The West Indies cricket team for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019 was announced on April 25 amidst a lot of anticipation.
The Carribean unit aren’t one of the mega favorites to seal the deal in England and Wales, but fans should be assured of fireworks.
The West Indies outfit has an essence that makes them quite a decent bunch to look forward to. The task for skipper Jason Holder will be to keep the side on its toes and produce consistent substance.
The squad is relatively fresh and there is a blend of youth and experience. A total of nine players will be making their first appearance in the global event.
That’s quite the moment for many of these players, who will be hungry to showcase their talent in the biggest cricket event.
The major headline surrounding Windies was the inclusion of big-hitting all-rounder Andre Russell. The powerful all-rounder last played ODI cricket in July 2018.
He was recalled for his side’s last two ODIs against England in February, but injury ruled him out of the series. The 30-year old is currently engaged in the Indian Premier League 2019, where he has been in supreme form with the bat.
Also, to grab the news were Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine. The two stars were left out of the squad. Narine’s omission in particular comes in as a surprise.
Meanwhile, Chris Gayle leads the batting show for the Windies. He has been in devastating form this year. Evin Lewis is there in the side as well.
The bowling looks well sorted and experienced. Kemar Roach will be leading the bowling quartet in the mega event.
Interim chairman of the Cricket West Indies selection panel Robert Haynes stated the rationale behind the team selection.
“There were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15, including ensuring there was some continuity in the side, but we believe we have chosen a strong squad of players taking into consideration such factors as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.”
Here we analyse the West Indies squad that will take the field in England and Wales.
Windies have the power in batting
Gayle and Lewis are the obvious choices for the opening role. The veteran Gayle is the key man once again at the top of the order. The 39-year-old peaked during the 2-2 ODI series against England this year.
He was breathtaking and gave a glimpse of what’s to come after averaging 106 across the five games. It was a successful return to international cricket for the Universe Boss.
Gayle is West Indies’ most experienced player with 289 ODI caps to his name. He has registered a commanding 51 half-centuries besides 25 tons to his name, at an average of 38.16.
The superb form against England also helped him continue in the same vein in the ongoing 12th edition of the IPL. Going with an in-form Gayle means a lot for West Indies.
Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope are interesting names that can power this side. Their productivity and zeal could help the side in putting forward some strong shows.
It is a crucial phase for the two to share the burden of the run-scoring responsibility. Lewis will look to compliment Gayle at the top order and some outings for Mumbai Indians in the IPL at this phase, will help him stay connected.
30-year old Darren Bravo is an experienced head. The left-handed batsman is a good foil for the exciting young batters in the side. He is one player that can switch gears as per the situations.
Bravo needs to be the one to take the side past the line with matured batting and consistency. The young Nicholas Pooran is the side’s back-up wicket-keeper batsman and he offers versatility.
He can open the innings and also come on as a finisher. He is another talented young gun in the ranks.
Overall the batting department has a decent touch to it. Consistency will be key here.
Russell the star in the all-round department
Russell’s last ODI in 2018 was his first one-day game in three years. Injuries and a one-year ban in 2017 had stalled the Jamaican’s progress in international cricket, but the selectors have trusted the 30-year-old to be a pivotal member for the side.
Russell has been in exceptional form in T20 leagues around the world. If he can continue with the form shown in the IPL, then Windies will be in for some treat.
His prominent role will be that of a finisher at number seven. But don’t be surprised when the muscular Russell is promoted up the order in several other games. He can take the match away with a blink of an eye.
With Gayle at the top, and Russell as the finisher, Windies are intensely powerful.
Skipper Holder, who recently scored a Test double hundred, brings the calm factor in the unit. He is a proven leader, who has done well to rally the side. The team believes in him and he has stood tall.
Holder is a class pacer and can get you those big shots with the bat as well. Carlos Brathwaite is the side’s third all-rounder. He will need to find form and step up when called upon.
Windies have gone for variety in bowling
With all the three all-rounders being genuine pace-bowling options, Windies have backed the department with senior guns Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.
The two leading pacers have the character to stand up. Roach has 114 wickets in 80 ODIs. Roach will be making his third World Cup appearance. His economy-rate of 5.00 stands out.
The 31-year-old Gabriel is more of a Test specialist, but he has been backed to provide the impetus. Both these bowlers will be hoping to transfer recent success in the longest version of the game into the ODI format.
Besides these two, the presence of Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell bring forward the blend of youth.
Both these players generate pace and can use the short balls well. Thomas can consistently hits speeds of over 145kph. He has already picked up 15 wickets in nine ODIs, including a match-winning five-wicket haul against England last month.
There are two spinners names in the side. Ashley Nurse is the frontline spinner. He has 45 ODIs under his belt. Fabian Allen provides the much-needed support.
He is yet to take an international wicket in four ODIs played so far. This is where someone like a Narine would have been ideal.
The bowling is heavy and articulated, but the spin department is where there is lack of steel and experience.
West Indies fixtures and squad
May 31 West Indies v Pakistan, Trent Bridge
June 6 Australia v West Indies, Trent Bridge
June 10 South Africa v West Indies, Southampton
June 14 England v West Indies, Southampton
June 17 West Indies v Bangladesh, Taunton
June 22 West Indies v New Zealand, Old Trafford
June 27 West Indies v India, Old Trafford
July 1 Sri Lanka v West Indies, Chester-le-Street
July 4 Afghanistan v West Indies, Headingley
Squad: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ashley Nurse, Fabian Allen, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Oshane Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis.