ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: West Indies were hurt by lack of anchor batter like Marlon Samuels and poor bowling. West Indies should look forward to build a team for 2024 T20 World Cup happening in Caribbean and USA.
As the ball was creamed over covers for a boundary, Lorcan Tucker carried Ireland to the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 with twice champions in the 2012 and 2016 editions, West Indies being knocked out from the first round of the tournament. If the fact of West Indies needing to play the first round didn’t shock the fans, then their early exit surely did.
With the amount of batting powerhouse that West Indies possess with players like Evin Lewis, Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran who have the experience of playing all around the world in various leagues, and for a team which offers so much fun and excitement around them, it was nothing short of a real shock.
“A bit surprised to be honest that (West Indies) weren’t able to get over the line against the other teams,” former West Indies T20I captain, Kieron Pollard expressed to i95.5 FM, a Trinidad-based radio station. “But again, that speaks volumes about where our cricket is at the moment; I feel it for the guys because they are the ones who are going to get the bashing and it’s not their fault.”
A thorough post-mortem will be carried out on all aspects of our World Cup preparations: CWI president
For a team which owns the shortest format of the game with their hard-hitting batting abilities and their high-profile players who have considerable exposure to different conditions across the world due to their association with different T20 leagues all around the globe, the fans didn’t step back to raise serious questions on the preparations of the players for the event. Cricket West Indies (CWI) too on the very next day after the Caribbean Exit from T20 World Cup 2022, released a press note with an eye to dissect their team’s poor performances.
“I am deeply disappointed with the performance results of our team in Australia and I appreciate the sense of utter frustration that’s being experienced by many,” the Cricket West Indies (CWI) board president Ricky Skerritt commented on their team’s poor advertisement of the game. “The ongoing inability of our batters to prevail over opposing slow bowling continued to be an obvious weakness in Australia, and ultimately shot selections seem to be deeply embedded in the T20 batting culture of our senior team.”
“However, I want to assure stakeholders that a thorough post-mortem will be carried out on all aspects of our World Cup preparation and performance, and that solutions will be found in keeping with CWI’s strategy to improve the quality and sustainability of cricket on all fronts, and in all formats,” Skerritt stressed on how the board will look to find answers for the poor show. “West Indies cricket is bigger than any one individual or event, and continues to need the input and support of all stakeholders.”
Let’s take a look at a few aspects where the West Indies side could look to polish themselves for the next T20 World Cup.
Requirement of a proper ‘Marlon Samuels type player’ in the squad
The batting for West Indies through the whole tournament was a big concern for them. Some of their poor shot selection was letting them down continuously in the tournament and the scores of 140-150 on those good batting tracks, especially in the modern era, was never going to be enough to defend with the comparatively weak bowling line-up they carried to Australia.
Generally talking about the West Indies, the whole world thinks of power-hitting, huge sixes and boundaries flowing all around - which is true but only to a certain extent. A look at their two successful years in the T20 World Cup during the 2012 and 2016 editions tells an observer the importance of a batter who holds the innings from one end to help the other batters smash freely.
In the top 5 run-scorers of the 2012 edition, two batters stood out for the Caribbean side - their prolific opener Chris Gayle with 222 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 150, while Marlon Samuels used to play with the power-hitters to stay in the middle with 230 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 132.95.
Even in the 2016 edition, Samuels scored 181 runs albeit at a lower strike rate of 112.42. But what his presence on the crease did was that it helped others to go out and display their powers more effectively. In both finals of their victorious campaigns, first against Sri Lanka in 2012 and then against England in 2016, Samuels fought hard with knocks of 78 and 85* respectively.
The current set-up seems to missing a player like Samuels who would hold one end up right from the start to the end which would make it easier for the other batters to play with full freedom. It is precisely because of the lack of such players, even after scoring 50-60 in the powerplay, West Indies can’t even go past 150 at the end of 20 overs.
They need such a player for the future who could do the job of an anchor which will help the other batters in going hard.
“I think the assessment is that we just didn’t turn up,” West Indies head coach Phil Simmons who will step down from his job after the end of the upcoming Tests against Australia, reacted after the world cup exit. “We haven’t been playing good enough cricket to be there; we have the batters, the capabilities, we just haven’t been putting it together.”
Proper planning to use the bowlers in different phases
For all the three games in the first round of the T20 World Cup for the West Indies, there seemed to be some poor bowling plans at work. Alzarri Joseph who was the highest wicket-taker in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2022 with 18 wickets in that edition, was bowling with full pace in the right channels but for some unknown reasons, captain Nicholas Pooran always opened the bowling with an average bowler, Kyle Mayers.
It was shocking to see Joseph being introduced into the attack so late in the innings, and that led them to struggle in taking wickets with the new ball in the powerplay. Jason Holder who was the third-highest wicket-taker in CPL 2022 too was getting introduced too late which was quite unusual.
In the spin bowling department, the West Indies didn’t have those quality spinners too. The moment Akeal Hosein was struggling in the middle overs to pick up wickets or drying up the runs, the whole team was fighting in that middle phase. Leg-spinner Yannic Cariah had performed decently in the domestic circuit this season and in a few international games that he took part in, but the board decided not to send him with the Caribbean side for the world event.
Perhaps, they will look to go with Nicholas Pooran as the leader for the future but he needs to polish his captaincy skills to understand the different styles of the shortest format to make a substantial effect in the modern era.
The differences between few players and the board need to be ironed out
There was always the dispute between Cricket West Indies and the players regarding playing various T20 leagues around the world. The likes of Sunil Narine and Andre Russell have been key players for their sides in T20 teams that they play around the globe but never turn up for the national side.
The decision of not adding Shimron Hetmyer just because he missed the flight with the team to Australia, harmed the side a lot in having a powerful left-handed batter in the middle order to use the short boundaries to smack the spinners.
So, the differences between the board and the specific players need to be ironed out and captain Pooran will have to take a huge responsibility just like Darren Sammy did to glue the players and play with their full potential and power.
With them being out of the T20 World Cup even before the Super 12 stage was such a shocking news and the fans in the Caribbean were undoubtedly unhappy with that. With the next T20 World Cup to be held two years from now which will be hosted by the West Indies jointly with the United States of America (USA), the twice-champions need to collect some energy to get back their old charm.
West Indies will now play a two-match away Test series against Australia starting with the first Test which starts on November 30 at the Perth Stadium in Perth. As per the current schedule, they will play their next three-match T20I series against South Africa which starts on March 25 at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.