Sarwan’s second wind

Ramnaresh Sarwan – back in favour.

The prodigal son has returned.Almost two years after he last played for the regional side,

Guyanese middle-order batsman and former West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan has been recalled to the West Indies team.And while Sarwan’s international career has been given a lifeline, Barbados Twenty20 captain Dwayne Smith and leading Test fast-bowler Fidel Edwards have been omitted from a 15-man squad to tour Australia for a One-Day International series from month-end.

Sarwan, who returned to regional cricket from a stint on the English County circuit at Leicestershire where he has been appointed captain, has had a torrid time in the ongoing Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament. In four matches he has had scores of 8, 1, 2 and 7. †

Sarwan, whose fitness and preparedness for international cricket have often been his bugbear, performed relatively well during the 2012 season at Leicestershire scoring 294 runs at 36.75 in limited overs matches and 941 at 40.91 in the first-class competition. Sarwan, 32, has played 173 ODIs, with 5 644 runs, four centuries and 38 fifties at an average of 43.41.

His return to the regional team comes after a highly public fall-out with cricket officialdom in the Caribbean. †

Prior to his prolonged hiatus that started in 2011, Sarwan spoke of the low ebb he had reached and the scant support he felt he had received from WICB officials. He claimed to have been hurt “mentally and emotionally” by the regional team’s coaching regime.

“The coach said some negative stuff that hurt me mentally and emotionally,” Sarwan told BBC Sport in May last year.

“Mentally I was broken down, not from the stress of playing, it’s just certain individuals have drained me mentally. It took a toll on my confidence and the way I play. Everything went away.

“I’m away from all those problems, my mind is at ease and I have had nothing to worry about, no coach to say any negative things. At one point I didn’t know which was my back foot and which was my front foot. Now I’m much better, more precise with my movements, everything crystal clear in my head.

“I never spoke about this because I was caught up in a shell and I used to not come out of my house for up to three days. My dad was the one to inspire me to start back playing,” he said at the time.

Last year Sarwan†was a successful litigant against West Indies cricket administrators. He won $161,000 in damages from the WICB after his fitness was publicly denigrated by the board when they dropped him from the list of centrally contracted players in 2010.

On his return to the Caribbean last year Sarwan indicated a change of heart and informed then WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire and chief selector Clyde Butts that he was available to play for the West Indies in all three forms of the game.

With the West Indies middle-order short of senior batsmen since the selectors’ decision to ignore veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul, it is believed Sarwan owes his recall in some measure to the absence of Marlon Samuels. The Stylish Jamaican right-hander sustained a serious facial injury while playing for the Melbourne Renegades in the KFC Big Bash League in Australia and had been ruled him out of selection for the tour.

Smith finds himself on the outside looking in for the umpteenth time in an unfulfilled career that started almost a decade ago with a Test debut century against South Africa. He was part of the ICC Twenty20 Championship-winning regional team but after failing in his first outing, was, as usual, quickly dropped.

Edwards, who has gone from West Indies’ lead pacer to third, fourth and sometimes fifth in the pecking order, is again sidelined by regional selectors. It is a situation reflected in the domestic selection situation where he has long stopped being an automatic choice in Barbados’ fast-bowling firmament.

Johnson Charles, with an unflattering regional and international record, again lands a spot in the line-up, while there is a recall to the shortened forms of the game for Guyanese batting all-rounder Narsingh Deonarine.

Lanky fast-bowler Jason Holder gets his first tour with the senior side after being a late replacement for an injured Tino Best on the tour of Bangladesh.

Holder, whose pace and accuracy have noticeable increased over the past year, has shockingly not found consistent favour with the Barbados selectors over the past two years. Indeed, he has made his mark on the regional side as a result of the opportunities provided to him by the Combined Campuses and Colleges, despite his stated preference to play for Barbados.

Dwayne Bravo, who missed the Bangladesh tour because of injury, returns to the side as vice-captain, duties which were performed by fellow countryman and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. Though selectors have not indicated they have a rotation policy in place, Ramdin again gives way to Leeward Islands’ glovesman Devon Thomas despite the former’s productive batting form over the past six to ten months.

Thomas, though a relatively tidy keeper, has never been productive in front the stumps in West Indies maroon.

The West Indies will arrive in Australia on January 26, and play a warm-up fixture against the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra on January 29. They play five ODIs and one Twenty20 international.

Squad:Darren Sammy (capt), Dwayne Bravo (v-capt), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Thomas †(WG)††

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