ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Bangladesh v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Group B, Mirpur
Richardson feeling very confident about West Indies
Sidharth Monga in Dhaka
March 2, 2011
Think Richie Richardson and a few quintessential images immediately come to mind. The wide-brimmed maroon hat that refused to give way to a helmet. The cut. The real, violent cut. The hook. That was Calypso. And then there is another image: of Courtney Walsh, last man in, who should be looking to take a single, bring back Richardson on strike, but who goes for an extravagant shot, and is bowled, leaving West Indies five short of a tie that would take them to the final of the 1996 World Cup. That's the story of the match West Indies should have won easily; the whole lot of them play irresponsible shots. There are three balls to go still, and Richardson has no partner left. That sadly is the enduring Richardson image.
"I have some good ones. And I have some not-so-good-ones," Richardson said of the memories of the last World Cup in the subcontinent. "I feel that at one stage we were playing well enough, and we would have beaten Sri Lanka in the final had we gone through. I was a bit disappointed, I have to admit, when we were beaten by Australia in the semi-final. I thought that we relaxed too much." And you wonder if this cannot be said of West Indies cricket in general ever since. Relaxed too much.
"We had Australia to beat at several moments during the match, and we relaxed and allowed them to come through and win the match. I was very disappointed because of that, but that's history now, and we are focussing on what is ahead of us. I am just hoping that the guys continue playing positive cricket, and we can beat every single team that comes up against us."
To listen to his press conference is to be transported back to West Indies' heyday, so bullish and full of confidence is it. They are in Mirpur for what - barring other upsets - is effectively a quarter-final playoff against Bangladesh. It is a game that doesn't have them as favourites according to the ICC rankings because for the first time they are ranked below Bangladesh. One loose game - and they are used to loose games these days - and they could find themselves out of the tournament. Richardson, though, is talking about winning the cup that counts.
"To win every single match, that's my target. To win the World Cup," Richardson said. "I am very confident that we can win this World Cup. I am very positive. We are playing positive cricket, the guys are improving every day, and I am feeling very, very confident."
There is an old West Indian inclination of sort of saying, "Oh conditions are tough? We have Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, Patterson, Richards, Greenidge, Richardson."
Tell him about the threat the hosts' spinners present. "We are ready to tackle any opposition, any spin attack, any pace attack, any team. We are prepared to take them on. We are positive and intend to go out there and play positive cricket."
Tell him the hosts will lay a low and slow track, something West Indies are not likely to write to Santa Claus for. "It's always difficult playing against a home team on their turf. Obviously they know the conditions really well, and they have the home support. [However] We have beaten people all over the world, so we are not worried about that."
Tell him his side has never played at Shere Bangla National Stadium. "We have gone places in the past where we have never played, and still do well. I don't think we are going to worry too much about it. We have practised here for a couple of days. As I said before, it's how quickly we assess the conditions, and how well we go and play."
All that doesn't come at the cost of respect for their opponents though. "Every match is a challenge. Every team is difficult," Richardson said. "We are not taking any team for granted. Playing in Bangladesh is a bit tough, but we believe we have the ability, and we certainly have the belief now that we can beat Bangladesh."
The last time they played Bangladesh, West Indies, albeit a depleted and a run-down side, could win just one Twenty20 in more than a month, losing both the Tests and the ODIs. That series doesn't play on the team's mind, said Richardson. "We are not looking at it as revenge. This is the World Cup, and we have to play well to win. We have to win matches in the qualifying round to make it to the quarters, so we are just taking it as very important and trying to win."
There has been a lot of talk about where West Indies are placed in the ICC rankings. Jamie Siddons, Bangladesh's coach, set the ball rolling before the tournament started, saying that West Indies were a side they were expected to beat. "It doesn't matter who is favourite," Richardson said. "What's important to me is, we go and play to our ability. If we do that, we can beat Bangladesh, that's what I am interested in."