West Indies’ starting XI expected to feature familiar faces

West Indies Test tour in England…

– Bonner, Reifer, Chemar facing uphill task

By Brandon Corlette

Given the nature of the pitch and other relevant circumstances on that given day or during the build-up to that first Test match on July 8, the starting XI of the West Indies team will be announced.

Nkumrah Bonner

From the first of the two intra-squad practice matches between Jason Holder’s XI and Kraigg Brathwaite’s XI, the composition of the teams provided an insight to what the final XI of that first Test would look like.
Holder’s XI featured the four top fast bowlers who have been the talk of the town in recent times. Along with Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph featured on the same side during the first practice match while in Brathwaite’s XI, the first-choice batting options featured. Despite some strong performances from some of the reserve players, the starting XI for the first Test match is expected to feature familiar faces.

Chemar Holder

However, this “familiar face” formula may be subject to change given that there have been health issues and injuries during the build-up. The returning Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner and Raymon Reifer may encounter difficulty in breaking into the final XI if the familiar faces are fit and ready to go. Reifer, however, has announced himself with a five-wicket haul while Shayne Mosely has reminded John Campbell that he was knocking on the door for a selection in that opening slot.

Jermaine Blackwood

If conditions favour the faster men, the West Indies starting XI for the July 8 match will feature: Kraigg Brathwaite; John Campbell; Shamarh Brooks; Shai Hope; Roston Chase; Jermaine Blackwood; Shane Dowrich (wicketkeeper); Jason Holder (Captain);

Rahkeem Cornwall

Kemar Roach Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel. Given the track is subject to spin, Rahkeem Cornwall may replace a batsman, most likely Blackwood. Reifer, who made a claim for himself with the five-wicket haul, may play as a like-for-like replacement if Holder’s ankle troubles factor in the build-up to that opening Test.

While Gabriel is in the reserves, if fully fit, he will slot into the official squad and may break into the starting XI. The final practice match, which is set to commence today and

Raymon Reifer

will span four days, will inform these final decisions.
Blackwood, who scored the most runs in the Regional Four-Day tournament, failed to make an impact in the first practice game, scoring 3 and 15. Bonner made 5 and 24* in the first practice match. Chemar Holder, who is pipped to form the backbone of the future West Indies bowling attack, will also have an uphill task to play ahead of Roach, Gabriel, Joseph and Holder.
Only time will tell who makes the cut for that final West Indies starting XI for the first Test match come July 8.