Home / Volley / Cricket / T2021 W/C: WI have explosive batsmen and wily death bowler, but large boundaries can be factor

T2021 W/C: WI have explosive batsmen and wily death bowler, but large boundaries can be factor

“[…] No fewer than eight of the 15 players chosen, namely Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, captain Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Fabian Allen, have repeatedly proven themselves to be fully capable of winning T20 matches on their own, with their very powerful, often destructive batting. 

“[…] However, the Oman and UAE venues are extremely hot while the grounds have very large boundaries. The former will certainly test the fitness levels of the West Indies’ older players while the latter might, just as importantly, diminish the boundary hitting capabilities of the West Indies batsmen…”

Veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira and Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt offer a SWOT Analysis of the West Indies team, as Wired868 continues its look ahead to the T20 Cricket World Cup:

Photo: West Indies opener Evin Lewis smashes a leg-side boundary during the third T20I against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT Analysis is, therefore, a tool that is often used by businesses for measuring and evaluating their abilities to successfully achieve a specific objective. 

Over the next few weeks the attention of all Caribbean cricket fans and followers is likely to be firmly focused on Oman and the UAE and the West Indies team’s quest to retain its ICC T20 World Cup title. As such, we thought that a SWOT Analysis of the team’s chances for success would now be most timely.

Despite all the justifiable criticisms levelled at the selectors over some of their choices for the final 15 members of the T20 World Cup squad, the West Indies’ ‘strengths are as numerous as they are obvious. First off, there’s the immense available talent in both batting and bowling. 

No fewer than eight of the 15 players chosen, namely Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, captain Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Fabian Allen, have repeatedly proven themselves to be fully capable of winning T20 matches on their own, with their very powerful, often destructive batting. 

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard gets stuck in to Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on 3 March 2021.
(Copyright CWI Media)

Based on his performances in this year’s recently concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Roston Chase has also demonstrated that he may be quite capable of playing the Marlon Samuels-type ‘innings stabiliser’ role that was such a crucial part of the West Indies’ success in their two previous title wins in 2012 and 2016.

As far as the bowling is concerned, Dwayne Bravo’s inclusion in the squad has also equipped the West Indies with one of T20 cricket’s very best death bowlers. Bravo’s vast experience and indisputable success in bowling during the crucial final overs of opponents’ innings will serve as a foundation for the squad’s other exciting bowling talents to work around.

The likes of Obed McCoy, Hayden Walsh and Oshane Thomas should all benefit from sharing duties with as experienced and skilled a campaigner as DJ Bravo.

Indeed, the squad’s overall T20 experience is also readily available as an identifiable strength. Between them, Gayle, Bravo, Pollard and Russell have collectively played more T20 international matches than some of the entire teams that will be participating in the upcoming World Cup. 

Photo: West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo celebrates the fall of another crucial wicket in T20 international action against South Africa.
(via CWI Media)

More importantly, as a direct result of their vast experience, they are now fully equipped with the knowledge as to exactly what it takes to win major championships such as a World Cup!

There is, however, an old adage which suggests that your greatest strength can often also be your greatest weakness. The flip-side of the experience coin is the advanced age of many of the members, with almost of the team—Lendl Simmons, Gayle, Pollard, Russell, Bravo, and Ravi Rampaul—now well past their thirtieth birthdays and on the downside of their mountainous careers.

So the advanced age of the West Indies squad is one of its major weaknesses. So too are doubts about the fitness levels of several key players, Gayle and Rampaul in particular, as well as injury concerns and questionable match readiness of Russell and McCoy, both of whom were inactive recently owing to injury.

West Indies’ 2021 T20 World Cup fortunes may well be determined by which of its identifiable strengths or weaknesses prevails during any of the seven matches they will need to play if they are to regain their title. 

Photo: West Indies cricket players (from left) Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Daren Sammy and Andre Russell celebrate their World T20 cricket tournament final win over England in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.
(Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

The extent to which individual squad members can utilise the opportunities presented to them during the World Cup may also prove to be a major factor.

Given his advancing age—at 42 he will be the oldest player in the tournament—and declining performances of late, the inclusion of the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’, Gayle, was understandably highly controversial. 

Gayle’s last 20 international T20 innings for West Indies produced scores of 12*, 1*, 16, 7, 21, 1, 67, 13, 4, 11, 5, 8, 32*, 13, 16, 0, 5, 15, 18 and 0.

The World Cup will, however, now  provide Gayle with a perfect opportunity to silence all his critics and detractors. 

Pollard indicated that Gayle will be given a special role to play during the World Cup. So too we imagine will be some of the younger players like Lewis, Hetmyer, Pooran, Allen, Walsh and McCoy, each of whom will now have opportunities to further and fully display their obvious immense talents to an estimated global audience of billions.

Photo: Iconic West Indies batsman Chris Gayle in attacking mode.

There will also be a few palpable threats to the West Indies’ successful defence of their title, foremost among which will be the prevailing climate and playing conditions for their scheduled matches.

The Oman and UAE venues are extremely hot while the grounds have very large boundaries. The former will certainly test the fitness levels of West Indies’ older players. The latter might, just as importantly, diminish the boundary hitting capabilities of the West Indies batsmen, forcing them to rely instead on rotating the strike, which has not historically been a strength of their T20 batting.

In England, South Africa and Australia, the West Indies face very formidable first round opponents, all fully capable of identifying and exploiting the existing weaknesses in the West Indies’ batting, bowling, and even fielding. 

To progress beyond the preliminary round, the West Indies will most likely need to defeat two of those three teams along with the group’s two remaining teams. 

Photo: West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer hits out during T20 action against New Zealand at Bay Oval in Tauranga on 29 November 2020.
(Copyright Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Their success will very likely be determined by the extent to which they can fully utilise their strengths, mitigate their weaknesses, make the absolute most of the available opportunities and counteract the existing threats.

As they embark upon their campaign to successfully defend their T20 World Cup title, the West Indies squad should also know that every genuine fan and follower—including ourselves—will be cheering them on to every success. 

Go, West Indies, go!

 

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