Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Team West Indies, World Cup 2011
GROUP B (Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa, West Indies)
Team -WEST INDIES
ODI Rank - 9
ODI Rating - 66
Last World Cup - Super 8
Finals Appearances - 3
Best in a World Cup- Winner 1975, '79
Darren Sammy (Captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr (wk), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith
Strength - Strong (sometimes unproven) batting
Weakness - Bowling
Once the kings of the game, now the puppets, the West Indian side comes into the tournament as a dark horse, with hopes of winning it being sparkled time and again. West Indian cricket has suffered very bad patches over the past 4 years, since they hosted what was reputed as the worst world cup till date. Players and board had disputes, there were contract issues, and then, some players turned down board contracts, and some even showed more interest in franchise tourneys instead of international fixture. And, not to forget "Sir Allen" Stanford's cameo of bringing in a revolution and leaving the scenes in shame.
West Indies have been trying hard to find the balance in the team, between experience and youth. The WI top order has been depending on Sarwan, and the middle order on Shiv. The captain-for-long, Gayle was always on or off, but one expects him to give you a start more often than not. Also, Brian Lara retired since the 07 WC, and WI have since been looking for a perfect fit to his spot. Can they find anyone more perfect than Darren Bravo? I've been fooled time and again into thinking I was watching Brian Charles Lara while watching the prodigy Darren Bravo bat. And i'm sure his mother is waiting to thrash me for saying so (sorry, lady, just can't help it! He is Lara, and he is worth it!)
So, WI's batting! Right on top, we have a whole new opening pair - Gayle is now to be partnered by Adrian Barath, after other try-outs in the past few years failed (Fletcher? Chattergoon? etc!). Not like Barath has played a lot, but he showed character while playing in Australia. He jsutified his selection to the WC with a century vs SL recently. He can play big, and play hard! Gayle, like we all know is the danger man on top of that order. He is in good "touch" after playing some hurricane knocks for the Warriors in the Big Bash. I would say, he will have atleast 3 or 4 good starts in the league phase itself, and that means rampage!
No.3 and No.4 would be two of Sarwan, Darren Bravo and Shiv. Sarwan made a good comeback statement after missing cricket since his injury more than an year ago while diving to get back into the crease in an epic match vs SA. Darren Bravo has shown enough character to find a berth in the WI team for the past few months. And tere is always the Mr. Dependable, Shiv Chanderpaul. People have been criticising his pace at the pitch, but he has the ability to play long innings and accelerate towards the end. In subcontinental conditions, if you can stay, you have the bowlers at your mercy! Assuming that is what the plan is for spots 3 and 4, Dwayne Bravo will come in at 5, followed by the new captain Darren Sammy and Keiron Pollard - the 3 all-rounders who will be under the radar of all Caribbean fans, expecting atleast two of the three to sparkle in the games. Pollard, though, has been off colour in recent times, but Sammy has taken his spot! Bravo is more of a responsible fellow amongst the three. But, in the slog overs, the only responsibility is - to score!
Carlton Baugh is the keeper for the WI, who won the race against Ramdin, who seems to have disappeared from the international stage.
The bowling, will comprise of the nippy and effective pace bowler Kemar Roach and the left arm orthodox Sulieman Benn for sure. And I would have Ravi Rampaul over Andre Russel for the third spot. Bravo, Sammy, Pollard and Gayle will send down the other overs. WI will surely miss the experience of Jerome Taylor, who is very pacy, as well as good at swinging the ball, and of course, fooling batsmen with his slow ball! The back up spin option is Nikita Miller, whose experience is pretty much restricted to domestic exploits, and nothing much to show at the international level. But he is one of the better spinners in there, ahead of others, Dave Mohammed, for example. Devon Smith is the back-up opening option. One might as well like Shiv to open and accommodate both Sarwan and Darren Bravo in the XI in case one of the regular openers (knock on wood) isn't in a position to open the innings.
WI have not been great in the ODIs for a long time. They have been cleaned up by SA, beaten by Eng and India (all at home) and lost at the hands of the Kiwis and Australia on the road. Now, they are in SL to play with the already decided squad and try to get the players into good touch (weather permitting).
WI, if at all they want to put aside all their troubles off the field of play, they would have to show some character. This is a 50 over tournament, and performing for just 20 overs an innings won't get them anywhere near the 2nd round. They will have to face off against Bangladesh to claim a quarterfinals spot.
One advantage the team will enjoy is, that, they don't have much traveling to do. they play SA and Nederlands at Delhi, play B'desh at Dhaka, Ireland at Mohali (pretty close to Delhi) and move South to play England and India at Madras. Ireland will be their easiest game. And while games against Eng, Ind and SA will be tough, I feel that the only BIG game of the whole first round amongst both groups will be the WI vs B'desh game on the 4th of March at Dhaka. That game can potentially decide who is going through to the knock out stage and who is not!
They have the history behind their backs, but they have a very unknown future ahead of them! They still flow over the brim with class, and have the power to break the knuckles of any attack. They must try their best in prevent run-leaks with their bowling "attack". Fingers crossed, I wish they can go into the 2nd stage, but it all depends on their execution. One-man plays can save them in a game or two, but in the long run, the whole team must chip in!