When Trinidad & Tobago enjoyed a barnstorming run to the inaugural Champions League T20 final in 2009, Ravi Rampaul proved an able foil to Dwayne Bravo, who finished as the highest wicket-taker that season. Twelve years later, Bravo is a T20 phenom and Rampaul is still relevant in the shortest format as the pair get back together to lead West Indies' seam attack at the forthcoming World Cup in the UAE.
"My experience [with Derbyshire] will help [lead the bowling line-up] and there's Dwayne Bravo as well," Rampaul said, speaking from West Indies' base in Dubai. "We have a lot of guys who have been playing a lot of T20 franchise cricket around the world and we could feed off each other with our experience and when different situations in the game come up, we can come together and have a plan to go ahead."
Rampaul, who has been playing county cricket for a number of years as a Kolpak player, had marked his CPL return in 2021, with a chart-topping 19 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 16.21 and an economy rate of 7.96 for Trinbago Knight Riders. Fourteen of those 19 wickets came in the powerplay and the death in largely sluggish conditions. He was particularly potent during the field restrictions, giving up only 99 runs off 78 balls. Rampaul backs himself to bowl the tough overs for West Indies, too, despite being absent from the national team for almost six years.
"Yeah, definitely [see myself doing a top-tail role] for the West Indies," Rampaul said. "I've done a lot of practice bowling in the three areas of T20 cricket and whatever situation I've to play for the West Indies, I'll try to do my best. I strive on the tough areas of the game to come out on top. So, whatever situation I'm put under, I'll try to come out on top."
Multiple injuries have troubled Rampaul in the past, but the 37-year-old seamer felt that he is now in a better space to understand his body and work accordingly.
"With the experience gained, I know exactly what my body needs to perform. At a younger age, I didn't know and I just wanted to continue playing cricket every day," Rampaul said. "But, with the experience gained, playing over the years, I know exactly how I need to train - the sort of gym and running work I need to do, so with that experience right now, I feel I'm a bit better at preparing for more games that way."
Rampaul also pointed out that West Indies' vast experience would help them deal with pressure better during a fairly short, sharp tournament. West Indies will begin their T20 World Cup defence by playing three matches in six days across two venues against England, South Africa and a qualifier from the first round.
"I think going into big World Cup games, you would need experience," Rampaul said. "The team that was selected has a lot of experienced guys and a lot of young guys as well - guys that have played around the world in different conditions. We know that the games come quick and fast. The experienced guys, more so, will know how to manage themselves to play back-to-back games or play games every other day with recovery and getting stuff done. Yeah, the experience will help us throughout the tournament."
In the 2012 World T20 final, Rampaul had his moment when he sent Tillakaratne Dilshan's off stump cartwheeling for a duck, at the Khettarama, finishing as West Indies' joint-highest wicket-taker in that tournament. After disappearing from their radar, a fitter, stronger and wiser Rampaul has returned for another tilt at World Cup glory.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo