06 February 2015
WEST INDIES ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2015 TOURNAMENT PREVIEW & GUIDE
A heady cocktail of raw power and flamboyance makes West Indies a dangerous side in Pool B
The current squad may be very different to the teams of the 70s and 80s, but with a good mix of youth and experience, West Indies will be a handy proposition in the shorter format
The current squad may be very different to the teams of the 70s and 80s, but with a good mix of youth and experience, West Indies will be a handy proposition in the shorter formats, the win at the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Sri Lanka being a prime example. Led by Jason Holder and coached by Stuart Williams, the former opener, the side will have to rely on its power-packed batting to negate the lack of experience in the bowling department.
“I don't think I have had a World Cup where South Africa have not been favourites and this time it's no different. But in a World Cup if you play three good matches in the first round, you are into the knockout stages and with that, cricket is played on the day and anything is possible.”
The side emerged champions in 1975 and 1979 under the leadership of Clive Lloyd. A hat-trick of wins, however, was not to be as West Indies lost the 1983 final to India at Lord's. Since then, the side has been on a decline. The best finish since 1983 came in 1996 when it lost to Australia after dominating most parts of the semi-final clash in Mohali. In 2011, it lost to Pakistan in the quarter-final, while its fate four years prior to that, at home, was sealed in the Super Eights.
Pool: West Indies is in Pool B, alongside India, South Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe
Captain: Jason Holder
Coach: Stuart Williams
The quest to move past the final eight and possibly beyond, something the side hasn't been able to achieve for a long time now, will drive West Indies.
The side has some much-needed experience at the top in the form of the big-hitting Chris Gayle, who will be playing in his fourth World Cup. Marlon Samuels adds muscle to the middle order, but the side will need the younger players to punch above their weights to shore up the batting and bowling departments.
The pacers are talented and would find the pitches in Australia and New Zealand conducive to their style of bowling, but lack of experience will make bowling at the death a difficult proposition against quality batting line-ups. Sulieman Benn, the left-arm spinner, leads the spin department, while Nikita Miller, another left-arm spinner, who was part of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup squad, was drafted in once Sunil Narine withdrew from the tournament.
If the batting arsenal that West Indies possesses fires, the team could well have a great time. While Gayle and Dwayne Smith are more than capable of giving the team flying starts, the likes of Samuels and Darren Bravo will have to be the pillars of the middle order.
The fact that they bat deep, with Darren Sammy usually coming in as late as No. 8, means bowling units can't afford to relax. No doubt then that batting is going to be its mainstay in the tournament and it would be crucial for the batsmen fire in unison if West Indies want to make it far in the tournament. The West Indies will also be looking for their pace unit to fire with the trio of Andre Russell, Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor all capable of mixing it with the quickest in the tournament.
Patchy would perhaps best describe the manner in which West Indies has gone about in ODIs in recent times. The tour of South Africa was an eye-opener. An inexperienced attack came under the wheels of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis. West Indies lost the series 1-4, but there were sparks of positivity and excitement in the three Twenty20 Internationals that preceded the ODIs, where West Indies won 2-1. Prior to that, the side managed to win one of the four ODIs in India in October.
West Indies' reliance on Gayle is fuelled by the absence of explosive firepower in the middle as Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard have been left out. Niggling fitness concerns have forced Gayle out of action for good lengths of time in recent times. But Gayle demonstrated his prowess yet again in January when he made a 41-ball 90 against South Africa in a T20 International in Johannesburg.
A thorough entertainer, West Indies depends on him to give it the much-needed impetus at the top. He can single-handedly change the course of a game, but can as easily throw away his wicket. His last hundred – his 21st in the format – came 17 games ago, and his team would be hoping he can take his T20 form into the 50-over game.
One to watch out for: Jason Holder
Jason Holder became the youngest-ever West Indies captain when he took over the mantle from Dwayne Bravo before the start of the ODI series against South Africa in January 2014. At over six-and-a-half feet, Holder is one of the tallest players in international cricket. His ability to hit the deck hard and extract disconcerting bounce at a lively speed could make him a difficult proposition on hard surfaces.
Holder is a product of the Under-19 system and first made a mark at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2010 in New Zealand. He was the highest wicket-taker for his team with 13 scalps. In 2012, he was drafted into the West Indies ODI squad for the tour of Bangladesh, but was handed a cap only a year later, against Australia. With a calm head on his young shoulders and the experience of Gayle, Samuels and Sammy to bank on, Holder has an opportunity to showcase his ability on cricket’s biggest stage both as an all-rounder and leader.
Chris Gayle follows Manchester United religiously and is glued to the team’s matches when not on the cricket field
Darren Sammy is a former MCC Young Cricketer where he was on the ground-staff with the current Irish captain William Porterfield who they will face in their first group game at Nelson
In 2009, Jason Holder was the winner of the prestigious Lord Gavron Award for the most outstanding youth cricketer from Barbados.
Darren Bravo, whose mannerisms, batting stance and stroke-play are similar to that of Brian Lara, is the West Indies legend's nephew
Key match: West Indies v Pakistan, February 21, Christchurch
The two sides last clashed during the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. On that occasion, Pakistan romped to a ten-wicket victory courtesy an all-round show by Mohammad Hafeez. West Indies will have an opportunity to restore parity this time around in a match that could be crucial not only to group placements but overall qualification for the quarter-finals.
“They might like to use the off-field events and motivate themselves as a unit. It has been a long time since West Indies won the ICC Cricket World Cup and I think this balanced squad has what it takes to regain that glory.” – Viv Richards, the West Indies legend.
“Managing personalities and getting the best out of them is going to be a challenge. So how Jason Holder gets them to play as a team is going to be unique for him and it's asking a lot out of a young fast bowler.” – Graeme Smith, the former South Africa captain.
Scott Styris’s Prediction: West Indies: Quarter- Final
“No Bravo or Pollard will leave a massive hole in the West Indies squad, and even with Chris Gayle in the team, I think they won't be able to beat all the teams over to advance to the semi-final. A real shame politics has played its part here as they would've been a title threat if full strength.”
Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.
Feb 16: v Ireland, Saxton Oval, Nelson
Feb 21: v Pakistan, Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Feb 24: v Zimbabwe, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Feb 27: v South Africa, SCG, Sydney
Mar 06: v India, WACA, Perth
Mar 15: v UAE, McLean Park, Napier
1987 CRICKET WORLD CUP - IN NUMBERS
1983 CRICKET WORLD CUP - IN NUMBERS