Sammy: Spin may be key
KENSINGTON OVAL, with its bouncy pitch has been a happy hunting ground for West Indian fast bowlers for decades.
But spin, rather than pace could be the main weapon of reigning world champions, West Indies in the three-match Twenty20 International cricket series against England, starting at 2 p.m., today before a sell-out crowd.
Even though big-hitting opener Chris Gayle will be making a return to the team, captain Darren Sammy indicated mystery spinner Sunil Narine and leg-spinner Samuel Badree will be key cogs for the Windies.
“In T20, the spinners play a very important role in the game. Wherever it has been played, the spinners have chipped in and we have quality spinners in our attack,” Sammy told reporters at Kensington yesterday as the West Indies wrapped up their pre-match net preprations.
Sammy said Badree has a sub-six an over economy rate while the English batsmen did not pick Narine, who is the ICC’s No. 1 ranked T20 too well in the preceding One-Day International series in Antigua which the visitors won 2-1.
But the West Indies, who can also utilise the flat off-spin of their stylish right-hander Marlon Samuels, also have left-arm slow-medium swing bowler Krishmar Santokie and the experienced seamer Ravi Rampaul in their team.
“We are quite happy with the combination and it is even tougher to get 11 on the park. It is a good headache to have and hopefully, we could come up with the right 11 that would give us the victory tomorrow and the series,” Sammy said.
It will be interesting to see who will partner Gayle at the top of the order.
Local fans will be hoping that the selectors keep faith with the lone Barbadian in the team, dynamic Dwayne Smith, who was the Player Of The Series in last year’s T20 Champions League while representing Mumbai Indians.
Other options are another power-hitter Johnson Charles, while Lendl Simmons, Samuels and the experienced all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will fill the middle order slots, followed by Sammy and dynamic all-rounder Andre Russell.
Whatever combination the West Indies decide on, they could be up against Barbadian-born pacer Chris Jordan, who is now representing England.
Sammy dismissed the notion that the West Indies prefer the T20 format.
“I don’t think it is about being comfortable. I think it is about going out there on the pitch and trying to execute to the best of our abilities,” Sammy said.
“Probably, we might perform better in certain formats but on any given day, once the West Indies players play to their full potential they could compete with anybody. We just have to bring performances,” insisted Sammy.
Sammy said it was important for the West Indies’ batsmen build a solid foundation.
“I think whether it is T20, One-Day or a Test match, you need that foundation in order to have that launch at the end and we’ve shown that we could do that.
“It is about batting well and we back our bowlers with the quality of Narine and Badree and we have guys like Santokie, all seasoned players, who have performed at the regional level so it is about putting that performance out there on the cricket pitch and playing as a team,” Sammy said.
The last time England played a T20 International in Barbados was back in 2010 when they won the World T20 title by beating Australia by seven wickets in the final.
England will be without Joe Root, who fractured a finger in the decisive third ODI in Antigua when he scored a maiden century.
His place will be taken by Alex Hales, who will partner Michael Lumb at the top.
England’s assistant coach Paul Collingwood, who is returning to the venue where he lifted the World T20 Cup four years ago as captain, said it was important to snare Gayle’s wicket early.
“It [getting Gayle out] is up there with probably the biggest challenge that you got in world cricket in terms of power. The guy hits the cricket ball like a golf ball and it is incredible to see and hopefully we don’t see too many big drives coming from him.
“He’s one player that you got to get out early because he can cause some damage. The West Indies got a few of those players in their set up so we got to come up with some good plans and then try to get these guys out early,” said Collingwood.
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree, Andre Fletcher, Sheldon Cottrell, Krishmar Santokie.
England (from): Stuart Broad (captain), Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Chris Jordan, Jade Dernbach, Stephen Parry, Luke Wright.