Dubai: West Indies have been a dominant force in world cricket at different times in the history of the game, but in recent times the Caribbean islanders have probably hit rock-bottom after missing out on the 50-over World Cup in India cricket for the first time in 13 editions.
The two-time champions also bowed out of the Qualifiers stage in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, raising questions about the players’ commitment to national colours and instead choosing franchise cricket across the world. But West Indies Twenty20 team skipper Rovman Powell had a different take on it. He said franchise cricket, in fact was the lifeline of West Indies cricket.
“You have to remember that cricketers are from small income earning families and after cricket people have to take care of themselves. The franchise cricket provides that opportunity for the West Indian players. Having said that the guys also have to just keep on improving and hoping to draw the West Indies selectors’ attention and also franchise teammates,” Powell, who is playing for Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10 at the Zayed Stadium, told Gulf News. The West Indian all-rounder has also played for Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League and Dubai Capitals in UAE's ILT20.
Immense pool of talented players
The Caribbean Islanders are the most preferred choice for their flair in shortest format, which has given them an immense pool of talented players. But when it comes to playing for the West Indies, they fail miserably.
“As individuals, we play some good cricket around the world. We just have to try our best to put it together as a team when we play for the West Indies. That has been a struggle for quite some time now, but when you look at our franchise performances, we are good players. In the West Indies clothing it just seems to not work. As players we have to ask ourselves why,” he said with a tinge of disappointment filling his tone.
However, the 30-year-old Barbados all-rounder is confident doing well in the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in West Indies and USA in June next year. “Not playing in the 50-over World Cup has left a bitter taste in our mouth while sitting at home and seeing West Indies not being at the 50-over World Cup. And last year when we were playing the World Cup qualifiers, things just didn’t go according to plan. Then as a team, we went to Zimbabwe for the 50-over World Cup and just struggled as individuals and as a team. It was heart-wrenching to see us not make it to the World Cup. Having said that, I think strides are being made to make sure that we’re at the next World Cup,” Powell said.
The West Indians showed that they are looking to put their best foot forward when they defeated England in the first One-Day International at North Sound with skipper Shai Hope leading a calculated assault and his magnificent, unbeaten century powered West Indies to a thrilling four-wicket victory on Sunday.
Set 326 for victory, captain Hope anchored the Windies reply and then produced some savage hitting to guide his team home with seven balls remaining, finishing on 109 not out.
Highest-ever ODI chase
Hope smashed three sixes off the penultimate over off the hapless Sam Curran to reach three figures and seal victory.
It was West Indies’ highest-ever ODI run chase against England, surpassing the 286 they managed at Lord’s in 2004, and their second highest against any opponents.
England were hoping to put their World Cup failure behind them and when West Indies slumped to 213-5 in the 38th over it appeared that they were in control.
But Hope, in partnership with the explosive Romario Shepherd, turned the match on its head as they put on 89 in 51 balls for the sixth wicket.
Another reason for West Indian batters’ downfall is that they try to play the aggressive cricket, irrespective of the situation they are in. That might work in Twenty20 format, but when it comes to 50 overs, they should be able to shift gears according to the needs of the situation. Hope’s knock against England is a classic example of how one needs to wait for the opportunity. The home captain anchored the effort through an unsteady period to open up towards the end to complete his 16th hundred.
England, who also recently shifted to the all-out aggressive mode, suffered a massive reversal of fortunes in the 50-over World Cup where the defending champions failed to make a mark in Indian conditions.
Powell feels there is no need to alter their approach and will surely catch up with the rest of the world.
“We should continue the same way. But while we continue to be aggressive in our approach, we have to just keep on building on partnerships. What we’re seeing is cricketers have a lot of power, but if we can get a little bit smarter, a take some singles and twos, we’ll catch up on the rest of the world,” he concluded.