Can the inexperienced West Indies win the third T20 world title?
The Antilles will be in search of their third T20 World Cup title when the 2022 edition takes place in Australia.
The Antilles, winners of the 2012 and 2016 tournaments, will participate in the qualifying tournament from Monday with the aim of qualifying for the Super 12.
The regional team will participate in Group B of the qualifying tournament alongside Scotland, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
The top two teams from Group A and Group B of the qualifying tournament will qualify for the Super 12, which will be played on October 22.
This reporter breaks down the West Indies team looking at what can make the team a threat and what can possibly make the tournament disappointing.
EXPERIENCED PLAYERS NOT AROUND
What a difference a year makes. A number of players who were part of the Antilles squad for the 2021 T20 World Cup last year in the United Arab Emirates and Oman are not in the squad for the 2022 edition.
Kieron Pollard, captain of the West Indies last year, has since retired from international cricket. Nicholas Pooran, who was vice-captain in 2021, is now in charge of the regional team.
Pollard’s fiery captain and his punching power will be a loss for the team.
The versatile Dwayne Bravo retired from international cricket after the 2021 edition. The charismatic Bravo has a knack for grabbing crucial wickets and his slower ball often outplays batsmen.
Top flyhalf and batsman Lendl Simmons is another player who has chosen to hang up his boots at international level.
Fly-half Chris Gayle, 43, has struggled for form in recent years. Gayle has not officially retired from international cricket but has been overlooked by West Indies selectors since the 2021 World Cup.
Andre Russell last played for West Indies in the 2021 World Cup. Russell hasn’t had the best of relations with West Indies officials and is not in Australia with the squad.
At a press conference in August, West Indies coach Phil Simmons was asked if he was concerned that players, including Russell, were not making themselves available for the West Indies.
Simmons said, “I don’t think I should be begging people to play for their country.”
A few days later, Russell responded on social media, saying, “I know this was gonna happen, but I’m gonna keep quiet!!!”
Shimron Hetmyer was replaced in the squad by Shamarh Brooks at the last minute. Guyanese Hetmyer did not take his initial flight for family reasons. When another flight was arranged for him two days later, he said he would not be able to get to the airport in time.
Veteran pacer Ravi Rampaul is also not on this year’s squad.
BOWLERS JOSEPH, MCCOY, HOSEIN KEY
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph has developed his skills in the T20 format.
Joseph has shown his ability to play for the Yorkers which will prove to be an asset for the West Indies.
West Indies hope Obed McCoy can stay healthy as the left arm pacer is injury prone.
McCoy’s slower ball has proven difficult for batsmen and he will be aiming to outwit the best batsmen in the world at the T20 World Cup.
McCoy has received advice from Bravo in the past. Bravo’s slower ball was difficult for batsmen to choose.
Left arm spinner Akeal Hosein has been one of the most consistent wicket takers for West Indies since making his T20 International debut in July 2021.
Hosein also makes scoring difficult for batsmen as his career save rate is 6.93.
CAN POWER HITTERS DELIVER?
Despite the absence of Pollard, Russell and Gayle, the West Indies are still equipped with batsmen who can change a game with their ability to get over the fence.
Pooran, vice-captain Rovman Powell, Charles, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers and Odean Smith are all destroyers. If half of them deliver massive totals, that shouldn’t be a problem during the tournament.
Some of them are inexperienced internationally and time will tell if they are ready for the big fires.
Shamarh Brooks, Brandon King and Yannic Cariah will bring balance to the bat with their ability to time the ball and rotate the shot.
King and Mayers were the CPL’s top batsmen with 422 points and 366 points, respectively.
POORAN LOOKING FOR RUNS
Pooran was in terrible shape.
Playing for Trinbago Knight Riders in the 2022 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), he could only muster 108 runs in nine innings averaging 12.
With a relatively inexperienced batting team, Pooran’s contributions will be crucial to the team’s success.
Pooran was among the runs in the final T20 World Cup training game against the United Arab Emirates, scoring 46 points.
CAN CHARLES REPLICATE THE CPL FORM?
Fly-half Johnson Charles had a prolific CPL for St Lucia Kings, scoring 345 runs over nine innings averaging 43.12. His average was the highest among the tournament’s top ten scorers.
He finished with a strike rate of 133.20.
Charles, 33, was rewarded with a recall from the West Indies. The call surprised more than one, because Charles has not had the colors of the West Indies for six years.
The right-hander hasn’t turned heads in Australia, having scored three and 29 goals respectively against Australia (in a pair of T20 internationals) and one against the United Arab Emirates (in a warm-up for the T20 World Cup ).
West Indies team: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Yannic Cariah, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy, Raymon Reifer, Odean Smith , Shamarh Brooks.