Team West Indies have decided to share the burden of defending the World T20 title. So, captain Darren Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson won’t be the only ones breaking their heads over plans or strategies. A delegation of responsibility means Chris Gayle is the batting leader, Ravi Rampaul is in-charge of the bowling unit while wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin will have a big say in field positioning.
So flexible is the West Indies leadership that in case the game situation demands Sammy to field on the fence, ODI skipper Dwayne Bravo, stationed closer to the action, will call the shots.
The plan to share responsibilities may not be unique to the West Indies squad alone, but skipper Sammy believes it will help every player to be involved in the game all the time. “The sharing of responsibilities give players a good idea of what is to be done on the field and everybody is clear about what is needed to be done and once you are clear in your head you can execute the plans better,” Sammy said. The team think-tank hopes that by having more brains at work, players will be able to work out ways to achieve consistency, a trait that is not associated with the team from Caribbean.
Between the final of the previous World T20 and ahead of the current one, defending champions West Indies have played 13 Twenty20 Internationals. Of these, they have won seven and lost six, one of which happens to be against Ireland less than a month ago. This win-loss record wouldn’t have inspired confidence in fans as West Indies arrived in Dhaka to defend their World T20 title.
A glance at how they won their title in Colombo nearly 18 months ago shows that West Indies had struggled with consistency even then. A couple of years ago, they beat England but lost to Australia and Sri Lanka. The two defeats pushed them to the brink and it was only a Super Over win over New Zealand that saw them qualify for the semifinal.
Shortest format success
However, they were a different beast from there on. They thrashed Australia by 74 runs in the semifinal and beat Sri Lanka in the final by 36 runs despite scoring just 137. They are eighth on the Test as well as ODI ranking tables, but in the Twenty20 format, where rankings matter little on any given day, the West Indies have found success. Their big six-hitters and wily spinners make them favourites for any tournament they enter. In Tests, they have lost four of their last five games, three of them being innings defeats. Former captain Clive Lloyd, exasperated by their lack of fight in the Tendulkar send-off Test series, said that the West Indies looked ‘drunk’ on Twenty20.
The win over Sri Lanka in the final of the previous edition, the success of the first edition of the Caribbean Premier League and the rise in the stock of West Indian players in the Indian Premier League have made the 20-over format central to their cricketing universe.
In Dhaka, they have been clubbed along with two previous winners from the subcontinent, India and Pakistan, and Australia, a side that can never be written off. But Sammy is confident of retaining the title.
Growth and experience
“I think we have grown as a team since the last edition. Our guys have more experience (playing in leagues around the world) and the belief is high,” he says. Last time around, the West Indies side believed they had the potential to win but didn’t want to get too ahead of themselves.
“It (the belief) is a little bit more vocal than it was in 2012. Last time we knew we had a chance of winning and we believed silently in the dressing room. This time we are not afraid to say we could go out and win that title,” Sammy said.