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Cricket: Andre Russell returns to West Indies squad for SA, Australia, Pakistan series


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Sunil Narine still absent as West Indies gear up for 15 T20Is against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan

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AllrounderĀ Andre RussellĀ is back in the West Indies T20I squad for the first time since March 2020. West Indies' 18-member squad for their upcoming set of T20I series against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan also includes the returning duo of Shimron Hetmyer and Sheldon Cottrell, withĀ Kieron PollardĀ continuing to lead the side following on from the 2-1 home win against Sri Lanka in the format in March.

Sunil Narine, meanwhile, continues to miss out, with Cricket West Indies revealing the spinner informed lead selector Roger Harper he wasn't yet ready to return to international cricket. "If his position changes, then the selectors would consider him for selection," a CWI spokesperson said.

While the West Indies side retains at its core most of the players that helped them triumph in the series against Sri Lanka, there are a handful of changes, especially in the bowling department. Alongside Cottrell, Oshane Thomas and Hayden Walsh Jnr also return, while the 39-year-old fast bowler Fidel Edwards retains his place in the side. Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis remain part of the side, while Nicholas Pooran is vice-captain.

"The provisional T20I squad was put together with all T20I home series matches against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan in mind," Harper said. "This gives us the opportunity to continue to build towards the upcoming World Cup and to determine our best squad and our ideal eleven."

West Indies coach Phil Simmons stressed the importance of the 15 upcoming T20Is, with two T20 World Cups scheduled to take place over the next 18 months. "These upcoming T20Is are crucial in terms of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup. We have assembled a very solid squad with experienced world-class match-winners and some exciting young talented players, ready to explode onto the global stage and do great things for West Indies cricket.

"We are at that point where we have identified those who we will look to be the core of the squad to defend our World Cup title, so we want to make sure the upcoming matches create that environment - the way we train, the way we plan, the way we execute and the chemistry within the group. We won five years ago, so the next few weeks and months will be major steppingstones on the road towards defending our title and being World Champions for a third time."

The series against South Africa begins on June 26 and ends on July 3, with all five games taking place in Grenada. The five T20Is against Australia will take place in St Lucia, while the five matches against Pakistan will be held in Barbados and Guyana.

West Indies T20I squad: Kieron Pollard (capt), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jnr

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