World Cup countdown: Windies have it in them

STILL CHUGGING: Chris Gayle’s good form augurs well for the West Indies in the World Cup.AFP

Whether it was during their heydays when they ruled the cricket world with an iron fist or their period of decline when they gradually lost the cloak of "invincibility", West Indies -- or just the Windies as they are referred to now -- have never ceased to excite the fans across world with the flair they play with. 

Their uninhibited approach, their free-flowing game and the ability to pull off improbable wins have endeared them to the cricketing world like few other teams. Not for nothing are they the second favourites after the home team in every country.     

Over the years, the West Indies' seem to have taken their game not so seriously, and there are multiple reasons for that. From issues related to administration to attraction towards more lucrative games like basketball and football, have taken a toll on West Indies' cricket.  

They were once the lords of the game, having won the first two World Cups before ending up as shock runners up to India the third time. India's stature has only seen upward graph since then while West Indies' fortunes have spiraled downwards. Such has been their state of affairs that they had to play the qualifiers and even scrape through it to make the World Cup this time.

Even during this period of decline, cricket world has witnessed some astonishing performances from West Indies. In their ranks, they have players with abilities to make a huge challenge look ridiculous. While the recent Test series win over England was an encouraging sign, it is a fact West Indies are more comfortable playing shorter formats. Their twin World T20 titles (2012 & 2016) are shining examples but with every step forward they have taken, they have taken two backwards.  

In England, it remains to be seen if Jason Holder's men will show the hunger and temperament required to excel in ODI format. They can boast of batsmen who can go berserk or bowlers who can rattle the opponents. But do they have the temperament to click as a unit?

"West Indies have match winners but that's not enough to play in English conditions. We need a team that's consistent. It's important to reach the knockouts and from there, they can beat any team," said former Windies skipper Brian Lara in a recent interview.

In Holder, they have a mature leader. Chris Gayle and Andre Russell offer experience. Shimron Hetmyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran form a fearsome bunch of batsmen. For Gayle, one of the greatest entertainers of the game, it's a chance to bow out on a high.

With the West Indies, there is no dearth of surprise elements and if they go deep, the World Cup is sure to get interesting.

Squad: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas. 


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