Windward Islands captain Darren Sammy is confident of his side’s chances when they take to the field in the upcoming West Indies Cricket Board’s Caribbean T20 Tournament. Speaking after the 14-man squad was unveiled, the 26-year-old allrounder said: “I have a feeling this is the Windwards’ time!”
The selectors picked the squad on Sunday after the weeklong Windward Islands T20 Tournament, which was won by Dominica. The team includes several players with international experience including: openers Andre Fletcher and Devon Smith; pacer Nelon Pascal; off-spinner Shane Shillingford; leg-spinning allrounder Rawl Lewis; and left-arm seamer Deighton Butler, who turns 36 on Wednesday.
“I don’t see why we can’t come out on top. Our strength is in our bowling and overall I would say the selectors have picked a very good allround team. Our batting will rely mainly on the experienced players – such as Smith, Fletcher, Lewis, Liam Sebastien, and myself. Most of the players in the team have the ability to bat and bowl so we have players who can contribute in two departments,” Sammy said from his base in St Lucia.
“We have Shillingford, Sebastien, and Lewis who are very economical bowlers and I know they will do very well for us. We also have a number of players who are coming through, and I’m very satisfied with the squad assembled. I am confident we can go to Barbados, qualify for the final four, and take it from there.”
The Windwards will compete in Zone B alongside Barbados, Guyana and Combined Campuses & Colleges. Zone A includes Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. The Windwards take on Guyana on July 23 at 4 pm at Kensington Oval and return to the same venue two days later to face Barbados at 6 pm. Their final preliminary match will be against CCC at Queen’s Park Oval on July 29 at 8 pm. The semi-finals will be played at Queen’s Park Oval on July 30 with the final and third-placed play-off on July 31 at the same venue.
There is a huge incentive to win the Caribbean T20, with the leading regional team going on to represent the West Indies at the Airtel Champions League in South Africa in September.
“We have seen over the years that teams are closer together in the Twenty20 format. Whoever plays the better cricket on the day will win. Our chances are very good,” Sammy said. “The Champions League is a massive incentive. All the teams will fancy their chances and will be gunning to make it to South Africa in September. We saw what Trinidad and Tobago did for the region in India last year and that should be a form of motivation for all teams – to go out and represent on the world stage. In the Windwards camp we are very excited. We will take it one game at a time and enjoy every moment.”
SQUAD: Darren Sammy (captain), Devon Smith, Andre Fletcher, Rawl Lewis, Liam Sebastien, Johnson Charles, Donwell Hector, Craig Emmanuel, Lindon Lawrence, Keddy Lesporis, Gairy Mathurin, Nelon Pascal, Shane Shillingford, Deighton Butler.