Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray has questioned the selection of left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and leg-spinner Yannic Cariah for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

“His involvement in T20 cricket has been non-existent,” Gray said of Cariah on the Mason & Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Trinidadian made his One-Day International debut for the Windies in the recently concluded series against New Zealand in Barbados last month.

“With Cariah, I think the selectors are assessing him on the couple of games he played against New Zealand but those were 50-over games. Where are you going to bat Cariah? He’s a very intelligent player, hard-working. I had him at the Under-19 level and I had to stop him a few times because he would be the one that would over-train and put too much pressure on himself,” added Gray, who represented the region in five Tests and 25 ODIs from 1985-1991.

Cariah has played four T20 matches in his career, the last coming six years ago.

Regarding Cottrell, Gray pointed to his fitness as his main question mark heading into Australia.

“I don’t think Cottrell has been fit enough in recent times to warrant a place on the West Indies team.  When you look at Cottrell in the last 50-over tournament, he was the player of the tournament for the West Indian people. When we look at Cottrell then, he was extremely fit. He was not only brilliant with the ball, but he was also brilliant in the field and took some stunning catches,” Gray said.

“The point I’m trying to make about Cottrell is that if he’s not playing consistently, I’m not sure that he’s going to fare well. We understand that he’s going to be playing on bouncier tracks in Australia and that he has different types of deliveries, but I’ve not seen him enough in recent times to make a determination on his fitness,” he added.

Cottrell has taken 48 wickets in 43 T20 Internationals since his debut in 2014. In the 2022 CPL, he took five wickets in six matches for the St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots.

 

Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray believes the Australia series could be make or break for veteran batsman Chris Gayle, insisting he would give him just another two games to turn things around, if he were on the panel of selectors.

The 41-year-old Gayle has struggled to make a positive impact with the bat since being recalled to the team in February of this year, after two years away from the squad.

The batsman's selection to the preliminary World Cup squad has proven to be a source of controversy with opinion sharply split into two camps.  On one hand, many believe the batsman's ability to change a game within a few deliveries continues to make him an indispensable asset heading into the tournament, others point to his decline in explosiveness and fitness as evidence that the spot should be taken up a younger player.

His performances so far have done little to make a strong case for his inclusion.  In eight matches, against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Australia, Gayle has averaged 12.71, with a combined 89 runs, and has a highest score of 31.  In addition, the batsman has a strike rate of 94.68, well below his career average of 139.71.

Speaking just before the start of the Australia series, Gray suggested the batsman could be running out of time to repay the faith of the selectors.

“I think initially the selectors did a good job of picking this T20 squad.  You have to give Chris Gayle the chance to show he has some kind of form, but if he is getting the opportunity and not firing, I would not pick him,” Gray told the Mason and Guest radio show.

Gayle is the all-time leading runs scorer for the West Indies in T20 international cricket, having scored 1716 in 66 matches.

"I think they need to have a serious word with Chris Gayle in the sense that he is 41 years old now, and obviously they have to have some sort of system where they say to Chris Gayle that 'we're giving you about nine games,'" Gray said.

"If you're not firing for nine games, then the remaining games before the World Cup, we have to give a young player', so that's the sort of system they need with Chris Gayle,” he added.

"If he doesn't fire against Australia for the first two games, I'm not taking him to the World Cup. That would be seven games - against Sri Lanka and South Africa - and the next two games would be nine games, he had an opportunity to fire.”

Gayle made just 4 runs in the opening match against Australia on Friday.

 

 

Former West Indies fast bowler, Tony Gray, believes it is a mistake for selectors to get caught up with selecting teams based on conditions.

Recently, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors Roger Harper set off a firestorm with an explanation that promising fast bowler Chemar Holder had been left out of the Test squad for the Bangladesh tour, in order to include an extra spinner to exploit conditions.

For some, the decision was all the more vexing considering the absence of Jason Holder, who was typically part and parcel of a four-prong pace bowling attack, and Chemar Holder’s promising debut in New Zealand where he took two wickets in trying circumstances.

For his part, in addition to pointing out that Bangladesh were exceptional at handling spin, Gray pointed to the fact that a multitude of pace bowlers had done well on Asian pitches for several decades.

“I think that they (selectors) are fixated on the conditions, you cannot be fixated on the conditions,” Gray told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I played my first Test series in Pakistan and I got 14 wickets in three games.  You want the mindset to be there.  If you are telling a young fast bowler, for example, who can bowl some 90 miles an hour deliveries, that you are not going to perform well because of bowling conditions that are not really suited to your pace and your style of bowling, then you are doing the wrong thing,” he added.

“So, I think they have been fixated on conditions and there are other things to take note of for example the strengths of the opposition, the Bangladeshis are very adept at playing spin bowling.”

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