ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Selectors have called up the veteran pair of Nikita Miller and Rayad Emrit for the limited overs tour of New Zealand later this month, in a surprise move that has handed both players new leases on their international careers.
The 35-year-old Miller was on Tuesday named in a 15-man squad for three-match One-Day International series while Emrit, 36, was included in a 14-man unit for the three-match Twenty20 series.
Left-arm spinner Miller has taken an astonishing 23 wickets for Jamaica Scorpions in his only two games of the ongoing Regional first class season, after missing the first three fixtures while recuperating from surgery.
He topped the bowling charts last season with 58 scalps but picked up just nine at just over 3-1/2 runs an over in the Regional Super50 earlier this year.
Jamaican Miller played the last of his 46 ODIs during the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but chief selector Courtney Browne said his experience would prove valuable especially as West Indies geared up for the all-important 2019 World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe next year.
“Miller has played ODI cricket previously. Along with his vast experience in our domestic competitions, we felt that he is the right fit to form a part of our ODI bowling unit at this time,” Browne said.
“With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching, we felt that this is not the right time to introduce an inexperienced slow bowler.”
Emrit, meanwhile, has not tasted international cricket since he payed a pair of ODIs 10 years ago in India, but has reinvented himself as dependable lower order batsman and steady seamer in the T20 version of the game.
He was outstanding for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League this year year, snatching 15 wickets at seven runs per over to follow up on his haul of 16 scalps the previous year.
Browne said the Trinidadian had been rewarded for his consistency and would be an asset to the T20 squad.
“The selection of Emrit is to fill one of the all-rounder roles. He has always been on the fringes of selection and now gets his opportunity,” Browne explained.
“He is a whole-hearted player, and has been a consistent performer in our domestic competitions and so the opportunity has now presented itself for him to join our T20I squad.”
Emrit is one of three changes to the T20 squad with leg-spinner Samuel Badree available after missing the one-off game against England last September and Andre Fletcher coming in for Evin Lewis who is unavailable due to personal reasons.
Miller’s inclusion is also one of three changes to the one-day side with Test speedster Shannon Gabriel and uncapped pacer Ronsford Beaton also called up.
Of the side that toured England last September, pacers Jerome Taylor and Miguel Cummins, along with leg-spinner Devenra Bishoo, have been dropped.
Browne said the one-day series would be a critical one for the Windies, as the only international series before the World Cup qualifiers.
“This series against New Zealand and our CWI Regional Super50 Cup next year are the only chances we will have for preparation prior to the World Cup qualifiers, which are scheduled to be played next March in Zimbabwe,” he noted.
“So these matches will be used to help us identify the players that will play during the qualifiers, and this is why we have also taken the opportunity to introduce Ronsford Beaton.
“Though he is more known for his pace and variations in T20I cricket, we believe he can add value within our ODI bowling unit.”
West Indies face New Zealand in three ODIs and three T20Is from December 20 to January 3.
ODI – Jason Holder (captain), Jason Mohammed (vice-captain), Sunil Ambris, Ronsford Beaton, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Nikita Miller, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Kesrick Williams
T20I – Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Rayad Emrit, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.