Gibson shifts focus to 2015 World Cup
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson wants his team to immediately shift gears towards the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year following a semi-final exit which led to them relinquishing their World T20 title to eventual winners Sri Lanka. Gibson was optimistic that his team could put forth a formidable charge at another global tournament, and has urged his troops to ride the wave of their impressive T20 form over the past few months.
"I've been speaking to Richard Pybus (Director of Cricket) about getting together a core group of players to target the 50-over World Cup, getting some fitness done and making sure those guys are at the peak of their fitness," Gibson said. "All those [series] are opportunities to start to formulate a team or a squad of players that will then become the basis of the team that is likely to play in the World Cup, and get those guys playing together as often as possible.
"It would give captain [Dwayne] Bravo an opportunity to work with this group of players and get a brand of cricket that he wants to play developed and strong, so that by the time we get to the World Cup next year, the guys are ready to peak again and have a real good go at winning a world title."
Gibson added that while a 30-man preliminary squad would be chosen to groom the final team, there was a sense of urgency needed in establishing the nucleus of the team as early as possible.
"You have to look at where we are going and then you look at the people that we have in the Caribbean that are likely to succeed in those conditions and give them the opportunity to play," he said. "You will have a World Cup 30-man squad but by now there will be a core group of 15-20 players that you will be looking to choose from and give opportunities to, and whittle it down. You have to get that 15-man squad playing as much cricket together as possible and start to develop some cohesiveness.
West Indies have not won the World Cup since the first two tournaments held back in 1975 and 1979. They exited at the quarter-final stage in India three years ago, reached the Super Eights at home in 2007, and were quickly dispatched out of the first round in South Africa in 2003. Despite their indifferent form in recent World Cups, Gibson said that there was 'a hunger inside the team' following their World T20 loss, which he hoped would spur the players on.
"I think the taste of winning a world title in Sri Lanka [in 2012] has given everybody a fantastic appetite for it [winning titles]. We know what it takes, we know it's going to take a lot of hard work and commitment to the cause and that's what we are starting to see now."
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here