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25 March 201507:24

West Indies CWC15 wrap

The West Indies had both highs and lows in CWC15, and the experience from both will help build a team for the future

West Indies CWC15 wrap - Cricket News

Holder believed his team answered its critics with some of its performances, and the experience would help build a strong team.

A young 23-year-old at the helm in Jason Holder, missing key players such as Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine for various reasons, losing Darren Bravo to injury just two games into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and their swashbuckling batsman, Chris Gayle, struggling with a back problem – it seemed the odds were against the West Indies.

And, when it lost its first game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to Ireland, things looked dire.

Yet, the men from the Caribbean weren’t dispirited. The West Indies, shaken up by that first loss, came back strongly to beat Pakistan and Zimbabwe with trademark flair, before a victory over the United Arab Emirates earned them a place in the knockout stage, ironically, at the expense of Ireland.

However, the team couldn’t get past New Zealand in the quarter-final.

In the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the West Indies’ campaign was one of contrasts.

After the ominous start, when Ireland chased down a total in excess of 300, Darren Sammy, the former West Indies captain, said: “We've not been playing the brand of cricket that allows us to win matches. Our bowlers have been going for some sticks over the last few games and today was no different against an experienced Irish team where you know they had a game plan and they stuck to it.

“If we continue to play like that, we won't be here for long, for sure. So we still believe that the World Cup is just one game. You win four out of five matches or sometimes even four out of six, and then you can still get into the quarters."

That was what the team eventually did. Success arrived as early as in the second game after it stunned Pakistan with a 150-run victory. Andrew Russell was the star that game, scoring a quick-fire 42 and picking up three wickets.

Russell, who was Player of the Match, said, “We just turned up today and wanted to show the world that we are not just a pushover. We are always a good team and we can fight. There is no easy team in the World Cup. It just goes to show on the day we have to turn up. It doesn't matter which team we play against, we're going to have to play our A game.”

And did the West Indies turn up and play its A game? True to Russell’s word, it did. It put up a stellar show against Zimbabwe in its third game, with Gayle brushing aside indifferent form to score his first double-century in a One-Day International. Having averaged just over 14 in 19 games, Gayle, struggling with injury, had a rough 18 months. But the double-century showed just how explosive he could be.

However, the West Indies then had a huge setback to its quarterfinal hopes with losses to South Africa – AB de Villiers was its nemesis again as he followed up the fastest hundred he had scored against the side a few months ago with the fastest 150 in ODI history to had the West Indies a 257-run loss – and India.

After that four-wicket loss to India, it had to beat the UAE convincingly to make the knockout stage, and the side took up the challenge.

But little did it know what awaited on the other side. Martin Guptill. After being dropped on 4, Guptill went on to score a whopping unbeaten 237 off just 163 balls. Gayle struggled with his back injury, yet scored a 33-ball 61, while wickets tumbled at the other end. The West Indies was ahead of the required run-rate, but it ran out of wickets to lose by 143 runs.

“Batsmen are scaling new heights and it is great for the game and for crowd-attendances in the future,” said Vivian Richards after the quarterfinal clash. “They are breaking all sorts of records and enjoying their time in the middle. At the same time, the execution from bowlers has been poor. With the new rules coming in, I think I have only seen batsmen improvising and there are very few bowlers around today who have upped their game accordingly.”

It was also West Indies’ inconsistency that held it back, something that Holder didn’t shy away from. “We've just been obviously inconsistent from the tour of South Africa to this World Cup. We've had some good games and we've had some bad games, but we've never been consistent going forward.”

For Holder, who was handed the reins of the ODI side just at the beginning of the year, it was baptism by fire, but he took back several lessons. “I think, personally I've taken a lot. I've been through a lot. There's been a lot of criticism left right and centre and all over the place. I'm proud of myself the way I stood up.

“Not wanting to shy away from responsibility or get in my head when things get tough. I expected a tough job when I accepted the captaincy, and no doubt it's been a tough time, but we've had some very good times. I've learned a lot about how to manage our players and just trying to get the best out of our players. It's been a challenge, yes. But one I truly enjoyed.”

Holder believed his team answered its critics with some of its performances, and the experience would help build a strong team.

In Viv Richards’s words: “[The experience] should act as a boost for them in future and they need to understand that a loss can be used for positives too. They should learn to build a team for the next ICC Cricket World Cup in four years’ time, and their aim should be to go a long way into the knockouts then.”