“[…] I am going to play chief chef and put together 18 ingredients that should make a mouth-watering dish come 17 October. My major challenge is whether I should include, for different reasons, Christopher Gayle and Sunil Narine: one is definitely available but should I?
“If both are available, would I?”
As Wired868 looks forward to the T20 Cricket World Cup, contributor Francis Warner selects his dream West Indies XI—and 18-man squad—for the occasion:
Test cricket is my number one format; chicken paratha with mango, pumpkin alloo and channa is my favourite meal. Since 26 June, however, I have been treated to a spectacular fare of buss-up-shot!
My taste buds have been titillated with a feast of West Indian T20 matches; by 14 November, I hope my taste buds blossom into the maroon flower of a contented WI stomach.
Hopefully, the mandatory deadline by which the West Indian selectors must present their squad to the ICC does not pre-date the end of the 2020 CPL. Ideally, they should use that tournament, which runs from 26 August to 15 September, to do their final tweaking of the squad for the 17 October to 14 November ICC T20 World Cup.
There is no substitute for time out in the middle. Cricket West Indies must be commended for having organised three relatively back-to-back series against South Africa (26 June – 3 July), Australia (9-16), and Pakistan (27 July – 3 August).
All things being equal, the CPL, a delicious full-course meal in itself, will be the icing on the cake as the selectors should have all World Cup aspirants on show. Additionally, the final squad selected would have spent ample time in the middle, an ideal appetiser for the World Cup.
I am going to play chief chef and put together 18 ingredients that should make a mouth-watering dish come 17 October. My major challenge is whether I should include, for different reasons, Gayle and Narine: one is definitely available but should I? If both are available, would I?
In the well-stocked WI larder, I see almost 40 items. Here they are:
- Batsmen (11): Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, *Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, *Evin Lewis, Sherfane Rutherford, *Lendl Simmons, Chadwick Walton.
- Wicketkeeper/batsmen (2): Shai Hope, *Nicholas Pooran.
- All-rounders (11): *Fabian Allen, *Dwayne Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite, *Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Sunil Narine, Keemo Paul, *Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, *Andre Russell, Romario Shepherd.
- Spinners (6): Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Ashley Nurse, Khary Pierre, Kevin Sinclair, *Hayden Walsh Jr.
- Pacers (7): Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Alzarri Joseph, *Obed Mc Coy, Anderson Phillip, Jayden Seales, Oshane Thomas.
The asterisks indicate the players constituting the 11 essential ingredients for the pot; they form the nucleus of the side. The other four to make up the 15 will be Narine, DM Bravo, Gayle and Joseph.
Narine is a proven match-winner with bat and ball. Playing with KKR in the IPL, he will get, crucially, much-needed time in the middle at the same venues for the World Cup. And once, playing with TKR in the CPL, he gains confidence in his reformed bowling action, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
What a gourmet meal, Narine and Walsh in tandem!
Darren Bravo has not had much time in the middle and, after his long sojourn in the Cameron Wilderness, is still rusty. Inexplicably, after being selected for the 5th T20 against Australia, he was dropped way down the order to number 8 and was not really given a chance to bat.
I expect that in the CPL where he will get a lot of matches under his belt, he will regain his confidence and his sublime touch. When on song in the regional tournament, he has consistently played match-winning innings and there is the added bonus of his having been a Test match batsman.
Among the pacers, Joseph gets my pick. Thomas has genuine pace and swings the ball late and I wish that I could have him in my squad. But he simply has not progressed as he should and he could prove a liability.
Cottrell has been a trusted soldier for West Indies but, with the rise of McCoy, the other left-hander, he is no longer first choice. His bowling has in recent times been somewhat inconsistent and he doesn’t have sufficient pace to be a threat. I wish there were a place for him…
In the shorter versions, Joseph bowls with reasonable pace, gets movement with the ball and has been fairly accurate. As the first ODI against Australia has shown, he is quickly learning his trade. His improved lower-order batting has raised his stock even further.
The 41-year-old Gayle is obviously the most controversial choice. There are so many valid reasons for omitting him: his age, his inconsistency, his sluggish fielding, his slow running between the wickets, his keeping out a younger player, and the fact that in previous major tournaments he has played one, maybe two, extraordinary innings, then boiled down like bhaji.
On the other hand, he is so explosive; he is the greatest T20 player of all times; he is still feared by the opposing teams; he has clearly worked on his fitness, fielding, and running between the wickets. His bowling, as seen in the recent T20 series against Australia, will be a valuable resource, especially on the pitches in the UAE.
The intangibles of his experience on the field and his immense presence and influence in the dressing-room are invaluable. And, of course, if he is indeed rounding into form, his batting is always an X factor!
Some have had to be left out. Fletcher is unreliable, I hope that King will one day fulfil his obvious potential. Sinclair, Shepherd, Paul and Rutherford will get their opportunity and Brathwaite is so experienced and dangerous but he has fallen off.
Along with DJ Bravo, Gayle, Joseph and Narine, the expertise, experience and excellence of captain Pollard, Russell, DM Bravo, Simmons, Lewis and Holder, coupled with the exuberance and explosiveness of Pooran, Hetmyer, Allen, McCoy and Walsh Jr, make us a well-balanced, dangerous outfit.
With this West Indian squad, I hope on 14 November we’ll be regaling ourselves with a repast of roti, pepper-pot, flying-fish and coocoo, ackee and saltfish, etc.
And whoever else has the misfortune to be in the final, WI will eat them raw!
This is how we play the game!
Starting XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Kieron Pollard (captain), Andre Russell, Fabian Allen, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jr, Obed Mc Coy.
Squad #12-15: Darren Bravo, Christopher Gayle, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph.
Reserves: Sheldon Cottrell, Akeal Hosein, Oshane Thomas.