World Cup Preview: West Indies

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In the first of our new series previewing the 2011 World Cup, Blaise Murphet looks into the chances of the West Indies, following the announcement of their squad.

In news that will shock nobody, the West Indies have announced an extremely talented side to head to the World Cup in the subcontinent. Like so many Windies teams in the past fifteen years, this squad holds an extraordinary amount of promise, but it is completely unsure whether they will even make it into the second phase of the tournament.

Joining captain Darren Sammy in the squad are names such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne and Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Shiv Chanderpaul, Kemar Roach and the returning Ramnaresh Sarwan. However, whilst this list represents a potentially outstanding core, the West Indies are likely to be as brittle as ever. Much of the problem stems from the problems surrounding central West Indian contracts, which seem to be less than assured, and have seen key players represent T20 franchises before the national team. Furthermore, a lack of comptetitive cricket in recent times, partly due to a washed out series in Sri Lanka, means that the Windies have had hardly any time to ‘gel’ as a unit.

Another prospective problem, as noted by cricinfo, is the recent form of key player Ronny Sarwan. Once a mainstay in the team, Sarwan has been out for a time with injuries and poor form. Although he is now over 30, Sarwan is still one of the key players, averaging over 43 in ODI’s. The plight of the team is further hindered by the bowling stocks, which do feature Roach, but also include the likes of Ravi Rampaul and un-tried Andre Russell (hardly names likely to make top batsman shake in their collective boots). It remains a mystery to me why Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor remain out of the side, but if you paired them with Roach and the fine spinner Sulieman Benn, you would have a very respectable bowling line-up.

These problems aside, the Windies could still prove to be competitive. It’s a tired cliché, but on their day they can beat anyone. It is a long time since Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne hit the winning runs to give the Windies the 2004 Champions Trophy, but with the right amount of luck, and astute planning and selections, there’s always an outside chance that they could find themselves holding aloft a major trophy again.

West Indies Squad: Darren Sammy (cpt), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh (wk), Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shiv Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath

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