THE WEST INDIES could be the surprise package in the ICC Cricket World Cup which will be jointly staged in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2.
This was the view of coach Ottis Gibson before leaving the Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday evening for Sri Lanka where the Windies will play their hosts in a three-match rescheduled One-Day International series, just two weeks prior to the World Cup.
“I think we have a team that can win the World Cup. We will go there with the expectation of doing very well and putting ourselves in a position that we can reach the semi-finals, which is a very realistic possibility,” he said.
“We would love to win and we will try to win. The aim is to reach the semi-final and look to go forward and see how far we can get.”
Gibson reckoned that India, playing at home, will be a tough side to beat as well as Sri Lanka and he also mentioned Bangladesh – who will also be familiar with the conditions as one of the joint hosts – as a team capable of upsetting more fancied teams.
“Australia – never mind they just lost the Ashes – in major tournaments, are always competitive and England have some very good players. You can never write off South Africa and Pakistan.
We also have some good players but I think it is going to be a very wide open tournament,” the coach contended.
“But with everyone focused on these teams, we can stay in the shadows and I think that we are a team that can spring a few surprises,” he added.
Gibson said he believed that batting was going to be important on the pitches in the subcontinent which were usually slow and low.
“I think it is going to be a batting tournament and we have players like Chris Gayle, [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul, young [Adrian] Barath, and Darren Bravo is looking very good ,while [Ramnaresh] Sarwan has a very good record in the subcontinent.
“If our senior players and our batsmen put the runs on the board, it is going to be up to the bowlers to defend it.”
Gibson also felt that the One-Day series against the Sri Lankans – which was deferred from late last year because of torrential rain – while it would give the West Indies a final tune-up in subcontinent conditions ahead of the World Cup, would not be the ideal time to experiment with players.
“It is a good opportunity to put some of the plans that we are going to take into the World Cup,” he said.
All three ODIs will be played at venues which will host World Cup matches, with the opener in Hambantota on January 31 and the other two at the revamped R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on February 4 and 6.
Fast bowler Kemar Roach, who will spearhead the bowling attack, said he was ready for the challenge.
“Obviously, I have a job to do which I’m accustomed to and will do it to the best of my ability,” he told MIDWEEK SPORT. “I’m not fazed about bowling at the best batsmen in one tournament and will go out there, put my best foot forward and win the World Cup for the Caribbean.”
Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Carlton Baugh, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul,
Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.