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T2021 W/C: Grant-Perez wants Chris Gayle, Khary Pierre and Sunil Narine in well-knit WI squad

“[…] Khary Pierre is perhaps my surprise pick. He’s never expensive and, like Chris Gayle, has the ability to stop the haemorrhaging of runs. 

“He could be the silent sniper with the wherewithal to take out the best teams in the world…”

Anthea Grant-Perez, a recent graduate from the Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Communication Studies, selects her dream West Indies Team, as Wired868 continues its look forward to the T20 Cricket World Cup:

Photo: West Indies star Chris Gayle (centre) playfully blocks the path of England batsman Joe Root during their Cricket World Cup contest at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, England on Friday 14 June 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The prestigious and highly anticipated ICC T20 World Cup is just a couple of months away and West Indies will be the pre-tournament favourites. For the unpredictable Caribbean side, winning twice has been a great accomplishment; three times would be a charm. 

However, I would posit that such is the extent of the current WI cricketing riches, they won’t have to rely on luck. Ruthlessness, agility on the field and a genuine killer-instinct would surely set them apart as an elite and dangerous unit.

Before setting out my starting team, I want to discuss the individual performance dynamics.

Selecting the two opening batsmen is a no-brainer really, as these lads continue to impress with their intelligent stroke selection, consistency, and ability to score quickly, which is what T20 cricket is essentially about. Evin Lewis would perhaps need to lessen his aggression somewhat and increase his caution, in short, to bat smarter and, as a result, deeper into the innings. 

Photo: West Indies opener Evin Lewis plays a shot during the Third ODI against Australia at Kensington Oval, Barbados on 26 July 2021.
(via CWI Media)

Controversy surrounds Chris Gayle and there is debate around justification for having him on the team. Admittedly, the ageing Gayle is not as sharp as he used to be either in the field or at the crease. But the power-hitting left-hander comes with immense experience, having played many times in conditions such as are expected to exist in the UAE. 

What is more is that, in him, WI have a surprise bowler. Unorthodox in his technique, he can get wickets and slow the momentum of the opposing batsmen. 

And when it matters on the biggest stage, he has the capacity to shine. When he really turns the engine on and is at full throttle, he is as destructive as a runaway train. Even his naysayers are silenced. 

Shimron Hetmyer’s natural talent is undeniable and he is maturing nicely. Lodged between the two experienced older heads in Gayle and Andre Russell, the 24-year-old left-hander too can be dangerous once he plays strategically. 

Added to his experience, Russell is one of the best all-rounders in T20 cricket, potentially lethal with both bat and ball. He looks to be in form but is a bit sluggish, perhaps slightly overweight.

Photo: West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell.

His countryman, the athletic Fabian Allen, is an asset, a magnificent all-rounder and essential ammunition in the West Indies armoury. Ranked 12th in the world among T20 all-rounders, he is the envy of many teams and could eventually rise into the top three. He earns an automatic spot. 

Kieron Pollard is a born leader and his captaincy has been phenomenal. A carbon-copy of Gayle in terms of power, he’s earned his berth on the squad and, never guilty of the disastrous unprofessionalism displayed by Daren Sammy at the last tournament in 2016, he is tactful and has excellent communication skills. 

If WI are to come out of the Group of Death, all the batsmen will need to bring their A-game. Nicholas Pooran has the ability to make big scores but he will need to improve on his ability to finish well once he gets a start. 

The leg-spin of Hayden Walsh Jr can prove to be a WI trump card. He reads the game well, is consistent, seems able to take key wickets throughout the innings and can perform under pressure. Moreover, he also contributes with the bat and with his on-field gymnastics. 

Khary Pierre is perhaps my surprise pick. He’s never expensive and, like Gayle, has the ability to stop the haemorrhaging of runs.

Photo: TKR spinner Khary Pierre.
(via CWI Media)

He could be the silent sniper with the wherewithal to take out the best teams in the world. His unassuming and understated presence might mean misfortune, especially for big teams who are unaware of his abilities. Despite his small stature, he’s also handy with the bat and could be a game winner at the death. 

Pierre’s slow left-arm orthodox bowling adds balance to a spin attack comprising Walsh and Gayle backed up by the medium pace of Russell, DJ Bravo and Pollard and spearheaded by the man from St Vincent, Obed McCoy. The formidable 24-year-old pacer’s incredible speed along with his deceptive slow ball and subtle variations has brought him into the limelight as somewhat of a maverick. 

Bravo is a T20 star who cannot be ruled out of any game. Although listed among my extras, he can be rotated onto the starting XI. His prowess on the field is amazing and he adds stability to the batting order once he chooses to settle in. 

A brilliant wicket-taker who can also make a healthy contribution to the score, Jason Holder has not been in the best of form lately. He still earns a place among the reserves, his 6’7” height an asset on the boundary and his status as the number one all-rounder in the world also potentially intimidating.

Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder appeals during the Second T20I against Pakistan on 31 July 2021.
(via CWI Media)

A Narine whose bowling action has been cleared will be a force to be reckoned with. On his day, he is also a very good striker of the ball and so I would rotate him, like Bravo, onto the starting XI in place of Gayle. 

Sheldon Cottrell’s left-handedness is truly a vital asset and a nightmare for some batsmen but the soldier can sometimes be expensive. 

Jayden Seales performed relatively well in the series against South Africa but still has a long way to grow. As a reserve, he is a good choice. 

Left-handed batsman and right-arm fast medium bowler Sherfane Rutherford deserves a recall because he can be an element of surprise, especially in the middle order. He has a dogged, fearless, and never-say-die disposition. 

Finally, Shai Hope, whose pedigree is not in doubt, should be the stand-in wicketkeeper for Pooran because Andre Fletcher has had a disappointing season. Best suited for the One-day and Test formats, he can be quite useful in this format as well if required. 

Photo: West Indies opener Shai Hope on the go.

And that’s it! Intuitive rather than scientific. But time will tell if there is any substance to all the talk about a woman’s intuition.

Starting XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain and wicketkeeper), Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr, Khary Pierre, Obed McCoy. 

Squad #12-15: Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Sheldon Cottrell. 

Reserves: Jayden Seales, Sherfane Rutherford, Shai Hope (wicketkeeper). 

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One comment

  1. Earl Best

    I find that generally the ladies are soooooooooooo much more objective and dispassionate in making the case for the Universe Boss.

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    I hope we can get a few more pieces highlighting the very balanced views of the distaff side…