ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

England v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Chennai

Sammy eyes Caribbean revival

Of the current squad, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul was around the last time West Indies beat England in the World Cup and Darren Sammy, the captain, hopes that this campaign could mark the turning point

Dileep Premachandran in Chennai

March 16, 2011

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Of the current squad, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul - barely old enough to hold a bat - was around the last time West Indies beat England in the World Cup. A few might have watched footage of what Vivian Richards, Collis King and Joel Garner did to England in that Lord's final of 1979, and Darren Sammy, the captain, hopes that this campaign could mark the turning point in the fortunes of a side whose fall from grace is one of sport's more sobering stories.

"It's massive for us as cricketers," he said on the eve of the England game. "We came here as underdogs and we've managed to stay focussed. If we manage to achieve our ultimate goal, it'll be a huge boost for the people of the Caribbean."

In what is undoubtedly the tougher of the two groups, West Indies were the team many expected to slip up against the lesser sides. Instead, they disposed of Ireland and Netherlands quite comfortably and gave Bangladesh the kind of pasting that the teams led by Lloyd and Richards were famed for.

In contrast, England have slipped on both banana peels placed in their path. If they fail to register a fifth consecutive World Cup win against West Indies tomorrow, their Phileas Fogg-like adventure that started last November with a flight to Australia will be over.

Sammy isn't someone you associate with mental-disintegration tactics, but there was certainly an element of sledge to his thoughts on where the English stand right now. "It's a good time to play them," he said. "They've been on the road a long time. I saw somewhere that they've had four days at home in the last five months. Maybe some of them want to go home to their families. You never know."

Darren Sammy in action in West Indies' practice session, Mohali, March 11, 2011
Darren Sammy has been vocal about his team's chances against England © Getty Images

On another grass-free and bone-hard pitch, West Indies are boosted by the return of Chris Gayle. Kieron Pollard has been their big-hitting star in recent games, but a Gayle special of the kind that flattened South Africa in a Champions Trophy semi-final (2006) is near inevitable at some point during the competition.

Sammy himself has excelled with the ball while disappointing with the bat. With Dwayne Bravo now back home nursing his injured knee, it's all the more important that he finds his scoring touch soon. "Every game we've played, one player stands up," said Sammy. "I'd like to think a big innings is around the corner."

Having lost every toss so far, he isn't unduly concerned about it, though it does look the sort of surface where you want to bat first. And while others, and Graeme Swann in particular, have been vocal about the dew factor in some games, Sammy wasn't fussed. "We've managed it quite well," he said. "You just get a towel and wipe the ball. Simple."

Swann is one bowler West Indies will need to be especially wary of though, with four left-handers in their top five. "He has been England's premier bowler," said Sammy. "No one can question what he's done over the last two years. But he's also human. We have batsmen capable of dominating."

The West Indies view Ottis Gibson's experiences as England's bowling coach as one more point in their favour - "He's aware of weaknesses and we'll look to exploit them tomorrow" - though they're unlikely to change the combination of Kemar Roach's pace and Sulieman Benn's spin that has worked so well for them with the new ball.

Having watched Imran Tahir excel against England at this very venue a little over a week ago, West Indies will no doubt be tempted to try a leggie themselves. "It's food for thought," said Sammy, "whether we should play [Devendra] Bishoo tomorrow."

After two devastating innings against "lesser" opposition, this is also Pollard's chance to show that there's more to him lucrative IPL contracts. "Kieron and I had a chat, about finding the best place for him," said Sammy. "We worked out where he feels most comfortable."

If England's bowlers fail to find their length, and bowl as they did against Ireland and Bangladesh, Pollard could literally hit them out of the competition. Even the pretty pagoda-like structures at the top of the new stands won't be safe.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Bobby on (March 17, 2011, 9:15 GMT)

Group A is far tougher with three world champions in Group A as Pakistan, Australia and SL. Group A also has probably the top two favourites AUstralia and SL along with Pakistan that can beat anyone. Group B only has SA that can win the WC. India is a team of over hyped impostors who have won zero match against a quality opposition so far. England has made a real mess. England as well as India might rue that Tied match as that can cost either of them a spot in QF. I back West Indies to win this match as West Indies and Pakistan are only two teams that have authentic flair and flavour....Bit like Brazil in WC

Posted by joel on (March 17, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

On a slow, low, turning pitch like this, you would expect the spinners to hit their stride. However, with the dew factor, finger spinners will quake in their boots. The answer? A wrist spinner. BISHOO MUST PLAY!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 5:40 GMT)

The thing you have to think about is even though they lost to Ireland and Bangladesh they beat South Africa and drew with India who are 2 of the best teams in the world. GO ENGLAND

Posted by Abhimanyu on (March 17, 2011, 4:32 GMT)

Pagla Baba (Mad Holy Man) makes interesting observations. But, remember no logic works here. Each game starts afresh - reset button applies.

Posted by Abhimanyu on (March 17, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

England needs to win this duel absolutely to entertain any hope of advancing. West Indies will like to win this game as well as that is the only way they can guarantee their entry into this WC's QFs. BATAILLE ROYALE - Allez-y les deux gueriers.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 2:59 GMT)

I hope they replace miller and play bishoo

Posted by sajjo on (March 17, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

please west indies give devendra bishoo a chance. drop nikita miller. miller has played 4 matches and not even taken 1 wicket yet (not even against holland, ireland, or bang). Logic tells u play 2 spinners so benn and someone else. Its obvious miller needs 2 go, pick bishoo

Posted by Hollis on (March 17, 2011, 0:41 GMT)

Skipper Sammy , we want total team effort and focus from the Windies, no drop catches , dynamic fielding and batting from all , few extras and dot balls and 300 plus runs. Fire on all cylinders from the start and help the tired England players go home to their family. England is no push over, but his is our time and our world cup . Gayle can spin so we need to omit a spinner; obviously not Ben.

Posted by Godfrey on (March 16, 2011, 23:48 GMT)

THE stats are against us. History also is against us. HOWEVER confidence is on our side. WI have a point to prove,and they will. SELECTION is important.I am a gambler and BISHOO is my man.HE IS a good leggie, and that is enough. I was saying give ROACH a rest, but maybe we should give SHIV a rest. ROACH RUSSELL, BENN, and BISHOO along with 260 run and we can win this one. WE will definitely beat INDIA I have no doubt about that. I have a large wager on that match. LETS see how it goes!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 21:49 GMT)

West Indies Need to be WIN, if thay loss and next will play against INDIA. i hope WI confirm Next stage. Bangladesh Gets advantage from WI. Chanderpaul and Sarwan can change the match. and power hitter POLLARD and Gayle play 25 overs England will out of the first round. I am very happy if England going out of 2011 wc. BYE BYE england!!!!!!!!!!

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Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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