Tongues are wagging and fingers busily tapping on all kinds of devices as cricket fans worldwide express their views on the composition of the respective squads for one of cricket’s biggest tournaments, the T/ 20 World Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and neighbouring Oman in October and November.
The competition, an offshoot on the International Cricket Council’s 50-over World Cup, but over 20 overs, will be the seventh staged since its inauguration in India in 2007, and much interest will revolve around whether reigning champions the West Indies, can not only retain its title, won in 2016, a feat no other winner has managed, but also to become the first triple holder of the champions’ trophy, following its victories in 2012 and 2016.
All the teams scheduled to take part in the tournament have named their squads and, as expected, there has been much reaction from all quarters, including the Caribbean. This is to be expected given the high hopes among Caribbean fans that their beloved West Indies team can at least retain dominance in the one area of global cricket that they are still champions.
There is a lot of nostalgia surrounding the team given the longing of Caribbean cricket fans for another global trophy. That is reflected in the composition of the squad named which contains veterans of the calibre of captain Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons. Clearly, the Windies’ hopes of another trophy lie largely with this hugely-experienced quartet. Some fans and journalists have been questioning though, the inclusion of Gayle. For all his dominating past, his form, 227 runs in T/20s in 2021 from 13 innings, hardly justifies his inclusion.
By contrast another veteran, recalled fast bowler Ravi Rampaul has earned his place on the basis of his showing in the recent CPL, in which he was the leading wicket-taker. Together with the wily Dwayne Bravo and emerging Vincentian star, left-armer Obed McCoy, ace all-rounder Andre Russell, and the speedster Oshane Thomas, they make the Windies very competitive in the pace department and should make enough inroads on which the spinners, Fabian Allen, Hyden Walsh and Roston Chase could capitalize.
Walsh, outstanding earlier in the year, can consider himself lucky to be selected after losing his form in the CPL and so too can Darren Bravo, dubbed by some critics as an “old boys club” pick though he is only a travelling reserve. Critics also question too the inclusion of another reserve, left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell ahead of young Dominick Drakes, while on the other hand, Trinidad left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein must consider himself unlucky not to be in the playing squad.
It was unfortunate though to hear political leaders joining in the criticisms of the team but on grounds that sounded very nationalistic.
With Pollard at the helm, the Windies will be the forefront of favourites, but one wonders whether there is too much reliance on the “old guard” and whether, but for the outstanding Evin Lewis, the suspect batting can bring rewards.