WI with much to do ahead of Cricket World Cup next year

Saturday, August 11, 2018

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That the West Indies are a far way from where they should be in order to compete effectively at next year's International Cricket Council (ICC) 50-over cricket World Cup in England and Wales is well established.

Cricket-watchers recognised as much, as the Caribbean side were first forced to qualify and then stumbled badly on occasions at the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe earlier this year. Some will recall that West Indies came in second behind tournament winners Afghanistan in Zimbabwe.

An absence of consistency among batsmen, a seemingly dull edge in the bowling attack, and inefficient fielding were glaring weaknesses back then.

To a considerable extent the same weaknesses were on show recently as West Indies went down 1-2 to touring Bangladesh in both the 50-over and Twenty20 formats of the Sandals Home Series.

A big plus from the 50-over series against Bangladesh was the fitness and obvious hunger of the veteran star Mr Christopher Gayle, who will be 39 and approaching the end of his glittering international career come the World Cup. Mr Gayle has struggled with injuries and fitness in recent years, but against Bangladesh he seemed physically tuned and in reasonably good batting form.

He started well in the Caribbean Premier League this week albeit in a losing cause and the regional selectors as well as West Indies Head Coach Mr Stuart Law will obviously be watching his progress closely.

Of course, the balancing of experience and talented youth will be much in focus as the West Indies selectors ponder their squad for the World Cup in England. While Mr Gayle will be up in age another stalwart, Mr Marlon Samuels who was rested for the one-day games against Bangladesh but who played in the Twenty20 games will be 38. Curiously, Mr Samuels is not listed with any of the franchise teams in the current CPL.

We also note reports of a possible mending of relations between the West Indies Cricket Board and a number of estranged stars, among them former limited overs captain Mr Dwayne Bravo, who will be 35 come the World Cup.

As the selectors ponder age balance among other things in the build-up to the World Cup, they will be happy at the sensible decision to hold the 50-over regional competition in October this year rather than early in the new year. In the absence of any high-profile Twenty20 tournaments at that time, there will be every opportunity for those wishing to play for the West Indies to be available for scrutiny at the regional and domestic levels.

We look forward with interest.

All that said, the regional selectors will have been reasonably pleased with the results after two home Test series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Cricket-watchers can justifiably argue that but for inefficient cricket, the West Indies would have won the series against Sri Lanka which ended 1-1.

Yet the emphatic 2-0 victory over Bangladesh was satisfying, even if the West Indies batting fell short on occasions.

Most pleasing of all, perhaps, was that individuals showed solid growth, among them captain Mr Jason Holder and fast bowler Mr Shannon Gabriel. West Indies supporters will be asking for much more of the same in the months and years ahead.

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