The upcoming ICC World Cup ODI tournament which will be played in England will certainly bring anxiety to cricket lovers, as they anticipate the results.
What is the best way for the West indies to bring the joy of success in quite the same way Clive Lloyd and his gang dominated in the late nineties?
Optimism will probably lead the thoughts of the die hard West Indies fans, regardless of the level of performance we’ve seen from this team or the comparisons between the players of two eras.
Having had the opportunity to play with the International Cavaliers in 1969-72, a truly international team sponsored by Rothmans, much was learnt from the very experienced players led by the former England Ted Dexter and The Aussie Skipper Bobby Simpson. Times have changed, however, and the intensity of every department of the game has increased by way of fitness, adequate technicality with the bat, the ball and most definitely, the fielding department.
Today, the difference in every aspect of this format of ODI cricket is as challenging on the field as it is in the lead up to preparation of this type of cricket. So, the results of the past are only degrees of motivation from which our West Indian players were masters of every department of the game. It is on the basis of the current ability of the selected players and how they can adjust from test match attitude to the tactical requirements of the ODI game, into the ball bashing and brilliant fielding, which has not always brought better all-round quality and satisfactory result.
The selection process by modern day ODI assessment is not simple, because the results vary immensely and a competent Test Player may not be as valuable an asset that he is in the test match setting. If you doubt me, then ask the Barbadian opener Kraig Braithwaite.
Now that the team has been selected, maybe there is need to categorise the relevant contribution of each player before assuming what result we can expect.
As I look into assessment of each player in the team, it is relatively easy to recognise the ability of the leadership of Skipper Jason Holder. He has shown much improvement as a captain, having held various positions in the game. Admittedly, there were mistakes which came from a lack of experience and had to produce his better than average batting and bowling.
In the batting department, few would wish to claim that consistency was their asset. However, it would appear that Shai Hope, Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo will have to create stability throughout the tournament. Their task is challenging in the early matches when the English wickets, which perform slightly different and will encourage the swinging ball, a situation which hard wicket batsmen will have to readjust some areas of their game as well as apply the recognition of seam and less speed off the pitches.
The inexperience of Hetmeyer and Pooran will certainly call for guidance from the more experienced players who know the conditions of the pitches at the time of year. Allen the young spinner, a man with full confidence in his ability and probably a great attitude, also needs guidance in his role as an off-spinner, maybe some words from Nurse.
There are many who claim that the bowlers will win the cup for the West Indies. I agree with the prediction, but simply because they will be the ones to keep the total down to less than average.
Will our batsmen produce large scores?
Their inconsistency does not reflect overall success. I wonder whether the selectors had taken the number of injuries, the ages of some veterans and the batting styles which do not allow them to dig in when the going gets tough. Roach, Cotterill, Russell, Gabriel and Thomas will be the ones to dismiss the opposition with some form of regularity. The latter may have to adjust his length which he uses in the Caribbean. Some of the great West Indian bowlers will whisper to him to take his deliveries right up to the batters, this will allow the ball to benefit from assistance to swing in the air, a policy which will reap more success than the short pitched ones.
One key factor in this tournament is the decision when Holder wins the toss. Bear in mind that Gayle and Russell have been suffering from niggling injuries in the recent past. This could mean that batting first will suit the giant left handed opener. It is more challenging for players with injuries if they have to be in the field before taking their turn with the bat. In recent times, Gayle was almost like a “one run” boundary when he is in the field.
Incidentally, had the selectors observed the vast change of Erin Lewis’s batting style when he developed from a beautiful orthodox left handed opener in the conventional game, but deteriorated somewhat when he joined the hit and run brigade, a factor to which I believe he must readjust. Finally, I will take what Carlos Braithwaite can bring to the table. A good athlete whose strength is sometimes good, but short in quality.
I wish that it was easy to say that we shall win the World Cup, but read the script again and share your prediction with us all. Moral support from the Caribbean fans could be a major factor, especially from those who reside in the UK. Now that I have actually witnessed the four matches in the TRI series, my fears have arisen in some departments. For insistence while we cherish the performances of Shai, Hope and Holder, the rest is bothersome. Their starts with the bat allow them to reach in the thirties and concentration is lost. Admittedly, Bangladesh is well prepared and showed more discipline both with the bat and ball, in addition to the competence in the field.
Ireland offered little opposition for the West Indies, and while they were mauled in the first match, they showed improvement in the second encounter when they scored 328 runs as opposed to their previous 185, and also produced a great effort when they fielded.
I wonder whether the selectors are battling with a change of players after these four matches. But, we shall see.