Colin E. H. Croft
Last week, at Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad & Tobago, to see the end of T&T’s 4-day game v Leeward Islands, and to have a short meeting with Dr. Nigel Camacho, one of the head honchos of the new West Indies Retired Players’ Foundation, another man I had never met before said something especially profound.
All would probably remember that it was also Dr. Camacho, a tremendously talented individual who sometimes runs marathons, and is also my family’s dentist, who was one of the original guys who put together the first fully feasible travelling supporters club of West Indies cricket – “The Trini Posse!”
Our meeting went very well indeed and more would be available about this new venture for all past West Indies cricketers in the near future. I sincerely hope to be fully involved in WIRPF.
But what also focused me afterwards was what the stranger, neck tie loose, just having a relaxing late afternoon aperitif, shouted to us:
“Hey guys, I am sure that you know that if all West Indies players now at ICC World T-20 2014 in Bangladesh play to their full potential, West Indies cannot lose at all in this tournament!”
Paraphrasing that would mean that West Indies would successfully defend its 2012 championship in 2014!
Truthfully, pound for pound, that stranger was absolutely correct. If WI team really plays as it can, players having matured in the last two years since winning ICC WT-20 2012, then they really should not lose!
Today, Sunday, West Indies starts that defence against a team, India, which has already shown that they too mean real serious business.
India’s utter strangulation of Pakistan, in their Group 1 encounter, the same group that also contains Australia and Bangladesh, was like the web of spiders, or spinners, weaving traps that entangle batsmen!
“India’s spinners set up facile victory” screamed the headline on ESPN/Cric-Info. Pakistan never emerged from the silky entrapments spun by India’s spinners, the 2009 ICC WT-20 champions only managing 130 in their 20 overs, a run-per-over average of only 6.5, always way below par for India’s batting might.
How WI cope with “Man of Match” v Pakistan, Amit Misra, bowling right arm leg-breaks, googlies, sliders and top-spinners, and whose 4-0-22-2 v Pakistan included one very expensive over that cost thirteen runs, will be seen today, also exposing how adept present WI players really are to good spin bowling.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captaining the winners of ICC’s inaugural T-20 world competition 2007, has several weavers in his armory. Very much concentration would be necessary for WI to overcome them.
Left arm orthodox spinner Ravindra Jadeja was even more frugal v Pakistan; 4-0-18-1; showing that, as expected, spin will definitely play its main part for whichever team hopes to win this year’s competition.
Compounding that smothering web for India, tall off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, opening the bowling v Pakistan, also delivered snarling strings with his impressive adhesives; 4-0-23-0; really tight, sticky stuff!
Incredibly, India’s main spinners delivered 12-0-63-3, effectively snuffing out Pakistan’s batting life!
West Indies are extremely similar to Pakistan. Both teams play such mercurial cricket, majestically magnificent now, depressingly deficient then. Which West Indies team turns up is the big question!
No Pakistanis played to his full potential. Only Umar Akmal, 33 from 30 deliveries, looked close enough. Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi and captain Mohammad Hafeez all looked woefully ensnarled into India’s web.
WI batting line up today, down to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin and captain Darren Sammy, should read Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Ramdin and Sammy, all interchangeable, perhaps Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree as bowlers.
To date, WI main batsmen returns are as follows:
Gayle 37 T-20-I’s; 1096 runs; avg. 33.21; strike rate 140. Smith 22 T-20-I’s; 398 runs; avg. 18.09; s/r 133.55. Samuels 30 T-20-I’s; 748 runs; avg. 31.16; s/r 129.18. Simmons 25 T-20-I’s 587 runs; avg. 26.68; s/r 113.53. Bravo 44 T-20-I’s; 803 runs; avg.26.76; s/r 115.37. Ramdin 41 T-20-I; 334 runs; avg. 17.57; s/r 125.09. Sammy 47T-20-I; 362 runs; avg. 13.92; s/r 136.09. Russell 22 T-20-I’s; 140 runs; avg. 12.72; s/r 113.82.
Are those numbers good enough to beat India and its superlative spinners? Today we will know that!
Reading those numbers, one has to hope that today, as a West Indies supporter, that Gayle strikes the ball robustly, Smith muscles sixes regularly, Samuels caresses deliveries smoothly, and Ramdin, Sammy, Simmons, Bravo and Russell slog the way only they can, to get West Indies in the vicinity of 190-200.
Also, WI has spinners of its own, spinners who are truly world class too!
T&T’s spin twins Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine are considered world-wide as highly, if indeed not more so, as Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez or India’s Ashwin, Misra and Jadeja.
So, this first encounter for West Indies, v India, can be described, like that old cartoon, as “spin v spin!”
If India win today against West Indies, they are almost through to semi-finals. West Indies must therefore play to their full potential to pick up where they left off in 2012, on that winning streak. Enjoy!
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