Windies Qualified for 2019 World Cup
Everyone feels a 2019 World Cup without the West Indies would have been sad. Mightily sad, according to some. In fact, it would’ve signaled the end of the road for the once mighty team. So now that the Windies have made it through- something most of us would’ve imagined in a dream scenario- why aren’t we experiencing the loud cheer? Where are the smiles and appreciation hiding?
Were West Indies lucky?
They were certainly assisted by some fortunate run-ins with luck in the game against Scotland. Add to that the kind showering of blessing thanks to the rain. This combined with their helter-skelter approach of contesting, ensured that the team made it.
Certainly, the feeling of having not qualified in itself might have been akin to a nightmare you dread facing. But now that the unforeseen didn’t happen, can we get to accept that maybe there was something the Windies did right?
So would it be fair to limit Windies’ qualification only to a great stroke with fortune? Were none of their performances, throughout 8 onerous contests worthy of affording the team some victories? This is a question as debatable as is the classic 21st-century argument over the best batsman in the modern game. Some would say Sachin, without a doubt. Others would point to Lara. It can go on endlessly and perhaps to no satisfactory answer.
Persistent troubles ensued
That said, a lot about Windies’ approach to the contest was either lackadaisical or ill-conceived. Die-hard fans who still hope for the great Caribbean revival were disenchanted to note their abysmal failures against Afghanistan. Rashid Khan didn’t only perturb them. He had company in Nabi, Gulbadin and, Mujeeb. They nearly goofed up the chase against Zimbabwe, one of their classic victories in international cricket. Moreover, Gayle looked mightily out of place. The first ball dismissal against Scotland and a solitary run against Afghanistan didn’t cut him in the best shape.
But that told, it may have happened that in the tragic affection for Scotland- who were as deserving of qualifying as any- we may have overlooked some key players who went all out in propelling the Windies’ troubled ship. So which 5 players contributed handsomely to making West Indies reach where they eventually have?
1. Marlon Samuels
It would suffice to say that the greatest acrimony surrounding Marlon Samuels is that he often gets painted for dubious incidents that involved him, such as his vehement outburst against Warne at the conclusion of the ICC World T20, 2016 or the send-out he offered to Stokes albeit ever so silently.
What often cheats the public eye is that if there’s a real big-match performer for the West Indies, then it’s Marlon Nathaniel Samuels. Need proof? Rewind your minds to World T20 2012 finals. Samuels taking on Malinga head-on, finished with a match-winning fifty.
Need more proof, remember his match-winning 85* at the Eden Gardens against a Stoke-powered England. Need more proof? Quite simply remember what could’ve been his finest ODI inning in a really long time: that fiery 86 versus Zimbabwe, checkered by the eye-pleasing delight of the Jamaican dancing down the crease to lift Cremer into the stands: not once but twice. If that’s not a star quality inning, that will ever be?
2. Jason Holder
Cometh the hour… cometh the captain. This would truly suffice the earnestness and importance of Jason Holder in the tournament. As it is, his share of task is enormously overwhelming; being asked to lead a side that is nearly fighting every day for cricketing survival.
We must tip our hat to Holder’s calmness and composure and ability to keep up with the fight, even in lowly outcomes against Afghanistan. But the fact that the Bajan came out firing with the bat, prodding bowlers with towering sixes and sticking to an end to oversee flow of runs, marked the great arrival of Jason Holder, a player who somehow looked as confused during 2015 world cup as he now seems ready today to lead his team to an onerous new challenge come 2019.
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3. Evin Lewis
Tipped as the natural successor to the mighty Gayle-force, it was hardly a surprise to see Lewis chip in with not one but three valuable fifties. That said, it was also equally painful to see him hand over his wicket easily instead of grinding the bowlers to earn it.
But Lewis’ important half-centuries against potent bowling attacks of Scotland and Zimbabwe meant that the left-hander had some appetite for a fight. As also for destruction, which was amply demonstrated by the eight sixes he struck throughout the tournament.
Importantly, to the doubters who’d love to restrict his game in the confines of a pinch-hitter saw Lewis stitching useful partnerships with no.3 Hope and no.4 Samuels in the event of an early Gayle ouster. He should be dearly pleased with his effort. The upcoming IPL may just go on to hand him more experience of playing some of the world’s clever bowlers.
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4. Shai Hope
Arguably the finest Windies batsman to have emerged from the gallows of uncertainty surrounding the right mix of talent at the domestic level, within a year and a half of being in international cricket, Hope seems like he belongs here. And boasts of potential to go the long way.
Right at the start of this tournament, he stitched a face-saving partnership with Holder in what seemed pretty destined to be PNG’s win against Windies. Later, he joined Lewis and later, Samuels to dig Windies out of a hole of uncertainty when Zimbabwe’s bulky ask of 290 seemed to be going out of hands for his team.
A batsman who has the great balance of calmness and aggression, you feel Hope can do a lot better with a more judicious rotation of strike.
5. Kemar Roach
The Barbadian fast bowler upped the winning ante for Windies by scalping useful and quick wickets when they most mattered. Even in games where the side didn’t boast of heavy totals, Roach was at his best in roasting opponents through nagging pace and accuracy.
Bowling his heart out, he stuck to his rhythmic line and length and bowled with great carry in the absence of Jerome Taylor, the other Windies quick who was missing in the contest. This only made Roach’s efforts and ultimately the success, more enjoyable and vital in defining the Windies’ success.