ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
Chief selector Courtney Browne believes Vishal Singh can provide added stability in the West Indies middle order during the upcoming Test series against Pakistan. The 28-year-old left-hander was one of two uncapped players named in the 13-man squad to face Pakistan in the opening Test bowling off at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Friday.
Vishal endured an underwhelming first-class season, but carved out an unbeaten 135 in the three-day tour match against the Pakistanis at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium last weekend to force his way into contention.
“Vishal has been one of the more consistent batsmen in the regional four-day tournament over the last few seasons and had a very good A-Team series against Sri Lanka last year,” Browne pointed out.
“His hundred over the weekend for the WICB President’s XI against the Pakistanis helped to fortify in our minds that he has a place in our squad. He gives us the option of a solid middle-order batsman around whom our more free-scoring players can bat.”
Vishal managed over 700 runs last season and followed up with a superb 161 for West Indies A against Sri Lanka A in Pallekele last October. However, his returns this season have been poor, with just 317 runs at an average of 26.
Middle Order Stability
Ever since selectors axed the long-serving Shiv Chanderpaul two years ago, they have been without a steady hand in the middle order, and with Marlon Samuels dropped and Dwayne Bravo’s continued exile from the squad, Vishal is being viewed as a solution to the middle order.
His Guyana Jaguars teammate Shimron Hetmyer has also found space in the squad following a season that yielded 496 runs, and Browne said the Youth World Cup captain was one for the future.
“Shimron has shown a lot of maturity during this season of regional games and also within our A team,” Browne explained.
“It is really satisfying to see someone that only a year ago was leading our Under-19 squad to the ICC Youth World Cup title progress so quickly to be considered for a place in the squad.
“We want to wish the young man well and hope that he, like all the others, can grasp the opportunity when it presents itself.”