ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Netherlands v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Group B, Delhi
West Indies look to convince the sceptics
Firdose Moonda in Delhi
February 27, 2011
The West Indies squad formed a circle around the small field where they were going to do their fitness drills in Delhi. Two players took turns standing in the middle and hurling an inflated ball at their team-mates, who had to get out of the way or get hurt. They squealed and squirmed and amid the protests most managed to avoid being blasted in the end.
Not so when they are not in training.
The squad has been playing a figurative dodgeball with the media since the mid-90s and most times they get stung hard. Most of the international press don't have any positive feelings about the side, their ability, their commitment, their desire and their skills and nothing the players can say will change their minds. Those critics don't want justification, they want crucification, a forum to tell the men from the Caribbean, time and time again, that they have failed their predecessors and are simply not good enough.
This time it came as an accusation when a reporter said the West Indian batsmen were not prepared for South Africa opening the bowling with a spinner in their World Cup match on Thursday. "We were not caught off guard," Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain said. He was, of course, challenged on that statement. Why was Chris Gayle out after three balls if they weren't surprised? "These things happen in cricket," Sammy explained, before he attempted to justify further. "The second wicket pair put on a partnership of over 100."
None of it mattered, because the hyenas wanted more. The West Indies had only scored 222 in their first match of the tournament and hadn't even been able to bat out all fifty overs. The Netherlands, who they will play on Monday, managed to bat out their full allotment of overs and post 292 against England. Dodge that one, Darren.
"They put on a good batting display against England. We saw how England bowled to them. We've been practicing hard in the nets. Our bowlers did their best defending 223 but we need a better batting and fielding performance."
Ah yes, that's what they want to hear: the West Indies admitting that they have to try harder and that they need to do more and that's it going to be difficult for them to do that. Already, the last part of that is fact because they are missing premier allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who injured his knee in the match against South Africa. "He covers two options for us, with bat and ball," Sammy said. "The other allrounders, and I am one of them, will have to put up their hands and put performances in on the field."
Sammy gave little indication suggesting who may replace Bravo. Having seen the South African spinners perform well on the Kotla pitch, he said that Nikita Miller "has a strong case for coming into the starting XI." That will leave them a batsman short given the lack of penetration in their attack, it may be more beneficial to have the extra bowler.
Bravo's loss is going to present the West Indies with this puzzle for the remainder of the tournament, they'll have to continually "rethink combinations" and will need to be able to rely on the top order batsmen like Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo even more than usual. It's a massive setback in their attempt to dodge more claims of incompetence, but it's one they are determined to turn into a positive. "Dwayne's injury will be an inspiration for us," Sammy said. "We've seen him give his heart for the West Indies and we are going to do the same."
It's a nice thought but not one that has anyone convinced that West Indies are serious about what they're here to do as could be heard from the snide sneers when that comment came out. Sammy became more serious, trying his best to put across that the knockouts are still in his team's sights. "Everyone in this team is responsible. We know what to expect. This is a must-win game for us."