Santokie ready for the big stage
Krishmar Santokie is hoping that his Man-of-the-Match performance over England in the second T20 victory will be enough to force him into the West Indies starting XI come the World T20 title defence in Bangladesh.
Santokie claimed 4 for 21 and proved very troublesome from the onset via a disciplined spell that pegged England to 21 for 2 by their fourth over after electing to bat. West Indies edged home in a close five-wicket win to seal the series and Santokie said his confidence had grown and he was ready to be thrust on to the big stage.
"I've only played four games so far but let's hope after this performance, I can be a consistent performer in the team," Santokie said. "I bowl wicket-to-wicket as most batsmen like to free their hands so I keep it close to the batters, not giving them any width. Making my debut [against England] a couple years ago, it was good to come back and play them again and win the Man-of-the-Match. It was fantastic."
With Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo again struggling for economy, Santokie said he felt no extra pressure coming to the fore against England. He said despite his lack of international inexperience, he was not intimidated and said that he wanted to improve the versatility of the team to boost their chances of repeating as World T20 champions.
Santokie said the key to his strong performance was spending a lot of time assessing the pitch conditions and also studying footage of the England batsmen, something he has focused on since being recalled to the team.
"I wouldn't say there's extra pressure [on me] because we have a good all-round team," he said. "All our players have their part to play and so do I, if given the opportunity. I just need to remain confident and be positive at all times. After watching the first game on Sunday, I got a few ideas and watched some videos of the batters so I have an idea of how to bowl to them - the areas they like and the areas they don't. I just made sure I bowled in the right areas today."
He said that Samuel Badree's early pressure on the England batsmen reduced the boundary count which allowed him to persist with slower deliveries to stymie England's charge. Santokie also added that batsmen viewing him as a bowler within the medium-to-slow end of the spectrum often proved to his benefit.
Santokie said it was "very disappointing" to have missed out on T20 opportunities in the past for West Indies despite "performing over and over" but said he was now eager to grasp any available opportunity. He was the leading wicket-taker and Player of the Tournament in last year's inaugural Caribbean Premier League with 16 wickets and was labelled as "the best bowler that isn't playing West Indies cricket" by his coach, Curtly Ambrose, with the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
He said he found no difficulties in making the transition from the regional to international stage via several domestic seasons playing against the likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith. "I've played for the West Indies Under-15 as well as Jamaica's Under-15 and Under-19s and also, for the last five years in the Caribbean T20," Santokie said. "I also played club cricket in England for six years and from all this cricket, I don't see any problem moving to the international stage. It's about how you go out there and perform on the day."
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here