Windies name under-probe Samuels in WC squad

Published: Friday, February 16, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bridgetown:The West Indies have named Marlon Samuels in the 15-man squad for the World Cup they will host next month despite an ongoing probe of his links with an alleged bookmaker.

And selectors also sprung one surprise with the inclusion of Kieron Pollard, the 19-year-old Trinidad allrounder beating off more experienced names for the final place.

Much of the squad had been set in stone, but Pollard has kept out the likes of Darren Sammy and Runako Morton, while Rayad Emrit who played in the recent series against India didn't even make the reserve list.

Pollard, who made his debut in the West Indies' domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions this year, has captured the imagination of fans in the Caribbean with his big-hitting for his native Trinidad and Tobago.

"We've had a good look at Kieron Pollard over the last few matches in the Carib Series and the KFC Cup," said Gordon Greenidge, the former master batsman now the convener of the West Indies selectors.

"He impressed us all. Throughout the Caribbean, a lot of praise has been heaped on this young man. Also being an unknown quantity - he is not known to the outside world who will be coming to compete in this World Cup.

"From what we've seen, we feel that he will add value to the team. His contribution in regional tournaments so far has been very good."

Pollard first gave notice of his emerging status when he crashed 83 off 38 balls against Nevis to put Trinidad and Tobago into the final of the inaugural Stanford Twenty20 Cup in Antigua.

He distinguished himself with a century on his first-class debut against league champions Barbados in the opening match of the season, and followed up with another hundred against the Leeward Islands.

The rest of the squad was predictable, with Ramnaresh Sarwan, who recovered from a foot injury only to damage a thumb in a domestic match last week, also named in the squad and retaining the position of vice-captain to Brian Lara.

Lendl Simmons has taken the final batting slot while Ian Bradshaw, Daren Powell, Corey Collymore and Jerome Taylor are the four pacemen, leaving Fidel Edwards on the sidelines.

Samuels' inclusion in the squad came as no real shock despite being accused by Indian police of having passed on team information to a man suspected of being a bookie, Mukesh Kochar, during last month's one-day series in India.

But police said there was no evidence money had changed hands and it had only brought it to the notice of cricket authorities because it was a violation of the ICC's code of conduct, which bars players from dealing with bookmakers.

Samuels has admitted he has known Kochar for the past six years but did not believe he was a bookmaker. The Dubai-based Kochar told the Indian media he was not a bookie and that Samuels was like "a son" to him.

West Indies open the World Cup against Pakistan, in Jamaica, on March 13, with other pool games against Zimbabwe on March 19 and Ireland four days later.

The Squad:

Brian Lara (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ian Bradshaw, Corey Collymore, Jerome Taylor, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Devon Smith, Lendl Simmons, Daren Powell and Kieron Pollard. Coach K Bennett.


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