Advantage West Indies

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In almost every fantasy war game, there are core characters of a team capable of destroying an opponent team. There is the frail magician, a keen-eyed archer, a sturdy warrior, and of course a hero – You. Each character with its own specialty, strengths and weaknesses could well be utilised to advance to any level, without a cheat code. Moreover, they gain experience points, their finesse increases with new stages and so does your belief in them. The West Indies cricket team at this moment seems to be at level one of the above scenario. 

It seems to have a heady pack of fighters, and we say this from first-hand IPL experience of not too long ago. The boyish Sunil Narine has had the best Asian men tied up in knots with his unusual, often mysterious tweaks. He certainly evokes memories of Lankan Ajantha Mendis whose carrom ball was a matter of global cricketing research when he burst on to the scene, only to slightly fade or get the batsmen to accustom to his ways. The ‘doubt’ factor that Narine creates even in a Sachin Tendulkar is his biggest strength, the biggest asset Murali and Warne had till their last playing day.

Kieron Pollard is the warrior any limited over outfit would dream of having. And even if he proves his worth once in roughly five games according to critics, they know that his lusty batting can change the direction of a game and thereby a tournament. That said, he’s also been called incapable of performing beyond 20 overs but we’d like to believe this fine fielder can be an ODI legend too (if there’s anything like that left now.) A more consistent ‘savior’ of sorts has been the ‘freelancer’ Chris Gayle. That his presence adds steel to any outfit is beyond doubt, and if he sails into smoother weather with his Board, he could be the prodigy of a resurgent West Indian team.

The wild card of Dwayne Bravo too is a sharp weapon to have for an outfit touring England. That the all-rounder’s capabilities have been indispensible for IPL runners-up Chennai Super Kings is another matter, but his confidence and temperament can wreck a batting/bowling order on his day. Pity his averages (23 in batting and 30 in bowling) don’t say much but given his first fifty in 25 months last Tuesday v/s England, we hope he’s hitting form.

It’s easy to feel hopeful of the current West Indian squad not only because of its stars, but, much like the Indians a couple of years ago, even ‘the others’ who’ve been consistent performers. Consider the gentle pace of Ravi Rampaul, the wicket-taking habits of Darren Sammy or the experience of Marlon Samuels (coupled with his 40-plus batting average), the Carribeans make an outfit formidable enough to beat the Brits who’re minus the services of Kevin Pietersen.

With most of the above men still having half a decade of cricket left in them (assuming their relations with their Board don’t cut that short!), we’re looking at a fiery ODI outfit in the near future. After all, if any bunch is going to further the legacy of West Indian batting agro - coming down from Sir Viv and Brian Lara, it is the current one.

After turning the IPL into a scouting ground of sorts for talent, the Carribeans are also one of the favourites to lift the T20 World Cup. It will only take tours such as the ongoing one to England to test the mettle of this breed of cricketers. Even if they recreate half the grandeur than the legends of yore, it’ll be a treat to witness.

Pic credit: Cricinfo