Windies’ fresh guard
GROS ISLET – With a focus on rebuilding for the future, West Indies will seek to open their series against a similarly inexperienced Pakistan in their lone Twenty20 International at the Beausejour Stadium today.
The hosts, like their guests, are missing key senior players for the 2 p.m. fixture and the new players drafted will be anxious to make an impression and set the tone of the series that includes five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two Tests.
West Indies are without talismanic opener Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, leaving the regional side without their most experienced players.
Captain Darren Sammy, however, was optimistic that the hosts could launch the series on a positive note.
“The squad is a well-balanced one, full of youngsters who are eager and hungry to go out there and represent the West Indies,” the all-rounder told a media conference yesterday.
“So what you will see is youngsters going out there with an opportunity to showcase what they have and make a statement.
“That’s what you are going to see out there – energy and players playing for West Indies with heart and pride and passion.
“We are looking forward to this season and we will put our best foot forward.”
West Indies are coming off a lacklustre World Cup campaign in which they made it to the quarter-finals before being crushed by Pakistan.
It prompted the selectors to make sweeping changes and Sammy stressed it was important that the team turned around their fortunes swiftly.
“We have not been doing well of late. If we play to our ability we should do well,” the skipper pointed out.
“It is important to start the series here in St Lucia on a good note and move up.”The match will mark the return of batsman Marlon Samuels following a two-year ban from international cricket for inappropriate ties to an Indian bookmaker. Much will be expected of him especially on the heels of his heavy scoring in the regional first-class championship.
He will be joined by the stylish stroke-maker Darren Bravo and flashy right-hander Lendl Simmons who has been recalled after over a year in the wilderness.
They will combine with exciting all-rounder Andre Russell and wily leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in a squad that boasts four new caps.
“With the World Cup behind us we’re rebuilding now and we’re looking forward to what is ahead in the future,” Sammy said.
“It’s going to take a team effort, as the slogan suggests, to go out there and deliver the goods for the West Indies.”
At an official welcome Tuesday evening, both West Indies and Pakistan were invited to the viewing of the new film Fire In Babylon which chronicles the passion, struggles and ultimately the supremacy of West Indies cricket.
Sammy said the movie was an inspiration to the side, especially after re-living the years of West Indies’ domination of world cricket.Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said he was expecting his young team to entertain Caribbean cricket fans.
“We always enjoy our cricket whenever we come to the Caribbean. The boys are young but they have performed well in domestic cricket in Pakistan, so we are expecting them to do well here,” he said. (CMC)