Marlon Samuels, Dwayene Smith back to WI squad

Published: Friday, October 7, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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St Johnes, Antigua:Still influenced more by all-round potential than actual performance, the West Indies cricket selectors included Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith in the 15-member squad for three-Test tour of Australia from October 27 to November 29.

Samuels, 24, and Smith, 22, both had exciting debuts when first brought into the Test team but their careers have since had as many stops and starts as a maxi-taxi at rush-hour.

Their selections are likely to have been advanced most strongly by head coach Bennett King. It is a clear challenge for him and his staff to mould their precocious talent into the finished product, just as Duncan Fletcher and his men have done with Andrew Flintoff, a kindred spirit on England team.

Their native Australia is ideal starting point. Eight of those who withdrew from team to Sri Lanka in July and August due to long-running dispute over tour contracts, have predictably returned following compromise agreement between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA).

Brian Lara, Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Wavell Hinds, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards and Corey Collymore bring experience and, in Laras case, extraordinary class to a team left emaciated by their controversial absence in Sri Lanka.

Lara, at 36, is on his fourth tour of Australia, Shivnarine Chanderpaul on his third. Both as batsmen with outstanding records and as leaders, they carry heavy responsibility in a series against opponents keen to reassert their dominance after loss of Ashes in England in the summer.

Runs from both and more consistency from Sarwan, lone right-hander in top six, Gayle, Wavell Hinds and Devon Smith is another key factor to being competitive.

Constrained by absence of reputable spinners, selectors stuck to established policy of attack of five fast bowlers supplemented by bustling medium-pace of two Dwaynes, Bravo and Smith, and stopgap off-spin of Samuels and Gayle.

Jermaine Lawson, his questionable action now cleared by the ICC, is the fastest of speed men. Providing he overcomes recent heel operation, he should be a handful for Australian batsmen, as he was last time they met (7-78 in Antigua in 2003).

Tino Best and Daren Powell gave him telling support in Sri Lanka, Edwards and Collymore are back to challenge for Test places.

The injury that eliminated Pedro Collins left-arm swing is a setback and would have brought two other left-handers, Ian Bradshaw and Deighton Butler, into consideration.

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