Continuity with incumbent spinners keeps Permaul out– West Indies Head Coach
By Akeem Greene
West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons, who is part of the three-man selection panel led by Roger Harper and includes Miles Bascombe, has responded to why left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul was not included in the provisional 17-man squad for the upcoming two-Test match series against Pakistan in Jamaica.
In the past, Harper has been pellucid that they are seeking to select “in-form players” and these ‘Best v Best’ Four-Day matches will be key criteria in selection since the First-Class is on hold since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His utterances have been true; ahead of the South Africa Tests, Kieran Powell earned his Test recall with scores of 22 and 95 in the ‘Best v Best’ game in St. Lucia. Roston Chase was another who impressed in these trial matches and made a return to the team.
Ahead of this Pakistan series, which starts on Thursday at Sabina Park, batsman Shamarh Brooks, who has not featured in a Test since the tour to New Zealand in December 2020, made 0 and 134 and was included in the provisional man squad.
Permaul, who was sidelined from the Test group until his selection for the Bangladesh tour in February, where he did not play, took seven wickets in this recent ‘Best v Best’ match.
In the first innings, he had 5-38 from 17 overs, bowling against most of the Test specialists, and in the second 2-69 from 22 overs.
Barbadian left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was wicketless in his 24 overs, which went for 59, but he was included in the 17-man squad.
It is understood his inclusion is on the basis, that in his last Test series against Bangladesh he took 14 wickets in the two Tests.
He was not in either of the two Tests against South Africa, with off-spinners Rahkeem Cornwall and Chase doing the duties.
“Best v Best matches is for us to ensure players get enough preparation, but also to see what players are doing during these games,” the Head Coach stated on Monday at a Virtual media briefing.
“You used Permaul as an example; we played the last Test match, we played one spinner, we have two spinners on the bench. Yes, he [Permaul] has come and bowled well in the first innings and got wickets, but for us, we see it that we needed to continue with the spinners that we had on the 14 or 15 we had for the last series,” Simmons further elaborated.
He added, “Sometimes we look at it and say someone has done well in the game, yes, understood, but sometimes we look at it and say this is the best possible squad we can select right now for the game.”
The root of Permaul’s continued omission goes back a bit further. The 31-year-old, who has the best aggregate for a spinner in the Professional Cricket League, was omitted from the 30-man touring squad to England in July 2020.
That squad was selected after the Regional Four-Day seasoned abruptly ended in March due to the pandemic where Permaul was the leading wicket-taker with 50 scalps in 15 innings, while Warrican, who was the reserve spinner, had 13 wickets in ten innings.
Since then, with Warrrican being part of the West Indies training groups, and with no First-Class cricket being played, only the ‘Best v Best’, the panel has persisted with Warrican to the detriment of Permaul.