The Australians are masters of the mind game so allrounder James Faulkner only continued a tradition by stating that he didn’t ‘particularly like’ his side’s opponents for Friday, the West Indies. “There are a few players I would like to knock over and more importantly I’d like to beat them,” he said.
The comments, made on the sidelines of a training session, were aimed at trying to get under the skin of the defending champions, with whom Faulkner has shared a poor relationship.
Last year, Faulkner was fined for abusing Chris Gayle when he dismissed the West Indian opener. This was during Faulkner’s debut series in Australia. Gayle is likely to remember the incident as well as Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin’s comments that he was not worth the money Sydney Thunder had paid for him in the Big Bash.
Gayle is nursing niggles and hence missed training on Thursday, but a West Indian team official said that the Jamaican would never miss a match against Australia. “After all the blah, blah from their side, Gayle will definitely play this game. He is a big-unit, so he has to be looked after. He is the Shaq O’ Neal of our team. But a game against them he wouldn’t miss,” the official said.
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy chose to remind Australia about the previous meetings between the two teams, a 2012 World T20 match which the West Indies won by 72 runs.
“I think the last time we played them in a World Cup we all know what happened. If anybody should be talking probably it is us. So far in this tournament we have not played to our full potential. Once we do that, we will be very destructive. We were destructive in that semifinal of the last World Cup,” Sammy said.
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Sammy was dismissive of Faulkner’s comments and challenged the Tasmanian to back his words with performance on the field. “The Australians normally have a lot to say. It does not bother us. Talk is talk. We have got to walk the talk out there.”
The match assumes significance for both sides because only two teams progress from each group and both sides have already lost a game so far. West Indies lost their opening match to India, and in spite of beating Bangladesh, are not guaranteed to advance. Australia, come into this game after losing to Pakistan, and can’t afford a second successive loss.
Neither side has played its best cricket in the tournament so far. The West Indian batting fired against Bangladesh, but when faced with a disciplined Indian bowling attack they struggled to post a challenging total. Glenn Maxwell had used the sweep and the slog-sweep to blast 74 off 33 against Pakistan but once he was dismissed the rest of the batsmen struggled on a slow wicket. They will face plenty of spin on Friday, especially from Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree.
The exchange of words preceding the game will only be an added incentive because no love is lost between these two sides.