BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Former Test opener Philo Wallace has urged West Indies tour selectors to hand Chemar Holder his debut in the first Test against England next month, contending the uncapped speedster can shock England and lay the foundation for a series win.
The 49-year-old, who played seven Tests and 33 One-Day Internationals, argued Holder should be made part of a four-pronged pace attack including captain Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, pointing out he was “sharp and ready”.
“I think the exciting thing about this squad is we have fast bowlers. We have fast bowlers – I’m not putting anything else – and to hear the bowling coach (Roddy Estwick) when he speaks about the excitement of these fast bowlers is wonderful,” Wallace said.
“My excitement is going to be Chemar Holder and I hope they don’t keep him in cotton wool. I hope that he starts because he and Alzarri Joseph are the future of our bowling and we need to get them in as quickly as possible.
“They won an Under-19 World Cup together [in 2016] – Chemar went up as a replacement and everybody wanted to know why he wasn’t there from the beginning. He went up in the end and showed his class.
“He’s been an investment in Barbados and West Indies cricket and I think the time is right now to showcase him. He’s sharp and he’s ready, and I think someone like him would shock the Englishmen.
“I know Shannon (Gabriel) is in the reserves and I think that he would be the 15th man.”
Chemar Holder proved outstanding in the recent first class championship, snatching 36 wickets at just under 19 runs apiece for champions Barbados Pride, to emerge as the leading fast bowler in the tournament.
The 22-year-old bowled with pace and aggression in tandem with the likes of Test seamer Kemar Roach and his performances saw him force his way into the 14-man squad for the three-Test series which bowls off in Southampton on July 8.
Wallace said along with the four quicks he would also include off-spinning all-rounders Roston Chase and Rahkeem Cornwall in the final XI for the opening Test – a move designed to also boost the Windies’ batting.
“You’re looking at five batsmen but when you look at those six bowlers, four out of those six bowlers can bat so you’re actually playing nine or 10 batsmen,” Wallace pointed out.
“It’s time Cornwall recognises his ability as a batsman. I know he’s only played a few Test matches but we have to give him the confidence that he can go out there and bat.”
West Indies are wrapping up quarantine at Old Trafford after arriving in England two weeks ago for cricket’s first-ever “bio-secure” series, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following quarantine, they will continue to train in isolation from the public for another two weeks ahead of the first Test. All three Tests are being played behind closed doors to mitigate against the spread of the virus.
Wallace argued that the isolation measures implemented for the series could actually work to the tourists’ advantage.
“I think West Indies can win this series. I think the four weeks they have been quarantined at Old Trafford is going to do them wonderfully well,” explained Wallace.
“Mind you, some of the players – or most of the players have been playing four-day cricket before COVID-19 caused that to stop … but I think that the team will bond.
“We have young men that have played cricket together and we have senior guys who have played together … there’s a good gel, a good mixture and I think the camaraderie will definitely be there.
“So this confinement is really going to help West Indies to really bring that bond and that brotherly love together, and that togetherness quite quickly.”