Winning, senior players key to new path as T20 series bowls offWednesday, March 03, 2021
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — West Indies have identified winning as their main priority ahead of their three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Sri Lanka starting here today, with Captain Kieron Pollard pointing to recently recalled senior players as crucial to these plans.
Selectors, last week, handed a shock recall to 39-year-old fast bowler Fidel Edwards who has not played a single international in nearly a decade, and also summoned 41-year-old opener Chris Gayle, who has not featured for West Indies in almost two years.
And with the likes of 37-year-old Dwayne Bravo and 36-year-old Lendl Simmons also in the 14-man squad, along with the well-travelled Andre Fletcher, West Indies are not short of experience as they begin a campaign that will climax with the defence of their T20 World Cup title in India in October.
Speaking on the eve of the opening T20 International at Coolidge Cricket Ground, Pollard reiterated the value the veteran players brought to the squad, noting that younger players had not taken full advantage of the opportunities afforded them since the last T20 World Cup five years ago.
“Some of the younger players would've gotten opportunities when we started off from 2019 [when I became captain] and it hasn't produced the results we would've wanted on a consistent basis,” Pollard told a media conference yesterday.
“Guys were still in and out because of non-cricketing reasons and stuff like that, and these [older] guys continue to perform despite their age…and once you show you can perform at the highest level and the franchise level, the opportunity is still there.”
He continued: “I think as a team we need to start to win cricket matches, we need to start to win series, because we can go down the line of just thinking about blooding talent but [the media] will still talk about results at the end of it as well.
“So we have to strike that balance, and we have to start to win cricket matches. We're the defending champions of the T20 World Cup and we have to get into that habit, and if it's a case of having extra or more senior guys in the team, as well, to start that process, then so be it.”
Despite the presence of the veteran players, a couple uncapped players will have the chance to prove themselves with 27-year-old, left-armed spinner Akeal Hosein and 21-year-old off-spinner Kevin Sinclair included.
Trinidadian Hosein made an impressive one-day debut in the recent three-match series away to Bangladesh, while Sinclair has shone in the regional domestic white ball tournaments.
Left-armed pacer Obed McCoy, who played two T20 Internationals two years ago, has also gained a recall, and Pollard believes the presence of the vastly experienced players along with the rookies, presented the ideal mixture for West Indies.
“For us, we're excited to have certain individuals back, we're excited to have the younger guys as well trying to get that opportunity,” Pollard explained.
“I think the way to go forward is having that kind of mixture in the team, where you have youth and experience [and] the youthful guys can learn from the experienced guys. These are some of the things that have been missing throughout from 2016 till now.
“Can we safely say we've put out our best T20 team to go to any series? There are always different things happening in the midst of it, so we have to start somewhere and this is the starting point for us.
“We have about 18 games plus a whole CPL [Caribbean Premier League)] before the World Cup, so guys can get opportunities, and we can see where we need to be come October. As the coach said, we still need to win cricket matches while we go through that process and that's the way we're going.”
West Indies have had a torrid time in the shortest format in recent years, winning only five of their last 20 outings to slip down the International Cricket Council's team rankings to 10th.
They ended 2020 with a 2-0 battering in New Zealand, but Pollard said past results were now behind them as they looked forward to a fresh beginning.
“We haven't spoken about what transpired in New Zealand but it is what it is; that's done and dusted. I'm a big believer in dealing with what's in the present, right now, and obviously this series is very, very important,” he stressed.
“It is the first home series for a while and we have some new personnel in the team…so it's just a matter of trying to gel together as quickly as possible. We just came off a Super50 tournament, so it's about getting into the groove of T20 and an international series.”
Today's contest will be played under lights beginning at 6:00 pm.
WEST INDIES – Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabien Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair.
SRI LANKA – Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Ashen Bandara, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Akila Dananjaya, Hasaranga de Silva, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Oshada Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Suranga Lakmal, Dilshan Madushanka, Angelo Mathews, Kamindu Mendis, Ramesh Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan.
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