What makes West Indies so good at power hitting?
Cricket in the West Indies has long been associated with big hitting and flamboyant playing styles.
Earlier this year, West Indies became the first team to win the ICC World Twenty20 title for the second time and their big hitters certainly had a role to play in that triumph. So, what makes the West Indian cricketers so good at power hitting? Is it their sheer strength or is there more to it?
Speaking to Gillette World Sport, the West Indies coaching staff and the players give us an insight.
According to the West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, raw strength and talent have a huge role to play when it comes to sending the ball over the fence consistently.
"We are the ones people look at to do the big hitting," Simmons said.
"Now you have big hitters all over the world, but we are consistently producing young players who can do it more and more.
"It takes raw strength and raw talent to hit the ball hard. It must be something to do with the physiology.
"In the Caribbean, they come to see the ball go over the fence, they come to see people bowl quick and it is great to see that.
"It suits the way we like to play cricket. It’s about hitting the balls; it’s about scoring the runs."
Man of the match both the World T20 victories for West Indies, Marlon Samuels, feels that there are players in the squad who rely on brute force while there are some who rely on just timing.
Samuels also reasoned that it is the ability of all the XI members of the West Indies team to strike the ball hard which sets them apart from the rest.
"A lot of people like to watch our cricket and our style. We bring flair; we bring fun.
"If you look at the history of our great players, we love to play shots.
"I guess most of us, we are big and strong. We have good eyesight and good hand-eye coordination.
"It is different for some players. For some players, it is sheer power. For some, there is power with a little bit of finesse.
"There are players that can hit the ball the same distance with just timing. It is just the team, from one to XI, we can hit the ball over the boundary."
Furthermore, Samuels feels that in the World T20, there was a different player stepping up in each game and winning the game for the team, which according to him was a highlight in the tournament.
"I could sit there and watch it all over again and over and over.
"It was the first team to win it (the World T20) twice.
"The tournament was not about any one player.
"At each game, a different player stepped up to the game and get the man of the match and do something special.
"So, that to me was the highlight of the tournament.
"International cricket is very difficult for you to be around for a very long time.
"You make a century yesterday, it goes into the books and it is history.
"You come out today, people expect you to do well every game. They just want you to be consistent.
"So, once you are consistent… it is a runaway train sometimes so it is something good to watch."
Ronald Rogers, the West Indies' strength and conditioning coach, added that although the players are naturally gifted with physical abilities, it takes a bit of work to get them to understand that they need to train hard in order to compete in the international arena.
"They are so naturally talented, naturally gifted and naturally strong," he said.
"Physiologically, they are good humans. There is a tendency to take that for granted.
"It requires a lot more education to get them to understand that you didn’t even have to lift a weight to get where you are but now that we are competing against the international arena, so you want them to get better movement.
"You want them to understand how to hinge properly, how to lunge properly, how to push, pull, squat, get up and lie down.
"So that takes a bit of patterning, grinding and getting them to understand that you need to really work."
Rogers’ views are echoed by the hard-hitting batsman Andre Fletcher, who feels that proper training is essential to pull off the big hits, the players from the Caribbean are renowned for.
"Most people say that the food we eat causes us to have that strength.
"Confidence has a big part to play.
"We always go out there every day and train hard.
"Not only are we naturally big, we still got to put in some extra work. We must have strong legs in order to have a firm base.
"The core has a part to play with it and then your biceps, triceps, and shoulders."
Furthermore, Fletcher admitted that technique is also as important as strength and to drive his point home, he cited the way a golfer uses the proper technique while hitting a golf ball.
"Even though we back our strength, it has a lot to play also with technique.
"We have seen the golf swing. If you look at a golfer, you will actually realise that everything lines up before he hits the golf ball.
"So we tend to take that and put a piece of it into our cricket.
"We try and see if we can hit as many sixes as possible on a consistent basis, so when the game comes, it actually comes naturally and not a case where we are fighting to hit sixes.
"We do the hard work and then it comes easy."
For Fletcher, it was the big hitters in the West Indies line-up, who won them their second World T20 title by beating England in the final of the 2016 edition of the tournament.
"I don’t think there will be another final like that ever.
"We needed, in the last over, 19 runs in six balls.
"I guess everyone was expecting us to lose.
"If it wasn’t for our big hitters, we would have lost the game."
West Indies are currently in action in the ongoing tri-series involving Australia and South Africa.
After the hard-fought first two rounds of the tri-series, South Africa, Australia and West Indies all have two wins each heading into the final round of games which will be played in Barbados.
Video Credit: Gillette World Sport
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