Mumbai: 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup – the England and Wales-based showpiece -- will start on May 30, and will go on till July 14. However, this year the cricket governing body has decided to change the format of the tournament -– where ten teams will play versus other nine teams, and the four teams that comes out on top will advance to the semi-finals.
Nonetheless, today we look at the teams which have a good shot at the title. We will also look at some of the key players who may turn the tide in their team’s favour at any given moment.
West Indies cricket team is always known for producing legendary players like Gary Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Brain Lara, and the name goes on.
However, this time the two-time World Champions are making its entry into the mega-event as another dark-horse of the tournament. The two-time World Cup winners have already lifted the coveted trophy at the home ground of the World Cup host. Having already lifted the prestigious cup in 1975, and 1979, the Carribbeans would be looking to clinch the trophy for the third time.
Nonetheless, the runners-up of the 1983 edition have gone through a lot of changes. The Jason Holder-led team is no more a force to be reckoned with. The team don’t possess the same attacking mentality as they used to do earlier.
The team has gone a through a transition phase which saw the backs of golden generation players like Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose.
Since the 2007 edition, the West Indies cricket team has been struggling to progress beyond the quarter finals. Despite that the nation hasn’t stopped producing attacking batsman. The cricket team has evolved a lot to produce big hitters like Andre Russell who can turn the game at any given moment.
The Carribean nation, however, has two T20 world championships under its belt. And, the credit goes to their attacking batsman who can strike towering sixes, and to their power hitting all-rounders who can hit monstrous sixes as well as pick-up wickets during crucial moments.
Although, it has stopped producing quality bowlers who can bundle out teams quickly. The West Indies cricket team don’t any longer possess the same calmness, and composure which is required to play the 50-overs format.
Having said that let us take a look at their performance at the biggest stage of all.
West Indies' history at the World Cup
1975 - 1983
The period from 1975 to 1983 is considered as the golden era for the West Indies cricket team, because during this period only the team had won its back-to-back trophies in 1975, and 1979 respectively. While in 1983, the Clive Lloyd team had finished as runners-up.
In 1987, the Clive Lloyd-led team couldn’t proceed beyond the group stage. They endured the same fate in the 1992 edition.
In 1996, Brian Lara’s team fought hard enough to reach the semis.
1999 - 2003
During the 1999 and 2003 World cup, the Brian Lara-led team didn’t proceed beyond the group stage.
However, Lara’s team did make some improvement in the 2007 edition to qualify for the quarter finals.
2011 – 2015
In the 2011 and 2015 editions of World Cup, the unit endured the same fate yet again as it got eliminated in the quarterfinal stage.
The West Indies cricket team has set its cricket playing benchmark so low that it had to participate in the 2018 World Cup qualifier tournament in order to qualify for the 2019 World Cup campaign.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to watch how the Chris Gayle’s team performs at this year’s World Cup.
Here, in this article, we will analyse five players – five game changing players – out of the 15-member West Indies squad.
West Indies declared their 15-member World Cup squad, which is as follows:-
Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell and Shimron Hetmyer.
Chris Gayle will play his fifth World Cup, Andre Russell, Darren Bravo and Kemar Roach will play their third, and Holder his second World Cup respectively.
Sunil Narine was not selected because he tore a ligament in his finger, which would have put his efficiency to bowl his quota of 10 overs in risk. Alzarri Joseph was also not selected due because of his muscle injury and arm dislocation.
Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo were named in the reserves list. While, Rovman Powell and Marlon Samuels were neglected as all the places were fulfilled.
The squad is finalised and it shows aggressive style of play, with the destructive efficiencies of Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis and Andre Russell encountered by the pairing method of Shai Hope and Darren Bravo in the batting order.
Gayle and Lewis are the eventual openers, followed by Hope at number three and Bravo at four, while Hetmyer, Holder, Russell and Brathwaite are set to follow at five, six and seven to do the destruction during the slog overs.
Nicholas Pooran has been selected as a reserve batsman and wicket-keeper.
Kemar Roach's experience will come handy in anchoring the bowling unit. Kemar Roach and Jason Holder will head-line the bowling attack with their predictable pace, while Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas can bowl fast. Thomas and Cottrell have shown their form in the recent ODI series against England with nine and seven wickets respectively.
Off-spinner Fabian Allen and Ashley Nurse are the only spinners in the World Cup squad, as Devendra Bishoo was neglected.
Gayle's selection was confirmed after he amassed 424 runs against England earlier this year. He then carried-on his form to IPL.
Andre Russell's come-back as a batting all-rounder was boosted by his blistering form in IPL. He fetched 392 runs in 10 innings, and looks virtually unstoppable. That said Russell must be managed carefully because he is still dealing with his injury.
Hetmyer brought his blistering form into the IPL. Hetmyer started his destructive form with an 83 ball hundred versus England.
Cottrell claimed his best figure, 5(46) against England, showing that he can wreck any top batting order on any given day.
Jason Holder complements Cottrell very well as he did during during the recently concluded ODI series versus England when he picked up three crucial wickets.
Prediction: This is an experienced squad that can throw a challenge to the favourites, nevertheless the absence of a wrist spinner on the flat pitches of England would turn to be an issue, but, that could be compensated by the pace bowlers' impact.
Managing player fitness is also vital, as Russell, Roach, Lewis and Gayle were in a recovery process from or were dealing with injuries.
However, our final prediction remains that the team may compete for a semi-final place with Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan....