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WI cricketers made for T20


COLIN CROFT

WI cricketers made for T20

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MAYBE West Indies could surprise us again, and, as the team I played in did in 1979, after a similarly-led Clive Lloyd team had won the ICC’s first World Cup in 1975, repeat as World Twenty20 champions in Bangladesh.
West Indies’ showing against England with a 2-1 series triumph was impressive, giving enjoyment and hopes for a repeat.
If West Indies do win in Bangladesh, it would be our fifth success at ICC world events, since we were unlikely winners of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004, in England. 
England, who invented cricket, have won only one ICC trophy – the World T20 in 2010 – to date.
Despite losing the last game of this T20 series, there is no cricket team anywhere that is as uniquely suited for T20 cricket as West Indies, with batting line-up and bowling attack deliciously varied.  
T20 cricket is exactly what present West Indies cricketers, right now, are engineered for – intense, powerful, energetic cricket throughout.
Maybe Darren Sammy would do a Lloyd too, since Sammy was captain when West Indies won in Sri Lanka in 2012. 
He has certainly matured as a cricketer and leader. And as shown in the second T20 against England last Tuesday, he carries a heavy bat.
His muscular hitting is out of this world.
The first T20 versus England was as efficient a performance by West Indies as could have been imagined. But, closing at 170-3, West Indies had made 30 runs too few, especially given the start they had from returning, but still out-of-touch Chris Gayle, and the thunderous Dwayne Smith.
What a duo of openers!
In just 37 deliveries, Gayle and Smith put on 57 before separation, a start that West Indies should have capitalised on. However, by the time Gayle was out at 87-2, for 43, 69 of the 120 deliveries had gone.
Marlon Samuels, a classical batsman showing that T20s is not all about slogging, and, remember, Man Of The Match of the 2012 final, made a magnificent 69 not out, including ten fours and one six. 
To look at Samuels at the crease brings back so many memories of that other majestic Jamaican batsman, Lawrence Rowe.
Spin was always going to be West Indies’ trump card, even at Kensington Oval, where England were fooled into playing mostly faster bowlers. 
But here is where, if anywhere, West Indies selectors erred overall.
The World T20 is being played in Bangladesh, on slow, low pitches, where spinners would probably be even more lethal, but as was seen in the first T20 versus England, it only takes one injury incident to remove either of West Indies star spinners Samuels Badree or Sunil Narine, or both, leaving a massive hole in the attack. 
The selectors should have added another spinner, probably Barbados’ Sulieman Benn, or Guyana’s Veerasammy Permaul, as cover, instead of selecting yet another faster bowler, Sheldon Cottrell.
In the first T20, Badree and Narine were almost unplayable; 4-0-17-3 and 2-0-8-1, respectively, 36 deliveries for only 25 runs while getting four wickets before Narine had to leave the field with a foot injury.
Indeed, there was yet another scare, too, when Badree injured his hand attempting a return catch. 
But the composure, efficiency, elegance and energy that West Indies used to beat England, by 27 runs, were as aesthetic as a sleek Bombardier Lear-Jet 60; fast, classy and highly productive.
With mystery spinner Narine sensibly rested for the second T20, Jamaican left-arm, round-arm swinger Krishmar Santokie was included. 
Santokie did not disappoint, as his accuracy and pace confused the English to such an extent that he finished with a superlative 4-0-21-4; incredibly good figures for an almost T20 expert.
England should have been dismissed for less than 100, had West Indies taken their catches and had umpiring decisions gone their way, but 152-7 from England should have been manageable. It was not!
Gayle and Smith were again dynamic, but once separated, West Indies wobbled slightly to be 111-3, then 117-5 by over No. 17. Then Sammy, with that Herculean, over-poweringapproach, stepped in.
His 30 runs, including three sixes and two fours, off only nine deliveries in an unbeaten partnership of 38 with Dwayne Bravo, showed how adept Sammy has now become at T20 cricket.
The third T20 was in West Indies’ grasps too, when England were 138-6 in 19 overs, after being 112-1 at one stage.
Then Christopher Jordan really took to Dwayne Bravo’s last over, hitting four sixes in an over that the West Indies’ ODI captain would want to forget, trying too many slower deliveries and variations, as England got to 165-6, a very useful score.
With West Indies immediately wobbling at 28-3, there was need for intelligent batting.
This was offered by Lendl Simmons, who made an enterprising 69. 
Alas, the task was way too much for West Indies, as even lusty blows by Sammy could not keep England from winning by five runs.
So, after that, all that we can do now is wish West Indies luck in Bangladesh. 
All the best, gentlemen! 
Colin Croft is a former West Indies fast bowler.

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