West Indies ready for title defence - Gibson
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson thinks his team is ready to retain their World T20 title in Bangladesh. Gibson believes that despite losing the final T20 against England, the 2-1 series win was a pleasant indicator as to his team's current standing. He deemed England the perfect litmus test for him and his management to gauge the squad going into their title defence.
"These three games were an indicator as to where we are as a group," Gibson said. "It's been a great series for us. We know it's going to be a tough job to retain the trophy but the team is in a good place at the moment. We know what it takes to win the tournament. We just need to look after the basics of the game that need to be applied but we're more than capable of retaining. The batting's in a good place and that's very important."
Gibson downplayed the loss in the last T20 as a setback as he drew "a lot of positives from today just like the other games."
"We wanted to win all three games and it's been a long time since we've won three on the trot in any format," he said. "We came with the intention to sweep the series but England came really hard at us in the first ten [overs] getting over a hundred. Then we pulled it back in the second ten by limiting them to sixty or so. Even though we lost, we had players like [Chris] Gayle resting and we decided to give [Sheldon] Cottrell a chance to get themselves into the T20 atmosphere."
Gibson said that while he was disappointed with his top-order capitulating today, their batting strength was something he thinks other teams will be wary of when the tournament starts. "Our batters are in form and gelling. They're eager to settle and acclimatise and we've got two warm-ups against England and Sri Lanka," he said.
Andre Russell, who struggled in the series, is part of Gibson's plans too and he suggested the allrounder could be an ideal replacement for Kieron Pollard. "Russell had a great CPL and as you know, we're missing Pollard so we're trying to give Andre the opportunity to fill the Pollard role but we have to give him time to grow into the role. We believe strongly in Russell and that he has the the capability, the game and the power to do that job," he said.
Gibson also admitted that their spin attack would be "the most massive part" of their arsenal as he tagged Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine as "outstanding" but also warned opponents not to underestimate his seamers such as Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo. He said that their wealth of experience would prove advantageous and also touted Krishmar Santokie as a big addition to their pace attack. However, Gibson said that the team would need to work on their fielding as it proved a troublesome area for them, which was exposed in this series.
"I'm confident we'll be ironing out our kinks in time for the tournament and we think the conditions there [in Bangladesh] will favour us so we'll tweak and assess. It's time to analyse some more in the important areas. I'm not too perturbed with players like Gayle and Badree who are resting little niggles but we've no serious injury concerns. We have the experience and we're going out there to play entertaining cricket. We're ready," he said.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here