‘Would have loved to play World Cup’ – Narine
Sunil Narine insists he is still desperate to return to international cricket despite being forced out of West Indies’ World Cup plans.
Narine has not played an ODI since October 2016 – he has not played any international cricket since a T20I in September 2017 – but would have been included in West Indies’ provisional World Cup squad, alongside other notable returnees in Andre Russell and Evin Lewis, had injury not intervened.
While he feels confident of getting through T20 matches – he is currently playing for KKR in the IPL – he feels he “wouldn’t be able to do myself or the team justice” in the longer format.
Narine sustained a torn ligament in his right middle finger some months ago, limiting the amount of certain deliveries he can bowl in a spell.
He has been advised to rest and rehabilitate once his involvement in the IPL ends and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of surgery on the finger in future years.
He also accepts there is no realistic chance of playing Test cricket again; his last first-class game – also his last Test – was in December 2013.
“I would have loved to play in the World Cup,” Narine told ESPNcricinfo. “I have missed international cricket and I’ve missed representing West Indies. It’s where my heart lies.
“But I don’t feel my finger is quite ready for ODI cricket. I can get through a T20 where I bowl just four overs. But even that isn’t easy and I need help from the physio. It’s holding me back from playing international cricket. I wouldn’t be able to do myself or the team justice.”
There is a possibility, however, that Narine could be available for the latter stages of the tournament should he be required as an injury replacement.
“I can’t say for sure at the moment,” he says. “You never want anyone to suffer an injury, but if it did happen and I was able to give West Indies my all, I would love to be part of it.
“But I don’t think it would be right to go into such a big tournament carrying an injury that won’t permit an increased workload and stress on the finger. The performances are fine, but I need to build up the required strength to go from four to 10 overs regularly.”
He is, however, delighted to have been approached by the selectors in what would appear to be another sign of the improved relationship between players and the board since the election of Ricky Skerritt as president of Cricket West Indies.
“I’m really happy that the selectors considered me,” he says. “It shows they have faith in me. I haven’t played international cricket in so long and this shows how much they want me to come back. It was good to have some conversations with them and I feel we’re all on the same page going forward.”
While Narine’s career has been plagued by doubts about the legality of his action – he has been obliged to remodel it on several occasions – he is adamant that is not relevant to his current decision. He has previously employed Carl Crowe, the spin bowling consultant, on a retainer to provide on-going advice and analysis and feels he is now “comfortable and confident” with his action.
“My action is as good and strong as it has ever been,” he says. “It has taken a while to get to the point where I could bowl at full pace with the new action, but I’m comfortable and confident with it now. The pace and the variations are there, I just need to recover from the finger issue, build up strength, and I will be available for West Indies in both T20 and ODI cricket.”
“We’re really happy with where he is at the moment and we have lots planned over the 12 to 18 months to ensure he keeps ahead of the batsmen,” Crowe said. “But we all recognise that moving to 10 overs will be pushing it too far at the moment due to his finger. Sadly, the World Cup is too much, too soon.”
“International cricket is where I want to be,” Narine says. “Once I’m able to give the team my all, I’d like to be back there helping West Indies win games.” (ESPNCricinfo)