Not since the days of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards have the West Indies entered a tournament and have tongues wagging as they have now. The men from the Caribbean will open their World T20 campaign against Australia today in Sri Lanka and they will be favourites in this clash. Imagine that—Darren Sammy’s boys coming up against the men from Down Under and being touted as favourites. In fact, the West Indies are one of the favourites to go on and claim the silverware in this tournament. At least on paper, they have probably the strongest team in the series. No country in this tournament can boast of four Indian Premier League stars. Chris Gayle is by no stretch of the imagination the best batsman in this form of the game. Keiron Pollard is actually the most destructive batsman in T20 cricket, while Sunil Narine, fresh from winning the IPl Player of the Series crown, is also exceptional. Added to the trio is Dwayne Bravo one of the best all-rounders in this form as well.
India would have everyone from their team on IPL teams, obviously, but they are all not stars as the West Indies’ boys. The biggest problem facing the regional side lies between the earlobes. They need to be mentally strong and go out there and believe in themselves. They have to act like champions and execute their game plan ruthlessly. There will be no better signal to the rest of the competition than to go out there and give the Aussies a serious licking today. One of the English commentators speaking during the Afghanistan/England clash said the West Indies team is frightening to look at on paper. Added to the IPL stars, you have the very destructive Dwayne Smith and the very nippy Andre Russell. Fidel Edwards is again bowling well and with the pitches surprisingly giving some encouragement in Sri Lanka, he could prove to be a handful. His pace partner Ravi Rampaul is one of the best bowlers at the end of the innings which is so crucial and spinner Samuel Badree who boasts the best econ rate among bowlers who have bowled more than 300 balls.
Looking at the history, West Indies crashed out without a win in 2007, losing to South Africa despite a Gayle century and then falling to Bangladesh. They were far more impressive in 2009, reaching the semifinals, and when all the focus was on the threat posed by Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and the unreadable Ajantha Mendis, they were undone by the fourth M, Angelo Mathews, who grabbed three wickets in the first over of the chase. At home in 2010, it was a familiar tale of failure as West Indies were eliminated in the Super Eights, with their batsmen managing only one score above 30 in the entire tournament. West Indies’ Twenty20 results this year have been patchy: Gayle bulldozed New Zealand in the two Twenty20s in the USA, they were comprehensively beaten by England in a one-off game in Nottingham, and they shared a two-match home series against Australia. Their only Twenty20 so far in the subcontinent was against Bangladesh last October, which they lost. So it is time to finally put paper to work and show the world that we are champions and give the West Indian fans, so long starved for success, something to be proud of. Good luck guys, the movement starts today.