Pressure of IPL adequate preparation for World Cup players — CWI

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Cricket West Indies (CWI) says it does not anticipate any disruption to the squad's preparation for the ICC World Cup due to the scheduled late arrival of key players from the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Seven players, led by talismanic vice-captain Chris Gayle, only joined up with the West Indies squad last Saturday for the pre-tournament camp at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, after completing their IPL stints.

This meant that Gayle, along with all-rounders Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite, batsmen Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran, along with fast bowler Oshane Thomas, all missed the just-concluded Tri-Nations Series in Ireland — West Indies' last one-day assignment before the World Cup bowls off May 30.

But unlike several other cricket boards which opted to recall its players early from the IPL, CWI Chief Executive Johnny Grave said the Caribbean body believed the high-profile Twenty20 tournament served as adequate preparation for the World Cup.

“Playing in the IPL and playing in front of millions of people watching on TV, thousands of people in packed stands in big stadiums, many people will say that in terms of preparing for World Cup — where the eyes of the world are watching you and the stadiums in England from my understanding will have capacity crowds for all games — some people will argue the IPL is better preparation than just sort of warming up or playing games where maybe the context and the pressure isn't quite the same,” Grave said in a radio interview here.

“We also took the view that it was important that rather than disrupt what was happening in Ireland, we would leave that squad with real clarity that they were playing in all the games.”

The 15-man World Cup squad gathered in Southampton last weekend to begin their final preparation for the one-day showpiece, which runs until July 14.

West Indies will climax the camp with a warm-up match against defending World Cup champions, Australia, before heading to Bristol where they take on South Africa on May 26 and New Zealand two days later, in official warm-ups.

Grave said CWI had factored rest for the IPL players into their planning and had also added the fixture against Australia to the schedule, to ensure these arriving players had sufficient ODI practice in the build-up to the World Cup.

“We've also said to the players 'you've been in India for almost two months, we'll let you come back into the Caribbean, come and spend a week with your family and friends and recharge' because again, the World Cup is no short tournament — it's not a couple of weeks,” Grave explained.

“It's almost two months in the UK and nine internationals plus these three friendlies that we've got, so we're fairly confident. One of the reasons why we lined up the extra warm-up game against Australia was to just ensure that the IPL players themselves had enough match preparation.

“Hopefully they will be adequate for our players and hopefully we can sort of manage the workload and make sure everyone is in top nick, in top form when it comes to the first game at Trent Bridge.”

There had been concern in certain quarters about the West Indies IPL players being allowed to arrive just two weeks before the side's first game against Pakistan on May 31 in Nottingham.

Players like Russell and Lewis have now not played a competitive ODI in nearly a year while Brathwaite, who featured in the home series against England in March, played in just two matches in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders.

Grave said the decision to allow players to fulfill their IPL contracts was an attempt by CWI “to find the right balance” between national representation and franchise cricket.

“When I joined Cricket West Indies there were a number of players who had chosen not to play for West Indies … and [director of cricket] Jimmy Adams and I sat down with the players over probably the first six months of us joining and spent a lot of time listening to them and we agreed we would give players a window to the IPL and a window to CPL,” the Englishman explained.

“In terms of us building trust with the group of players, it is really important we stuck to that. New Zealand have taken the same approach and it has worked well for them previously.”

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