By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
The West Indies captain backs spin duo Narine and Badree to cause damage upfront when Australia bats
Faulkner has said he doesn’t particularly like the West Indies and that he would like to knock a few over. Typically, Sammy’s face broke out into a broad grin the moment the word ‘James’ was uttered. “The Australians normally have a lot to say. We are here to play cricket. I think probably James is the only cricketer that does not love West Indians. I could safely say West Indies are the second favourite team for the fans. It does not bother us. Talk is talk. We have got to walk the talk out there on the cricket field. He can say all he wants. We are not bothered by it,” said Sammy on Thursday (March 27).
Sammy chose to fall back on history when he was asked if Faulkner’s utterances would serve as extra motivation for the West Indies. “The last time we played them in a World Cup, we all know what happened,” remarked Sammy, alluding to his team’s 74-run victory in the semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Colombo. “If anybody should be talking, probably it should be ... We are not threatened by him. It is another game of cricket. Once we play to our full potential – so far in this tournament, we have not played to our full potential – we will be very destructive. We were destructive in that semi-final last World Cup.”
The West Indies has been well served in this tournament by Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, the spin twins. Against Australia’s power-packed batting unit, they will again be a big threat, Sammy warned. “It will be a good contest. Badree and Narine are No. 1 and No. 2 in the world in T20 cricket at the moment and Badree has been getting wickets upfront for us in the first six overs. It is something we are looking he will hopefully continue doing. It won't be an easy game. The Australians are a good side. We give them that respect. But at the end of the day, it is another cricket match where it is a contest between bat and ball. The team that handles the pressure better and executes properly normally comes out on top. And we are hoping that it will be us tomorrow,” said Sammy.
“Australia are playing their second game. We know we have to give ourselves the best possible chance, which is, we have to win two games. We have had good matches against Australia where we have come out on the winning side of things and we want to continue in that vein.”
Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan off-spinner, has been working with the West Indies spinners for a while now. On the West Indies’ tour of India last November, Shane Shillingford had spoken at length on Saqlain’s contributions to the mental side of things, something Badree had also reiterated a couple of days back. Sammy sang a similar tune, saying, “Saqlain comes in with a lot of experience, especially here in Bangladesh. He is a very calm guy, knows a lot about the game. He has been a good addition to our coaching staff. If he could work on improving the quality we have in our spinning department and yet keep the dressing room calm and cool like we normally are, it will be a plus for us.”
Talk veered to Chris Gayle, his absence from training on Thursday a talking point, but Sammy dismissed any talk of serious injury. “As far as I know, Chris doesn't intend to miss any matches in this World Cup,” emphasised Sammy. “I don't think any cricketer can ever be perfect on a cricket field. They always have some niggle ... whether it is the finger or the hamstring feeling sore. Nobody is ever perfect when they are out there. So he is fit to play.
“Chris is hitting the ball well, (Dwayne) Smith is hitting the ball well. They have put on good runs. Chris has not been his explosive self that we are used to. We still scored 170 (v Bangladesh). Once we back ourselves and play like we know how to play T20 ... Australia will come with their pace attack. Last time they did that, we scored 200, I think. We just have to come and play what we see. Hopefully it goes well for us.”