“[…] I strongly feel the under-rated off-spin of the ‘Universe Boss’ will be a back-up weapon and will work in WI’ favour.
“I am bold enough to predict that [Obed] McCoy will emerge as one of the leading wicket-takers in the tournament. He is one of the most improved bowlers in the game today while on his best day [Hayden] Walsh Jr could prove to be a handful as he has been doing in the recent contests against Australia…”
Former Trinidad Guardian sport editor Valentino Singh shares his dream West Indies Team, as Wired868 continues its look forward to the T20 Cricket World Cup:
The recent decision by the ICC to allow the addition of seven players to the squads for this year’s T20 World Cup suggests that Roger Harper and his West Indies selection panel will have a simple task, picking a squad of 22 players for the event to be played in the UAE and Oman, starting in October.
I am sure that barring ill health, WI will not use 22 players, even if they do get to the final on November 14.
In fact, I would be surprised if the West Indies used more than 15 players during the tournament.
The core, of course, selects itself, the final list coming on the heels of performances in the recent series against Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia in which the WI blundered against South Africa, losing that series 2-3 with an indifferent batting performance.
Before and after, both Sri Lanka and Australia were swept aside in a total of eight matches with WI’ penchant for throwing away winning positions haunting them in one game against Australia—whom they eventually beat 4-1 in a series which they ought to have swept.
On the evidence of those three series, I expect WI First X1 players for the opening game of the tournament to be the following (in batting order):
1. Evin Lewis, 2. Lendl Simmons, 3. Chris Gayle, 4. Shimron Hetmyer, 5. Keiron Pollard (captain), 6. Nicholas Pooran (vice captain), 7. Andre Russell, 8. Fabian Allen, 9 DJ Bravo, 10. Obed McCoy, 11. Hayden Walsh Jnr.
That team bats down to Bravo at number 9.
The bowling responsibilities reside with the youthful and fast-learning pacer Obed McCoy, leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jnr and left-arm orthodox spinner Fabian Allen as well as the experience of the deceptive Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard.
I strongly feel the under-rated off-spin of the ‘Universe Boss’ will be a back-up weapon and will work in WI’ favour.
I am bold enough to predict that McCoy will emerge as one of the leading wicket-takers in the tournament. He is one of the most improved bowlers in the game today while on his best day Walsh could prove to be a handful as he has been doing in the recent contests against Australia.
Gayle, incidentally, is as vital to the team as is Bravo, both for their presence on field and, perhaps more importantly, their reverence off it, in the dressing room.
Gayle is also a back-up to the openers as Evin Lewis’ fitness has been a major concern over his career. This calls for cover for both of them and I am batting for (12) Shai Hope.
I recognise that Harper and company see no Hope in the T20s but instead opt for him in the ODI and Test teams. But, apart from batting at the top of the order, he is also my back-up wicket-keeping option.
I wish I could make a case for Darren Bravo at three. At his best, he is the finest. Unfortunately, he looks lost at the moment and needs to find some momentum soon. He is not in my 15-member squad.
Carlos Brathwaite (13) is my next pick. Do you remember the name? Harper and company appear to have forgotten it. But he is a shoo-in for Andre ‘Dreyruss’ Russell, who is yet to convince me that the rigours of international competition will not re-open old injuries.
I believe Brathwaite still has what it takes to match Dreyruss on his best day and he has been having some success with the bat in recent times. He may be forgotten by the current men in the hot seat but, just as he did against England in 2016, I believe he is capable of a repeat.
I am going to add (14) Cottrell as a fast bowling option and, of course, no current West Indies 15-man squad could be complete without the indomitable (15) Jason Holder, the only player to earn a WICB contract in all three formats of the game. Deservingly so! No one will challenge that.
Is that group capable of making it a hat-trick for the region?
Of course it is!
That squad is chockful of talent, experience and spirit. On its best day, the batting is intimidating. The bowling is as good as any and anyone
Choosing to underestimate it does so at their own peril.
The fielding is absolutely breath-taking while the team is being led by one of the most knowledgeable men in the format, ably assisted by an engine room with an abundance of wisdom and men who know how to win.
Do I think they will win? I do!
I predict these men will bring the trophy back to the Caribbean.
The last seven appear to be included with the future in mind but in reality there is no one else to select.
Or is there? Hold your breath!
Harper and company still have a wuk to do!
Starting XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Christopher Gayle, Shimron Hetmeyer, Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice captain), Andre Russell, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Obed McCoy, Hayden Walsh Jr.
Squad #12-15: Carlos Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder.
Reserves: Darren Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will publish its next T2021 Cricket World Cup preview on Monday 2 August 2021. Click HERE to read Francis Warner’s dream XI.
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