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T2021 W/C: Lord sees value in Cottrell, Fletcher and Narine for WI dreams; but wary of dot balls

“[…] I want at least six bowlers in my XI; you never know when somebody will have an off-day and be offering lollipops to the opposition like if it’s Christmas or Easter or somebody’s birthday.

“[…] If Sunil Narine is available—he is featuring in the CPL so…—there is no chance I will leave him out. It is true that, with his refashioned action, he is not the Sunil of old, who would take a bag of wickets and not give away any runs; but he is still a class act. They don’t make them like that anymore…”

Photo: TKR spinner Sunil Narine bowls during CPL action against the St Lucia Zouks on 8 September 2019.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Shenelle Lord, a bowling all-rounder who made her debut bowling off-spin for Trinidad and Tobago in 2008, selects her dream West Indies Team, as Wired868 continues its look ahead to the T20 Cricket World Cup:

Like many cricket people I know, I think that the West Indies squad for the World Cup in the UAE and Oman in October/November picks itself. All we really need to discuss is the starting XI, the batting order and the strategy and tactics we need to adopt depending on who we are playing against.

My sense of order says that we should start with the openers but I prefer not to. I want to jump in the deep end and say why Chris ‘Universe Boss’ Gayle will not be in my starting XI.

Those who watched the first few CPL matches carefully will agree with me, I think, that the problem with West Indies batsmen in short format games is that they don’t believe in the value of singles. They feel we have to play big shots and score fours and sixes—even when there is no scoreboard pressure.

Photo: West Indies batsman Chris Gayle (centre) tees off on the Pakistan bowling during their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group B match in Christchurch on 21 February 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2017/William West)

Last Sunday morning’s TKR vs St Lucia Kings game was a very good example: one side used up 60 dot balls, I read somewhere, and the other side three less. That is almost 20 overs—half the match—without a run scored.

Well, I don’t think that makes sense. Since I was small, I know that drop by drop yuh does full bucket. But if anybody told Gayle that, he does not seem to believe it. Not the Gayle of 2021 anyhow.

So he is in my squad. But he can’t get near the starting XI.

For the same reason, I had to think long and hard before I eventually decided to leave out Shai Hope. I do not think his power game is destructive enough to get maximum benefit from the Powerplay. But more than most, he knows how important it is to keep the score moving by getting small runs off the good balls. He will also punish the bad balls when they come along.

I think everybody has noticed how much progress Shimron Hetmyer has made recently with keeping the score moving. So I do without Hope and send Hetty at number three so we can strengthen the bowling.

Photo: Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman Shane Hetmyer on the attack through the offside during CPL T20 action against SKNP at Warner Park on 29 August 2021.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

If Jason Holder, who is one of the top all-rounders in the world, cannot get a place higher up in the batting order than number eight, I think we are doing something right where batting is concerned.

I want at least six bowlers in my XI; you never know when somebody will have an off-day and be offering lollipops to the opposition like if it’s Christmas or Easter or somebody’s birthday.

With four genuine all-rounders in the XI and Fabian Allen fast becoming another one, we should be pretty alright. But I want the insurance of an out-and-out quick who will give me 100% every day.

The four options are, in alphabetical order, Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph, Obed McCoy and Oshane Thomas. I’ll take the first, a left-hander, and the last, a right-hander, for the starting XI and the squad respectively and put the other left-hander in the reserves.

Alzarri misses out. I think his batting is improving rapidly and his day will come. But right now, Allen looks to me like a better bet as a potential ‘genuine all-rounder’.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots bowler Sheldon Cottrell salutes after claiming another wicket.
(via CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

If Sunil Narine is available—he is featuring in the CPL so…—there is no chance I will leave him out. It is true that, with his refashioned action, he is not the Sunil of old, who would take a bag of wickets and not give away any runs; but he is still a class act. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Allen gets the nod as my second spinner of choice. I prefer his more economical left-arm orthodox variety to Hayden Walsh’s right-arm wrist spin. On his day, Walsh will get more wickets but when he is off, he can throw the whole team off. Still, I want him in the squad in case we come up against a team we think are unlikely to be comfortable against wrist-spin.

So it’s the reserves for Akeal Hosein, whose batting is not yet as good as Allen’s although his bowling definitely is.

Before I forget, let me say that the reason I choose Andre Fletcher. Fletcher to open ahead of Lendl Simmons is may a woman thing; Simmons disappointed me too many times in the past for me to make him my number one or number two man.

Photo: TKR opener Lendl Simmons loses his wicket during CPL 2021 action against Barbados Royals.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

A few words about the captaincy. I watched Pollard in charge of the West Indies over the last few months and I am watching him again in the CPL. I think he is a much better captain than Holder was and I think we will see that play out in the CPL, where TKR will be in the play-offs and the Royals will not.

In short format cricket, captaincy matters. The make-up of this starting XI is such that the captain has to be prepared to move people around in the batting order according to the situation of the game. It is the only way we are going to produce the best possible result from every game.

Getting out of Group One which also contains Australia, England and South Africa will require us to bring our A-game for every match. Capitalising on every opening and making windows into doors will be an important key to success.

In addition, everybody knows that defending champions have targets on their backs. We have to be vigilant and do everything in our power to ensure that we do not shoot ourselves in the foot.

Or in the back, foolishly falling victim to friendly fire.

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard will be key to the team’s performance at the T20 World Cup.

Starting XI: Evin Lewis, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Kieron Pollard (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Sunil Narine, Sheldon Cottrell.

Squad #12-15: Shai Hope, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr,

Reserves: Chris Gayle, Akeal Hosein, Obed McCoy.

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