There was a time when the very name West Indies used to strike fear in heart of its opposition. However, that was a thing of the past when batsmen like Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge were backed up by an assembly line of world class fast bowlers like Andy Roberts, Mike Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. In the ’90s and early parts of 2000s players like Carl Hooper, Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose tried their very best to carry on the tradition but they were never the force they used to be. Almost all the teams that have played since then have pledged to bring back the glory days of Caribbean cricket but not to much avail.
Coming to the Champions Trophy 2013, not many will be betting on West Indies to win the trophy that they had won when it was played for the last time in England in 2004. Back then, the team had been galvanized by the Hurricane Ivan that had raged the island of Grenada. This is not to say that the present team will not have much motivation when it comes to this year’s tournament. It has been a dominant force winning the T20 World Cup 2012 held in Sri Lanka and would like to carry that momentum in this championship as well.
Moving to team analysis, the West Indies have a strong batting line up with new captain Dwayne Bravo leading the way and backed by the explosive Chris Gayle, the brilliant Marlon Samuels and the silky artist Ramnaresh Sarwan. They will be well supported by Darren Bravo, the captain’s sibling and a protégé of the legendary Brian Lara, Johnson Charles, Kieron Pollard and Devon Smith. Charles and Pollard are explosive batsmen and Devon Smith has a fair amount of experience. The wicketkeeper and vice captain Denesh Ramdin can be expected to contribute with the bat as well.
With regard to bowling, much will depend on Darren Sammy, the ex-captain. He will also play a major role in shoring up the later middle order. The team has a couple of out and out fast bowlers in the Barbadian duo Tino Best and Kemar Roach. They have been paired with seamers Ravi Rampaul and Jason Holder. It remains to be seen which of these guys get to play. In all probability, the inexperienced Holder might struggle to make an appearance. West Indies have always had an embarrassment of riches in the fast bowling department. This is borne out by the fact that they have left out fast bowlers like Fidel Edwards and Shannon Gabriel. They have a very capable spinner in Sunil Narine whose recent form in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has not been too encouraging. However, he can be expected to put that behind him in the big stage.
A couple of omissions and selections are worth questioning though. Young opener Kieran Powell has surprisingly been left behind in favor of Devon Smith who has not played for the national team for a long time now – at least a couple of years. The omission of Dwayne Smith is also surprising given that he can chip in with both bat and ball. Similarly Samuel Badree could also have been picked in the team.
However, before they are written off, it needs to be remembered that the team won its last two world championships when very few had given it the chance to do so. It also needs to be kept in mind that they lost their one day series to Australia and Bangladesh before bouncing back against Zimbabwe. So their form book is not all good but they do have a history of performing well in major tournaments. Who knows? They may be the dark horse this time around as well!
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