Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, has said he has 14 fit men available for selection for the four-day tour match against the England Lions, starting on Thursday.
Marlon Samuels flew in from India, where he was playing in the IPL, on Tuesday and Assad Fudadin, who was delayed due to visa issues, joined the squad on Wednesday morning. According to a West Indies spokesperson, Narsingh Deonarine, the only missing member from the 15-man Test squad, was due to arrive on Thursday, but would not be available for selection in the Lions match.
Sammy welcomed the new arrivals and said it would bolster the confidence of the team ahead of the Lord's Test, starting on May 17. Sammy was happy to have virtually a full squad to pick from. "I'm quite pleased to see Marlon and Fudadin this morning. It is very good for us," he said. "We welcome them and it's good for them they are here to practise with us today. The whole family is united and now we are preparing ourselves for the first Test match."
It is understood the visa delay in the case of the Guyanese pair of Deonarine and Fudadin was inevitable. The West Indies selectors had waited for the home series against Australia to finish before announcing the Test squad for the England tour at the end of April. Once named, Deonarine and Fudadin then had to apply to the UK embassy for visas because nationals from Guyana and Jamaica do not get a free entry, unlike the other Caribbean countries. A further delay may have been caused by the UK Border Agency tightening its visa screening process.
But Sammy did not want to gripe about something not in his control, saying the team would move forward. "We were aware once we were leaving the Caribbean that Narsingh and Fudadin were trying to sort it out," he said, "and Marlon was with Pune Warriors in the IPL. You just move on with things and handle distractions."
Sammy said all his players, including Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Fidel Edwards, who had been reported as fitness doubts, were available for selection. "We will come up with the best eleven in these conditions to prepare ourselves for the Test match," Sammy said, adding with a smile that team manager, Richie Richardson, would not be needed to handle 12th man duties.
The visitors have not had much too much else to smile about in the last week, due to the cold and rainy weather prevalent across England. In their first tour match, against Sussex at Hove, only 34 overs were possible across three days. The forecast for the Lions match is not encouraging either.
Sammy said it was frustrating, having been forced to stay indoors last week and now resorting to indoor nets in Northampton. But Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, has been keeping the players busy by asking them to go through video footages and involving them in various team and one-on-one meetings. Such exercises, Sammy said, allowed the players to bond together. "It is disappointing because our main goal here is to play cricket, get out in the middle. But we have no control over the weather," he said. "We are just moving along."