets the wicketkeeper’s position.
Also selected are sacked former skipper Chris Gayle, and Trinidadian allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, who all refused contracts offered by the West Indies Cricket Board for the 2011 season.
The trio is currently “Down Under” playing in the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 Tournament but participated in the last regional 50-over one-day tournament in Jamaica, qualifying for selection.
 “The selection committee deliberated extensively over the selection of this most important World Cup squad and while choosing some players was straightforward we believe that we have come up with a good mix of players who will be able to do well in the Asian conditions,” Butts further pointed out.
“We have some of the most experienced ODI cricketers on the international stage along with the effervescence and freshness of some quality young players who we are confident can not only contribute to the team but win matches,” he added.
Big-hitting Pollard, 23, only has one 50 in 30 ODI at an average of19.92 while the 29-year-old Smith, who according to Butts had been scoring runs with the “A” Team, averages 24.32 in 32 ODIs with three half-centuries and has a strike rate of 69.63.
Rampaul, 26, has taken49 wickets in 50 ODIs at 34.14 with an economy rate of 5.04 runs an over. He took three wickets at an expensive 65.66 runs apiece in his last four ODIs against South Africa in the West Indies’ last One-Day series.
Two spinners
Two specialist left-arm spinner, Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller, are in the team, and according to Butts, they will get support from the experienced Gayle, whose accurate off-spin has served the Windies well in the past.
With Best, who was the most impressive fast bowler in the one-day tournament in Jamaica, named as one of the three reserves, along with Antiguan wicketkeeper Devon Thomas and Barbadian batsman Kirk Edwards, Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul will lead the pace attack.
They will be backed up by the seam bowling of Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Russell.
Prior to the World Cup, the West Indies will return to Sri Lanka to play three ODIs, which had to be rescheduled after the one-day leg of the tour there late last year, was deferred due to torrential rain.
Butts said a vice-captain for the side would be named at a later date.
WORLD CUP SQUAD: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh, Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath.