New West Indies one-day captain says coping with the English conditions would be the toughest part of his team's campaign
Well, first of all, thank you. ICC Champions Trophy, we as players know it as the mini‑World Cup. We see it as a very important tournament. For us as a team and all the cricketing nations also, we are really looking forward to it. I myself, it's a new road for me taking over of the ODI team, and I'm really excited to be a part of a side that has such world‑class players. I just can't wait to lead the team, and like I said before, it's a tournament that’s very important to us.
We're in a very tough group, India, Pakistan, also South Africa, so it's not going to be easy. Playing in England, also, is always challenging in itself, but we are up for it. We are looking forward to the two warm up games against Australia and Sri Lanka, and let's see -- come the first game make sure that we have most things correctly to start.
Chris Gayle has done a lot of great things for cricket over the years, and I know he still has a lot of desire, passion to represent the West Indies teamDwayne Bravo
Most of your players have played IPL, so do you think that's given you less time to gel before the tournament do you think?
I think we've had enough time to gel. We've been playing together over the last eight, seven years, so I think being at IPL and being there for two months, what I feel it actually does for us is give us some confidence playing against different oppositions. Now we have the opportunity for us having done well in the IPL to come together now in one team and take the good form that we have from the IPL and transfer it into the longer form of the game.
This format is more challenging, obviously, with the longer play. It's a longer form than T20, but like I said, we have players such as Chris Gayle, Pollard; Ramneresh Sarwan is back also Marlon Samuels is back, so you can't forget those players, and like I said, I'm happy to have all of them available, fit and ready for selection. As long as they play well they make my job easy and make cricket look easy, and we just can't wait to get on the team with them.
You say you're up for it. Is it fair to say that last time you came here you weren't too up for it at all? Can you put some reasons behind that and have you got over that now?
The last time we turned up playing in England or the last Champions Trophy?
The last time you were in England, I guess, last year.
Yeah, it's always challenging for us because of the weather. It's always hard for us to come for two weeks to this weather. Where we come from, the Caribbean, it's tropical, relaxing, and we're not the only team struggling in England to be honest. The Indians and Sri Lankans also struggle here.
Like I said, it's a tournament that has a lot at stake and a lot of teams want to do well in this tournament, but to be honest I'm not going to let the weather get the better of us, and that is one thing I'm going to instill in the team, okay, we are away from home, we are away from our comfort zone, but at the end of the day we are professionals and we have to try and adapt to any kind of conditions before us.
That's the biggest challenge, and it's something that I'm prepared to let the guys know, and I'm sure that the boys will be looking forward to it because it's a prestigious tournament and it's another tournament we'd love to win. We won it here in 2004. Now we have like five players from 2004 who are here again today. So it's good to know we still have basically the core of the team around, and hopefully that will help.
What will you be looking to get out of the opening match against Australia on Saturday and what do you need to do differently as a team compared with your recent series against them a few months ago?
The series in Australia we didn't start well, and playing in Australia, once you don't start well it's difficult to come back. They're a fantastic team, and we have to respect that. But they're out of Australia, also, now they're in England. We're also in England. I think both teams are going to use the first game as preparation to see exactly what is the right combination for the teams. We're going to use it as preparation to see how well we take the best situation we should to go into our first game. Yes, we want to win the game, but it's about picking the right team, getting a balance and getting our style of play the way we want to play in this tournament.
Those five games in Australia are behind us. To be honest we're not really taking it on much. It's a practice game, and we're going to try to play to the best.
Can I ask what you've made of the Cardiff Wales Stadium in Cardiff when you've been here? We've had a lot of rain, the pitches must be challenging, particularly coming off the back of an IPL season and obviously Australia, as well?
The last time I played here was 2004, and the entire structure has changed. It felt like a new stadium for me. We practiced there yesterday but all indoors, so I have not seen what the wickets look like as yet. But I think all the pitches in England around this time of the year basically will be more on the seamer side, seamer friendly, so we'll prepare ourselves for that type of conditions and hopefully we get good weather, and come Saturday that we get an opportunity to actually play and see what work needs to be done and what we need to improve on before we play our first game.
Is Chris Gayle still the most dangerous one‑day batsman in the world do you think, and what's he like to captain?
Yes, he is the most dangerous player, and I think he will be until he decides to finish the game. But he's a guy that's easy to captain. Chris doesn't say much. He shares his knowledge. He's very approachable, a good team man, and to have someone like him in the team is always an asset. To me as captain, I can't explain how I feel of ‑‑ I'm very happy to have him available and fit and playing. He has done a lot of great things for cricket over the years, and I know he still has a lot of desire, passion to represent the West Indies team. I want to do well for West Indies cricket, and like I said, I have the opportunity to lead a talented team with all the senior players available along with some real exciting players, and what that's going to ask for, the coaching staff, everyone is happy, and hopefully we can get off to a good start in the tournament. I know a lot of teams will be looking at our squad and thinking that, yeah, we have a very good team.
But at the end of the day, cricket is played on the field, and we're not going to allow the outside distractions get in the way of how we prepared and how we want to play in this tournament.
Talking about the captaincy, can you outline the reasons why there was that change made, that you've become the captain of the one‑day side?
I think they just want to try a rotation policy. Obviously Darren had been doing the job in all forms of the game for the last two and a half years, and that itself can be a tasking job, just give him a break from the team. He's still our test captain, so therefore I think that it's a change of pace. I'm happy he's still in the squad so I can actually continue what he left, take over from what Darren was actually doing, and he's here and we've get the best way, the best combination, what we think should be the best for the West Indies teams so that we can win games.
Tell us something about Sunil Narine; he's been bowling really well of late. And the second question is you have so many allrounders like you, Pollard, Samuels, Sammy; do you think there's a problem of plenty in that department?
Yeah, Sunil Narine burst on the scene. He has done a great job for himself and for us as a team but also for other teams he's played for around the world. He's still learning his trade, he still has a lot to learn, and every day by day he practices well, and I think that he's going to be a main player and will always be a main player in our setup. We've got to give him that assurance that he's our key player, not put too much pressure on him. Obviously playing in England before did not have much success and teams tend to say okay, he can't bowl outside of the Caribbean, outside of the subcontinent, but he's a world‑class player. He's very young and he has achieved a lot in international cricket for the short time he has been there.
So now is a good opportunity for him again to actually do well. We're going to use him. Yes, he's our trump player, our marquee player, but he's not under any pressure to perform for us. If he does well, it's a bonus, but we're going to let Sunil just relax and enjoy his cricket and enjoy the competition ahead of him. It's a great tournament for him, it's his first ICC Champions Trophy, and I'm sure he wants to go out.
As for the allrounders, on our team it's always good to have allrounders. We are fortunate enough to have myself, Marlon, Chris Gayle, Pollard, also Sammy, and I think that it's good for West Indies cricket to have so many good quality allrounders on one team. In this form of the game you definitely need allrounders, and it makes cricket easier. It makes the balance of the team a lot more when you have a specialist batter who can give you some momentum or a specialist bowler who can lock a few down in the end, so it's good.
Just wanted to understand, you're the reigning ICC World Twenty20 champion, you have a very good twenty20 record, all your players play a lot of twenty20 cricket. Will that help you in this tournament at all? How do you see the differentiation between a twenty20 team and a one‑day team, and how does one make a transition from being a very good twenty20 team to a very good one‑day team?
I think the basics that are required, it's a longer format of T20, and I think what we have to do as a team, identify where we used to go wrong in ODIs. Lately in ODIs we never used to score enough runs as a batting team, especially against the better teams, but at this time we'll try to challenge it different. We're try to structure our batting a lot different. Approach through the middle, it's going to be different. We know for ‑‑ we are West Indian players, and we can make up for the slow ‑‑ if we get a slow start or if we falter in the middle. But the most important thing is to try and keep wickets in hand, and I think that's what our approach is going to be in this tournament.
We bat very deep, and like I said, we can make up. We have players who can hit a six at any point in time. We are going to approach it different. Like I said, twenty20 is mostly good for us. We struggle a bit more in the longer forms of the game, but no, it's a great opportunity for us to actually move away from the twenty20 glory and try to focus on a tournament that is also important for us.
There is a feeling around that you are one of the favorites. Do you accept that first of all, and secondly, how do you fancy a West Indies‑England final?
Well last year in Sri Lanka we were cast as favorites and we end up winning, so it's good to be favorites again. Hopefully we win this time. But honestly we don't think we are favorites. We just want to concentrate on what we have to do. We're in a very tough group, and first of all, we want to take it step by step, try and survive that group, the talk around is it's the group of death, so hopefully we get out of the group of death and then take it from there.
A tournament like this, it's short, and you never know what can happen.
Being favorites, it's good that other teams can actually ‑‑ and media people can actually look at us as favorites, but we don't see ourselves as favorites, we just want to be humble and go about our business in our own way and let the man above take care of our destiny.
England is going to be a very dangerous team. All teams know playing in England, England is difficult to actually walk over them. They definitely will be one of the teams that should be in the top four, in the semifinal stages. Hopefully we don't have to meet them until maybe the finals. That would be good.
Can we expect you being the captain to do the same dance moves that you do after taking wickets?
Yeah, I think nothing will change. I'm the same, yes I'm the captain now, a bit more responsibility but I try to remain and be the person who I am, the person who the fans have grown to love over the years I've been playing cricket, and I’m going to continue to do that. I'm going to lead from the front and I'm going to make sure that my team plays the game the way it should be played in the right spirit, and we're going to entertain the people.
Obviously winning is going to be my main priority, especially in a tournament like this, but yeah, we're going to continue to entertain and we're going to continue to play the game how we know how to play with the flair and the glamour, and hopefully we can give the English fans something to support.