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T20 World Cup 2021

Five things West Indies need to do to become T20 World Cup contenders again

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

The West Indies T20 World Cup campaign came to an end today with a limp defeat to Australia, bringing to a close an historic era of T20 cricket.

There is plenty they need to do to become contenders for the crown again.

Be luckier

T20 is an incredibly volatile format of cricket where luck plays a far greater part than we may care to admit. Even the best teams will still lose about one in every three games they play. This has been a disappointing campaign for the West Indies but they didn’t forget how to play T20 cricket overnight. The beginning of this tournament was dominated by teams who won the toss and elected to chase. Pakistan and England had effectively guaranteed their qualification after starting their campaigns with three wins from three each. In those games they won five of the six tosses between them and chased on every single occasion. By contrast, the Windies lost the toss in all of their first three games and batted first every time. Two losses and a three run win against Bangladesh followed and they were pretty much already on the plane home. Have the West Indies under-performed? Yes. Have they also been unlucky? Yes.

Get Sunil Narine to do a bleep test

Sunil Narine is a world-class T20 player who would without doubt improve this Windies side. But, he has also failed to meet the fitness standards required for selection. Given his quality, many questioned whether an exception to the rule could be made for Narine, but given the Windies have previously refused to select Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis when their fitness levels dipped below what was considered acceptable, the hypocrisy of then selecting Narine made his inclusion a non-starter. Nevertheless, Narine would without doubt be a boost to this side, so someone get that man a treadmill.

Find an attacking bowler or two

A problem that is also exacerbated by the absence of Narine is that the Windies have a team of defensive bowlers who are skilled at restricting an opposition but not necessarily cutting through them (they only took 16 wickets in five matches). Dwyane Bravo, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder and Akeal Hosein are all skilled bowling options in their own right, but none of them strike fear into an opponent. The injury to left-arm seamer Obey McCoy at the start of the competition further exaggerated this problem but moving into next year, an X-factor with the ball will go a long way to improving this team.

Settle on and stick with a top three

Only a fool would say that Chris Gayle has absolutely, 100%, definitely retired. But, given his ovation as he left the pitch today it does seem like you can say with some confidence that he has played his last game for the West Indies. Combine this with the fact that Lendl Simmons is no longer a guaranteed pick in the XI having been dropped this tournament (until then he had played in 14 T20s for the Windies this year) and that leaves two of the three spots at the top of the order up for grabs with Evin Lewis the only nailed-on selection. Does Andre Fletcher come back? Will Nicholas Pooran’s move to No.3 be permanent? What about Chandrapaul Hemraj? Kennar Lewis had an explosive CPL for the Jamaica Tallawahs and even Rahkeem Cornwall had a few games at the top of the order for St Lucia. A spot is up for grabs at the next World Cup for whoever performs over the next 12 months.

Don’t hold on to the past

The retiring Dwayne Bravo has said that Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran are the future of West Indies cricket. Add into that equation the equally talented Fabian Allen and the Windies have three players who over the next 12 months will become the “now” of this team rather than the exciting next generation that has bided their time behind the legendary names of Gayle, Pollard, Russell and Bravo. Dig a little deeper and you will also see the likes of Sherfane Rutherford, Chandrapaul Hemraj and Rahkeem Cornwall who are likely to experience more opportunities over the next 12 months. It’s simplistic to suggest that West Indies’ downfall can be attributed to past-their-best players holding onto their spots, when the likes of Bravo and Gayle still command huge fees in franchise T20 leagues. But it does feel as if the first West Indies T20 dynasty has come to an end. The time is now to put their faith in the next one.

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