BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – West Indies selectors have dropped batsman Daren Ganga but have rewarded spinners Sulieman Benn and Amit Jaggernauth with places in the Windies 15-man squad for the opening Test against Sri Lanka starting on 22 March in Guyana.
The squad, which will head to Guyana next week following the sixth series of Carib Beer Series matches this weekend, also sees the recall of Barbadian all-rounder Ryan Hinds after a three-year break.
Fellow Barbadian left-arm swing bowler Pedro Collins has also been recalled while selectors have kept faith with left-handed opener Devon Smith.
Ganga, 29, who led West Indies in Tests as recent as the tour of England last summer, had a miserable tour of South Africa where he managed just 117 runs in six Test innings, in the series West Indies lost 2-1.
Since his return to the Caribbean, the right-hander has failed to gather any big scores to put selectors under pressure to retain his place.
He carved out a half-century against Jamaica in Trinidad & Tobago’s fourth round Carib Beer Series match last week but after moderate scores against the Windwards at the weekend, has only 180 runs from four innings.
Benn, 26, meanwhile, has been rewarded for a season where he has taken 22 wickets with his left-arm spin.
Tall and penetrative, Benn had been overlooked by the selectors in the past despite an impressive record at regional level. He has, however, had a history of disciplinary problems and was fined by the West Indies Cricket Board for breaching the code of conduct on the West Indies A-team tour of England in 2002.
Jaggernauth, 24, has been a prolific wicket-taker in recent seasons with his off-spin. He was the leading bowler in the Carib Beer Series last year with 30 wickets and has taken 23 scalps so far this season at an average of 16.26.
Hinds, who has played nine Tests since making his debut in 2002, has not played for the West Indies since 2005 despite scoring prolifically in the regional four-day tournament.
The 27-year old, whose career seemed in danger last year when he sat out the KFC Cup after being removed as Barbados captain, has enjoyed another good season having already scored 327 runs.
Grenadian Smith, who had a wretched One-Day International tour of South Africa, smashed 161 against Combined Campuses & Colleges in St Lucia last week in his return to the four-day competition for the Windward Islands, enhancing his claim for a recall.
Jamaican batsman Marlon Samuels has also been included in the squad despite facing disciplinary action after being charged by the Board for misconduct, relating to last year’s bookie scandal.
SQUAD: Christopher Gayle (Captain), Dwayne Bravo, Sulieman Benn, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Pedro Collins, Fidel Edwards, Ryan Hinds, Amit Jaggernauth, Darren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.
Newcomer Benn Photo: WICB