Nevisian Opener Kieran Powell back in WI squad after two years

Opening batsman Kieran Powell, who last played an international game in June 2014, has been recalled to the West Indies side for the upcoming three-match ODI series against England, which starts from March 3. Powell’s inclusion follows the batsman’s prolific run in West Indies’ domestic List A competition, the Regional Super50, where he emerged as the highest run-getter, scoring three centuries and two fifties.

The squad does not feature left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, wicketkeeper-batsman Johnson Charles and offspinner Sunil Narine, who were part of the team in West Indies’ previous ODI assignment, the tri-series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe.

Alzarri Joseph, who was first picked and later withdrawn from the tri-series, has also found a place in the squad.

If he takes the field on March 3, Kieran Powell will play his first match in the format after nearly three years, having played England in his previous ODI appearance in March 2014. Powell played only one more international match – a Test against New Zealand in June that year – before he was dropped from the squad.

The batsman took a self-imposed break from the game, and in January 2015, issued a statement saying that mixed signals from West Indies cricket authorities had left him “deflated and confused” as he attempted to return to international cricket. This resulted in his decision to step away from the game for some time and in January 2016, he tried his hand at baseball, without much success.

He finally made a return to first-class cricket in March 2016, featuring for Leeward Islands in the Regional 4-day tournament. Between his exclusion from West Indies sides and his return for Leeward Islands, Powell played four first-class matches – for Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club in Sri Lanka’s first-class Premier League Tournament in February-March 2015.

While he played only two matches in last season’s Regional 4-day, he has had a longer run with the team in the 2016-17 domestic season, and has enjoyed better returns. Until December – when the first half of the first-class tournament concluded – Powell had scored 264 runs with two fifties in five matches. In the Regional Super50 competition that followed, his tally of 513 runs from nine matches at an average of 64.12 propelled Leeward into the semi-finals, where they lost to Barbados. At one stage, Powell had five successive fifty-plus scores, raking up 105, 135, 52, 106 and 80.

The squad also does not feature allrounder Marlon Samuels, who was cleared to bowl in international cricket by the ICC last week. Samuels last played an ODI in October last year before being dropped from the squad for the tri-series in Zimbabwe.

The 15-man squad will have a training camp in Antigua this week, with the team’s new coach Stuart Law. The board also announced the WICB President’s XI team,which will play a practice match against England on February 27 in St Kitts.

The first two ODIs will be played in Antigua on March 3 and 5, followed by the final match in Barbados on March 9.


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