West Indies - Operating in Self-Destruct Mode
West Indies sent a ripple across the cricketing world when Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, probably two of the three most feared West Indian batsmen around the world, were omitted from the World Cup squad. Although cricketing reasons were given, there is daylight between the glaring omissions of the stalwarts and their performances. Most people know, it has got something to do with the infamous abandonment by the West Indian team, midway of their One-Day International series against India, owing to payment issues with their board.
West Indies come to the World Cup with no pretenses. They have a 24-year-old Jason Holder at the helm, surprisingly, a fast bowler who doesn’t command his own place in the side. His short stint with the Chennai Super Kings aside, the world hasn’t heard much about him. Kemar Roach and Darren Bravo are back from injury breaks and Chris Gayle, in whatever the world has seen of him, in recent times, looks woefully out of form.
It looked a familiar story when the team was pummeled by England in their first warm-up game, a match West Indians would want to forget in a hurry. It would be a folly to think West Indies would naturally progress to the quarter finals. They have a tough Associate team in Ireland to compete with, not to mention Zimbabwe which looked really impressive in their washed-out warm-up game against New Zealand.
On their day, the West Indies is still a mercurial team, with a platter of powerful hitters, including Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, two men instrumental in the Windies’ T20 World Cup victory in 2012. They have a genuine fast bowler in Kemar Roach and Dwayne Smith has done his reputation no harm in his most recent stint at the top of the order playing for Chennai Super Kings.
West Indies also have two good all-rounders in Darren Sammy and Andre Russell, both proven match-winners with the bat. However, if West Indies were to do anything better than what they have achieved since 1996, they need more than just a spark. Whether the team has it in them to shut out all the controversies and play consistent cricket, remains to be seen.
Previous Tournament Performances:
West Indies is only one of three teams to have won the World Cup more than once. However, the three-time finalists haven’t reached the finals of the World Cup since 1983, when they were vanquished by underdogs India. They threw away a genuine opportunity in 1996, choking under pressure in a low scoring semi-final against Australia. They lost to Pakistan in the quarter finals of 2011 World Cup in a humiliating one-sided match.
16th February – Ireland v West Indies in Nelson
21st February – Pakistan v West Indies in Christchurch
24th February – West Indies v Zimbabwe in Canberra
27th February – South Africa v West Indies in Sydney
6th March – India v West Indies in Perth
15th March – United Arab Emirates v West Indies in Napier
Recent Form (last 10 ODIs):
(recent) L, W, L, L, L, N/R, L, N/R, L, W
West Indies have a W/L ratio of 1.520 having won 38 World Cup games and lost 25.
Chris Gayle is the only West Indies batsman in the current squad to feature in top 50 leading run-scorer in World Cup history.
The highest score for West Indies in World Cups, came way back in 1987 (360 against Sri Lanka) while the lowest score of 93 came in 1996 against Kenya.
Players to Watch Out For:
Andre Russell has shown that he has the temperament for big moments. Capable of picking wickets and scoring runs at critical junctures, Russell has underachieved so far, in spite of oodles of talent. At the big stage, he might still shine and that would bode well for a West Indian team desperately looking for big match players.
Marlon Samuels is probably West Indies’ most reliable player and at his best, very destructive. However, the West Indian vice-captain bats in two completely opposite gears. Shifting between block and attack modes are a problem for Samuels, whose contribution is vital for the team’s chances.
Dwayne Smith opening the innings could be a good partner for Gayle, blazing away to give the big left-hander some breathing space to get his eye in. His form was impressive at the top too, while opening for Chennai Super Kings and if he could bring any of that to the big stage, he will be a batsman to watch out for, especially on fast, bouncy wickets.
West Indies are slated to finish fourth in their pool, which will pit them against Australia. They could hope to catch the table toppers from the other pool on the wrong foot, like they did against South Africa in the 1996 World Cup. However, making it to the quarter finals will be their first challenge and they will do well to focus on that.
© Cricket World 2015