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By Neto Baptiste

Iconic West Indies fast bowler and one of four knighted former cricketers here, Sir Andy Roberts, believes more youthful players should be targeted for Cricket West Indies (CWI) contracts.

His comments follow a recent release by CWI revealing the body’s list of contracted players across all three formats of the game for 2021 and 2022.

“All these 30-plus players we are giving contracts should be given to 19-year-olds, 22-year-olds and these are the ones we should be looking forward to keeping under our wings and develop them, that’s what we need to do. I just cannot understand how two or three young fast bowlers or two or three young spinners didn’t get contracts for the longer version,” he said.

In early May, a total of 18 players were offered contracts for the 2021-22 season which runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

For the first time Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Akeal Hosein and Kyle Mayers have been awarded International retainer contracts, whilst newly appointed Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo receive International contracts for red ball and white ball cricket respectively.

Sir Andy was highly critical of the practice of issuing separate agreements for varying formats of the game.

“I don’t think a right arm bowler bowls left arm in one day cricket and bowls right arm in Test. We need to look at our best players and give them contracts so that they can play in all formats of the game and that is our biggest problems now, we are choosing what we think somebody should play and I want this to be West Indies’ motto that we are choosing our best players to play cricket. Name the best three batsmen in the world and tell me if they all don’t play all three formats of the game,” he said.

The former player, who claimed 202 wickets in 47 Tests with 11 five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls, noted that not enough young and promising fast bowlers have been included in the current set-up.

“Giving a player a contract for international cricket based purely upon their performance in our regional cricket doesn’t shed much light on the [quality] of players that we have. Going forward, I would look at the youthfulness of the players that we have because when you look at what has propelled West Indies to the top of international cricket in 20 or 25 years, which is bowling, how many young fast bowlers have been given contracts? How many bowlers of note have been given contracts that you could say this is somebody I think will be representing West Indies five years down the road?” Sir Andy said. 

Meanwhile, some big names, including Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Shimron Hetmyer, Shane Dowrich and Shamarh Brooks, were all overlooked by CWI for retainer contracts.