Six months before the 2017 Champions Trophy, West Indies found themselves on the 9th position in ICC’s rankings, which meant they didn’t qualify for the tournament. It was the first time that the Windies were not in an ICC tournament.
West Indies’ downfall in the ODI format began after losing to the Kiwis in the 2015 World Cup.
Things worsened for them on their tour to England as they were whitewashed 4-0 in ODIs. Series defeats to New Zealand, India and Bangladesh followed and due to this, they had to make their place in the World Cup through qualifiers, which they eventually did alongwith Afghanistan.
In this dull period, West Indies had some great moments to cherish, but in other formats. “Champions, Champions” echoed everywhere when they showed the world how good they were in the shorter format. They also chased a 300+ score vs England in 4th innings of a test in England but the ODI team was still struggling to make any impact.
However, their results over the past year or so have been encouraging and they’ve started peaking at the right time. We look at a few factors which could ultimately decide how well West Indies do at the World Cup.
Return of the Universe Boss
He is 39. He can’t run those singles as good as you expect cricketers to. But boy can he smash the ball like he has some kind of hatred for it. The six-hitting machine came back in the best of the styles when he made 135 against England in Barbados which included 12 sixes. On top of that, he made scores of 50, 162 and 77 in the next 3 ODIs with 39 sixes. When you can hit ’em that big with that much ease, why put your hamstrings on the line with those ones and twos?
THE EXCITING DUO
One can doubt whether he’s a West Indian or not seeing Shai Hope dissecting the two fielders with an air of finesse but that tiny disbelief will disappear when he’ll smash the next ball into the cow corner. Recently against Bangladesh, he was the top-scorer with 297 runs in three matches and 250 runs against India in ODIs. He also scored 170 against Ireland in the Tri-series.
The new batting sensation, Shai Hope, possesses all what is required to survive in the modern day cricket and will be a player to keep your eyes open, popcorn ready, TV tuned and its volume raised for.
Accompanying him is another youngster who has been compared to Brian Lara. Shimron Hetmyer will be a key player for the Windies in this World Cup and will be very crucial in the middle order. He’s proved himself on the bigger stage, scoring hundreds against both India and England. His fearless stroke-play and power hitting makes him a player to look out for.
BASH, SLASH, SMASH and FINISH
With the World Cup getting closer, Andre Russell started smashing the white ball to all parts in IPL. He’s played some great innings in the tournament where he changed the shape of the match in a matter of few deliveries. He also has the highest strike rate in the ongoing season of IPL. Among some of the recognized finishers like David Miller and Jos Buttler, Russell certainly has made a great case for himself and he can play a huge role for West Indies in the later part of the innings.
Skipper Jason Holder will also play a very integral role down the order. He’s the type of player who can bat according to the team’s needs. Looking at his recent ODI form in England’s One-Day Domestic Cup for Northamptonshire, he’s scored 86, 30, 60, and 72 in his recent outings and is coming into from just at the right time.
West Indies will be heading into the World Cup as underdogs and that is when they’re most dangerous. They might get rolled over by Afghanistan but on their day, they can beat the best. That is the beauty of West Indies cricket and that is what will be on show at the World Cup.