The secret to Sammy's smile: West Indies depth and power
Du Plessis may not enjoy the same number of allrounders in his South African side, but their options are considerable too
25 March 2016 15:22
In the ongoing ICC World Twenty20 2016, West Indies has quickly established itself as one of the most fearsome teams, with an enviable depth and explosive power that few others can match. Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite and Sammy himself can bowl seam-up and bat. Chris Gayle's offspin is rarely used, but it's an option in addition his big-hitting. Among those waiting in the wings, Jason Holder, the pace bowler, is no mug with the bat.
Little wonder then, that Sammy said, "I tell people, when I look at my team, I always have a smile on my face. We have won two games batting second and you are yet to see a full innings from Russell, myself, Carlos. The world has not yet seen Carlos in T20 and when that time comes, we all are ready and eager to go out and bat and perform for the team. One of our goals is whoever is out there having a good day, do it for the team. Don't leave anything for the dressing room. So we have 15 hungry match-winners. If we continue like this, we fancy our chances in this tournament."
Indeed, Sammy has so many riches at his command that neither he nor Gayle have had to bowl a single over so far. "For me, T20 is about momentum. It's just looking at how the game is developing, unfolding. As a captain, am always looking at what's best for the team," he explained. "If you notice, in the first game, we had so many bowling options. I have not bowled in the tournament as yet, Chris has not bowled one over. The first match, the main bowlers didn't really complete their overs. The last match, we started so well that I just used five bowlers. In these conditions here, where the ball might grip a little and variation is important, you might see me bowl a couple of overs. That's the beauty of our team."
It's a depth that Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, can only look on enviously when the two teams face each other on Friday (March 25) at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur. "That's the amazing thing about West Indies, they've got a lot of allrounders," said du Plessis on Thursday. "They've got lots of guys who can bowl and they also bat very deep. But for us, we're used to not having those options. It hasn't been part of our blueprint for a while now, so we make do with it and we've done OK with the resources that we've had."
But while it's not to the level of West Indies, du Plessis does have some depth at his command too. Dale Steyn wasn't included in their last match - a win against Afghanistan - and at a venue where he has had a lot of success, he's still not sure of a spot in the XI. "Yes, it's an extremely big headache to have, but it's one that's very nice to have - the fact that we've got real good options. Our bowlers stepped up, Kagiso (Rabada) has been amazing, Kyle Abbott has been almost a silent assassin. He does his job without anyone knowing, and then you've got the experience of Dale Steyn. It is a big headache, but it's a nice one to have. We've had a few of these headaches with the selection of this game, but as I said before, the main thing for me is that we as a team have for the first time depth in our squad and we're allowing all that depth now to come through."
One area West Indies hasn't been tested in is defending a target. Sammy has won both tosses so far and opted to chase. "So far the grounds we have played on, the statistics say that the team that has batted second has higher percentage on winning. We look at the pitch conditions there. We saw the match between New Zealand and India where the pitch turned. We will take that into consideration. Fortunately, I won two tosses and it's something that's not guaranteed. Whatever we do, we just have to do it well."