BATSMAN Sunil Ambris, who made his international debut against England earlier this year, has earned a call-up to the West Indies Test squad for the tour of New Zealand, which starts from November 25. Ambris was picked in place of Kyle Hope, the only change to the squad that beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in the Test series in Bulawayo earlier this month.
The WI Test squad reads: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice-captain), Sunil Ambris, DevendraBishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, ShimronHetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, RaymonReifer, and Kemar Roach.
Ambris’ prospects were boosted by consistent performances in the four-dayers against the touring Sri Lanka “A” side. The batsman, who has played only one ODI, scored two hundreds in three first-class games. In both instances, his centuries came when West Indies “A” had lost most of their top order and Ambris was left to bat with the tail. In the series decider, he struck 101 in West Indies A’s first-innings total of 181, after the side were 35 for 5. Overall, he scored 278 runs in five innings — the highest in the series — at an average of 55.60, even as West Indies “A” lost 2-1.
Hope was left out following a lean run since his debut in June 2017. His highest international score after 13 innings was 46, and he couldn’t hit form on the tours of England and Zimbabwe. In three innings in Bulawayo, Hope managed only 60 runs.
Courtney Browne, chairman of Cricket West Indies’ selection panel, urged Hope to turn in strong performances in the ongoing first-class competition to boost his chances of a recall.
“Sunil has replaced Kyle Hope in the squad, and this is on the basis of his consistent performances across formats and his outstanding returns for the Windies “A” Team in the ‘Test’ series against Sri Lanka ‘A’,” Browne said. “This type of consistency is very welcomed by the panel. Kyle is encouraged to return to the first-class championship and turn in the strong performances his talent suggests he can deliver.”
Browne also said that the team’s success in Zimbabwe helped the selectors back continuity in the side.
“It [series win in Zimbabwe] was a strong team effort and highlighted by those players that did not do as well as expected on the recent tour of England, playing critical roles in the team’s success. Their success augurs well for the selection process and the philosophy of continuity, which has underpinned our selection for the tour of New Zealand, and not the chopping and changing mentality.”
West Indies will prepare for the New Zealand tour with a training camp until November 21 in Brisbane. They are scheduled to play a three-day tour match against New Zealand “A” in Lincoln, before the two Tests in Wellington (December 1-5) and Hamilton (December 9-13). The three-match ODI series, which starts from December 20, includes a Boxing Day fixture in Christchurch and will be followed by three T20Is, between December 29 and January 3.
West Indies were earlier scheduled to play three Tests on the tour, but this was revised after New Zealand Cricket looked to get the itinerary in line with the likely schedule of the Test Championship. In August, David White, chairman of NZC, said funding Tests was becoming a challenge. New Zealand are also set to play two Tests against Sri Lanka “A” at home against England, including the first day-night Test in the country, in Auckland.