Are two-times T20 WC champions West Indies ready for ICC World T20 2022?

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: Are two-times T20 World Cup champions West Indies ready for World T20 2022? Phil Simmons showed disappointment over unavailability of players ahead of World T20 2022.

West Indies won only one game out of five in group stage at ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 _ Walking Wicket (©ICC_Getty Images)
West Indies won one game out of five in group stage at World Cup 2021 (©ICC/Getty Images)

In the widespread onslaught of franchise cricket, the team which has faced the maximum brunt of this has been none other than the two-time T20 WC champions, West Indies. The island nation has struggled to field its best eleven on the field due to the famous rift between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the players. The hard-hitting batters and all-rounders of the West Indies are well known across the globe not for their heroics with their national team but with their respective franchise teams.


On scanning T20 franchise teams across the globe, there isn’t a single IPL team which lacks the Caribbean flavour. You name any franchise team and there will be at least one West Indian in the lineup. Mumbai Indians have their own Kieron Pollard, Chennai Super Kings have summoned star all-rounder Dwyane Bravo, both franchises of Melbourne have summoned the services of Andre Russell at different times, Sunil Narine has spread the mystery delivery magic with Oval Invincibles in The Hundred, Alzarri Joseph has been fielded by Fortune Barishal in the Bangladesh Premier League and Rovman Powell has blazed with Kandy Warriors in the Lanka Premier League.


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Phil Simmons West Indies Coach expressed disappointment on unavailability of players ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022  _ Walking Wicket (©Getty Images)
Phil Simmons expressed disappointment over unavailability of players ahead of World Cup (©Getty Images)

Chief Selector Haynes, Chief Coach Simmons despondent on unavailability of key players

While the Caribbean players have stamps of all the nations on their passports, the stamp of donning the proud West Indies maroon jersey has been missing from their arsenal. The primary reason for this is the constant wrangling between the board and the players over the fact that they are not available for selection for their country. In an interaction with the media before the start of the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, West Indies chief selector Desmond Haynes and chief coach Phil Simmons expressed their disappointment at the scenario of unavailability of players ahead of the World Cup.


Haynes said, "I would love everyone to play for the West Indies. I would love to make sure that all the guys make themselves available to play."


“But you have to understand that the guys now have options, and if they choose other franchises over West Indies, we will have to choose from those that are available for us,” he added.


Chief coach Phil Simmons' comments were stronger: "It hurts. There's no other way to put it. But what can you do? I don't think that I should be begging people to play for their country. I think if you want to represent the West Indies, you will make yourself available. Life has changed, in that people have the opportunity to go to different places, and if they choose that over the West Indies, that's just how it is."


Availability of Key Players still suspect for ICC World T20 2022

The West Indies management has no clarity on the availability of key players ahead of the T20 World Cup. Andre Russell is unavailable for selection and Sunil Narine's availability is suspect. Evin Lewis and Oshane Thomas have not given their fitness tests while Sheldon Cottrell and Roston Chase are injured. Fabian Allen is also unavailable for personal reasons.


West Indies lost the three-match T20I series against New Zealand 2-1, was the last chance for the management to see the players in an international setting (the CPL will follow) and lead selector Desmond Haynes and chief coach Phil Simmons expressed their disappointment at the state of affairs ahead of the series. The CPL, which runs from September 1 to October 1, will come at a good time vis-à-vis West Indies' selection for the T20 World Cup. The West Indies will have to play the first round of games, which starts on October 16, to qualify for the Super 12 round of ICC World T20 2022.


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Andre Russell has not played for the West Indies since ICC World T20 2021 _ Walking Wicket (©BCCI_IPL)
Russell has not played for the West Indies since ICC World T20 2021 (©BCCI/IPL)

Andre Russell puts it the way he sees it

Andre Russell responded to head coach Phil Simmons' statement that he would not be "begging" players to be available for the West Indies, writing in a since-deleted Instagram post: "I know this was coming but am gonna stay quiet!!!


Russell has not played for the West Indies since ICC World T20 2021. He's playing for the Manchester Originals in the Hundred at the moment along with Narine, and missed the home series against India and New Zealand. Russell was part of the list of overseas players unveiled by the UAE's International League T20, which begins in January next year. When Sammy asked if he still wanted to play for the West Indies, Russell was emphatic in his assertion. "Of course, of course. The maroon is all over," he said. "Honestly, I have two franchise hundreds and I wish those hundreds were actually playing for West Indies. I don't regret saying this just now. I really enjoyed playing for the Jamaica Tallawahs, but of those two hundreds, it would be more special to come in international cricket.”


Expressing his grief, Russell said, "I always want to play and give back. But, at the end of the day, if we are not agreeing on certain terms, your terms are more important than mine [sic], and they have to respect my terms as well. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We have families and we have to make sure that we give our best opportunity while we have one career. It's not like I can start over again. I'm 34 and I want to win another World Cup—or two more—for West Indies because, at the end of the day, I'm here now, and I'm just taking it day by day."


While all the other teams have a minimum of five to six international games leading up to the T20 World Cup and are on an experimentation spree for different positions with even backups lined up, West Indies are finding it difficult to even institute 11 players. It will be interesting to see how the two-time T20 world champions set their feet in the tournament.


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