It’s been a long title drought for the West Indies. What does winning the World T20 mean?
Winning this tournament was a lift that the team needed. For all those people hoping that the West Indies cricket would rise again, let’s hope this is turning point.
What were your realistic expectations from the team before the tournament?
I expected them to do well. We are one of the most explosive sides around. Out of the 15 big hitters in the world, six belong to our team. They are all phenomenal strikers. It gives them impetus on the field. They know they can go out there and dominate. That’s what they must do in the longer version too. Apart from Chris Gayle, we have Samuels (Marlon) who’s growing in confidence in both Tests and ODIs. We have a couple of good spinners and decent fast bowlers, basically an attack that can dislodge any opponent. We’re close to being quite a balanced side.
The core of the team is the same. What has changed?
They are gelling together. They seem to be quite happy when they go out there. Nothing seems to faze them. And they’re showing purpose. You have got to give credit to the captain (Darren Sammy), for he has got them playing as a unit. Don’t forget he has been under pressure too. In the long run, we’ll find out how good he is. So far he has done marvellously well.
How do you think Marlon Samuels has come along?
From the England series onwards he has done well. You can see that he’s concentrating a lot more and making his wicket difficult to get. You realise he’s not going to gift it. He is batting in a position where you need to be solid. And Samuels is solid.
Much was expected from the West Indies after their Champions Trophy win in 2004. Yet, they didn’t progress as well as they would have liked...
This looks a much better squad than the one in 2004. They have been together for quite a while now...like playing in the IPL. They seem to be strong-willed.
But is winning a T20 title truly an indication of how good a side is?
It isn’t really, but the win suggests that we can be a good ODI outfit. This is the start, the impetus that we needed to excel in the longer version.
Are Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine ready to operate in tandem?
Well, I hope so. I’m sure that’s what the thinking will be in the future. At least we have two spinners who are able to confuse the batters. In the longer format, we’ll know how good they are. In the one-day game, I don’t think too many people will attack them and be successful. Reminds me of our times. We had Inshan Ali, he was a left-armer. We had Imtiaz Ali, although he was a leg-spinner. And then Dinanath Ramnarine (the leg-spinner who became part of the the West Indies Players Association).
Chris Gayle’s showing in the World Cup...a kind of an apt reply to those keen on his ouster?
Chris just wanted to be back. He looks a really happy soul. Once he is happy, I’m happy. He creates that force and sort of generates the warmth needed for team spirit. I don’t think he’s giving the establishment any problems. They had one little spat. But he’s really a decent fellow to work with.
Given Gayle’s strike-rate (at times close to 200), how can he be so consistent?
If you watched his knock against Australia, he paces his innings to a nicety. He’s strong and has good eyes. He treats even the quicks with disdain. They are scared of bowling to him.
What areas must be addressed if the Windies are to be a force to reckon with, at least in ODIs?
First, they will have to identify who are their ideal ODI players and who are the Test cricketers. Someone like Kieron Pollard can do the kind of job Andrew Symonds did for Australia. Pollard is explosive and can be a handful down the order. We have enough bowlers to choose from — both pace and spin. Now is the time to move on to the next level.
Realistically, what can this team achieve?
They can do as much as they like. They are young and have everything before them. They can make this a golden period.
Perhaps, being one of the top three ODI teams to start with?
Why, I’m hoping they’ll be No 1 shortly.