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T2021 W/C: Hope, Hetmyer, Walsh are in Persaud’s WI dream team but Simmons out starting XI

“[…] My opening batsmen will be Evin Lewis and Shai Hope. I say with utmost confidence that no one will argue with my selection of Lewis to lead the charge. The left-handed opener has the proven capability to destroy any bowling attack that he may be faced with.

“The right-handed Shai Hope has the ability to bat deep into the innings and to rotate the strike, just the qualities Lewis needs in an opening partner. Hope can also, if required, deputise for the regular wicket-keeper…”

Forbes Persaud, who was Mr Schools’ Cricket for donkey’s years before he became TTCB secretary and chief executive in 2005, shares his dream West Indies Team, as Wired868 continues its look forward to the T20 Cricket World Cup:

Photo: West Indies opener Shai Hope on the go.

A ‘series of glorified fete matches.’

If that looks familiar, it’s because, earlier in this series, Warren Thompson described a T20 tournament that way. He did not fail, however, to emphasise that ‘its drawing power and its lucrative cash–pull through television marketing and so on have not escaped the attention of the International Cricket Council (ICC)’.

Thompson took the words right off of my keyboard; I am in total agreement with him.

Be that as it may, the stage is set for the start, in a few weeks’ time, of the game’s biggest international T20 tournament, organised by the world governing body for cricket, no less. It is supposed to tell us which is the best T20 team in the world. It might but it also might not.

In my view, Test cricket and ODI results stand in stark contrast to the outcome of a T20 game; in the latter, the result simply tells you who were the better team on the day. Literally. My point is that, in a T20 game, there is always the possibility that some lowly XI with no pedigree can get the better of any of the top dogs on any given day.

Photo: West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara pulls for four against England at the Oval, London on 4 September 2000.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Adrian Dennis)

Not so in Tests and ODIs, where it is a very different kettle of fish. In the longer versions, there are many factors to be considered when looking at how the eventual outcome was shaped: more mental preparation is required, strategic plans can be made for individual players, there is time to recover from any mistake/s made, there is time to find a fix.

That is why I believe that, as CWI and WI prepare for the upcoming global ‘Big Bash’ that promises to keep much of the sporting world’s attention focused on it, special emphasis must be placed on a peculiar WI problem: the number of dot balls WI have grown accustomed to piling up in an innings. That number reached 48, yes, 48! in one of our recent international matches.

Do the math. Forty-eight dot balls. That’s eight full overs out of a possible 20. Utter madness. If this is not addressed before we get to the UAE and Oman, crapaud smoke we pipe. Believe you me.

Anyway, let me stop ‘playing expert’ and stick to the task Wired868 has assigned me. My mandate is to select a squad of 18 players for the T20 World Cup, a starting X1, four benchmen and three reserves. So here goes:

Photo: West Indies opener Evin Lewis blasts for six runs during the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on 10 March 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)

My opening batsmen will be Evin Lewis and Shai Hope. I say with utmost confidence that no one will argue with my selection of Lewis to lead the charge. The left-handed opener has the proven capability to destroy any bowling attack that he may be faced with.

The right-handed Hope has the ability to bat deep into the innings and to rotate the strike, just the qualities Lewis needs in an opening partner. Hope can also, if required, deputise for the regular wicket-keeper.

The number three spot will go to Shimron Hetmyer. An outstanding fieldsman, the left-handed Hetmyer was once threatening to become a slogger A-class. However, in recent times, he has shown that he is prepared to garner a lot of his runs not by depending mainly on big hitting but by reducing the number of dot balls against his name. As already noted, that is an important and welcome development.

Numbers four and five are Nicholas Pooran and skipper Kieron Pollard. Who comes first will be determined by who is at the other end at the time since I would like to see us maintain a left-hand/right-hand combination at the wicket whenever possible and feasible.

Photo: West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard prepares to dispatch a delivery.

I go for Jason Holder as number six. The former Test captain has a solid track record and all the technical qualities required to be in my starting XI.

An accomplished batsman who has the ability to be explosive, Holder has a level head on his shoulders and is able to adapt his game to any situation in which the team finds itself. He is also an outstanding fieldsman, a major requirement in this format of the game. And his 6’7” frame is often an asset in front of the boundary ropes.

There can be little or no argument with Andre Russell being at number seven. A match-winner, Russell is an asset to any team and, on his day, he can instil fear of (self-)destruction into the hearts of any bowling attack.

Slots eight and nine go to Dwayne Bravo and Fabian Allen. Both players are fantastic all-rounders and capable match-winners. The game situation will determine which will take to the crease before the other.

When quick runs are needed, I would not hesitate to go with the 26-year-old Allen ahead of the 37-year-old ‘Champion’ DJ.

Photo: Fabian Allen celebrates after blasting West Indies to triumph in the Third T20 International against Sri Lanka at the Coolidge Ground, Antigua on 7 March 2021.
(via CWI Media)

The penultimate position is given to leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr and left-arm fast bowler Obed McCoy brings up the rear; nobody who has watched the WI performances over the last few months needs to be told why. This pair have made their places on the starting XI as safe as Lewis’ and the skipper’s.

This team, I believe, is well equipped with the necessary artillery to successfully defend the world title. There is batting enough to overhaul any target set and firepower enough to set any opposition an unassailable one.

The bowling attack is well-balanced, McCoy, Bravo, Holder, Russell will serve up quick stuff while Walsh and Allen respectively offer right-arm and left-arm spin with the potential to grab important wickets at crucial points in the game. Pollard has recently shown that he can fill in both as seamer and as economical off-spinner if the need arises.

With Chris Gayle in the squad but not in the starting XI—Alzarri Joseph, Akeal Hosein and Lendl Simmons are the other three on the bench—this side is also a superb fielding unit with no obvious weaknesses in that department.

So I don’t see anybody stopping WI.

Photo: West Indies spinner Akeal Hosein (centre) is congratulated by team captain Kieron Pollard (left) during the Second ODI against Australia on 24 July 2021.
(via CWI Media)

But history has shown that WI don’t always need somebody else to stop them; they are quite capable of doing it themselves.

Starting X1: Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, DJ Bravo, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr, Obed McCoy.

Squad #12-15: Chris Gayle, Alzarri Joseph, Akeal Hosein, Lendl Simmons

Reserves: Sheldon Cottrell, Sunil Narine, Andre Fletcher.

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4 comments

  1. I would leave out Andre fletcher and bring rovman power very strong finisher and big hitter and I would also add Rutherford and leave out Sheldon Cottrell. His bowling is too expensive

  2. Something wrong with that, what are shai hope credentials as compared to simmons? the latter is one of the most feared openers in twenty overs cricket. only Gayle is perhaps more feared.

  3. Hi Earl,

    Goodafternoon! It has been ages. It feels really good to touch base. I trust all is well. You are doing a fantastic job. I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles.

    The question here “is the West Indies playing it’s best players on the Test team?

    Best wishes

    Theo

    • Mr President, A sweet blast from the past. You just walked out of our lives as if you had jumped off the planet.

      Please send an email address and a telephone number to Lasana at lasanal@wired868.com so Forbes and I can reestablishcontact with our beloved brother.