World Cup caution from Brathwaite
LONDON – Bowling all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite has cautioned against inflating expectations of the Caribbean side ahead of the ICC World Cup starting here today with hosts England facing South Africa at the historic Oval.
Following that match, the West Indies, buoyed by a massive victory over New Zealand in their last warmup match on Tuesday, face Pakistan in their opening World Cup encounter at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, tomorrow.
The Windies’ mammoth 421 off 49.2 overs thanks to Shai Hope’s classy 101 and cameo half-centuries from all-rounder Andre Russell (54) and opener Evin Lewis (50) at the Bristol County Ground, has raised speculation over the Caribbean side eclipsing the 500-run mark soon.
But Brathwaite said while this was possible from the powerful batting line-up, their performance needed to be placed in perspective.
“If you are asking me if we are capable of it, definitely we are. However, in a real game you probably won’t have the depth in batting at 10 and 11 that we had. So you need to be a little real about the target,” Brathwaite pointed out.
“But what I will say is the intent and the execution from batsman to batsman, situation to situation. Believe it or not, there were some times when we consolidated. So that was beautiful, just to play what was probably the perfect batting innings as a team.
“Hopefully, we can get 325 consistently. That is probably about par in these conditions. And then, the odd day we can get 400 and give the bowlers a little bit of leeway.”
Hope’s hundred, though coming in a contest not accorded ODI status, was his third triple figure score in his last seven outings heading into the World Cup.
He, along with Russell, Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer and captain Jason Holder, present a formidable batting line-up for West Indies in the tournament expected to feature high totals.
And Hope said it was important the Caribbean side aimed for 300-plus scores every game in order to give themselves a chance.
“It is just the style of the game in these recent times, we know that,” said Hope, who averages 51 from 54 ODIs.
“Three-fifty is almost par in these times, so you have to really keep up with the run-rate. It is just about trying to adapt to the style of play these days.”
Hope was also full of praise for teammate Russell whose half-century on Tuesday came from a mere 23 balls and included seven fours and three sixes.
The broad-shouldered Jamaican has developed a reputation as one of the cleanest hitters in the game and is expected to play a key role in the lower order in the upcoming tournament.
“[Russell] is just incredible – a freak of nature, really. I don’t really know what to say about him,” Hope said.
“He just hits it, and once he hits it, it goes for six. It is a pleasure to be on the same team as him, I can tell you that. If you are on the field, you are not sure what you are going to bowl at him. It is just nice to enjoy from the inside.” (CMC)
A WARNING from Carlos Brathwaite ahead of the World Cup. (FP)