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Sunday, September 20, 2009

ICC champions trophy – West Indies

ICC champions trophy – West Indies

Much has already been said about the current impasse between WICB and WIPA and its effect on the selection for the current squad. To effectively explain all the details and possible ramifications of this matter would take several articles. As such, this article will concern itself with the current West Indies team for the ICC Champions Trophy and what may be expected from the team by the basis of their performances in the warm –up matches.

The West Indies began their preparation for the Champions Trophy with two matches against South African first-class teams. The first of these was against Cape Cobras on September 13th in which the West Indies lost a close high-scoring match. The West Indian batting line-up posted 327/7 with fifties from Devon Smith, Kieran Powell and Chadwick Walton. Darren Sammy also provided late impetus by scoring 31 from just 14 balls. The West Indian bowling also started strongly with Kemar Roach claiming two wickets in his first three overs. The Cobras further stumbled to 128/5 but a strong lower-order batting performance coupled with poor bowling from the West Indies gave the Cobras the chance they needed to win the game.

In their second warm-up match against North West the West Indians scored 345, again going past the 300 mark. Captain Floyd Reifer and wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton as well as top-order batsmen Andre Fletcher and Travis Dowlin scored fifties. Vice-captain Sammy bolstered the lower order with 44, hitting five sixes and a four, and the West Indians ended their innings with momentum.

In response, North West could only reach 242 for 9 with fast bowler Darren Sammy taking 3 for 33, and Royston Crandon and Gavin Tonge picking up two wickets apiece.

From those results it would seem that the West Indies could be confident about their batting lineup’s ability to build high scores. The fact that fifties came from five different batsmen also seems to suggest that there is no dependency on any single batsman. The bowling performance after the first match however left a lot to be desired. The team managed to turn it around by the second match but the inconsistency should remain a worry.

The major worry would be that these are only first-class sides. As such the result of the warm-up against South Africa would be a truer indication of the West Indian prospects. Considering the result of that game, West Indies fans will hope that indicator is completely wrong.

In the match South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first. They further showed the correctness of their decision by piling on 388 runs against the West Indies for the loss of only 4 wickets. Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy all reached the 80s. Duminy was the stand-out batsman with 80 off 49 deliveries while Mark Boucher gave a late cameo by smashing 55 off 27 balls, adding 116 off 55 deliveries with Duminy.

Tino Best and Dave Bernard picked up two wickets each but all six bowlers used by Floyd Refier went for economy rates of over 6.5 an over. They also bowled 25 extras which was not much of a factor in this game but could be decisive in a low scoring game.

West Indies' openers made a quick start putting on 80 runs in the 13 overs. However when Andre Fletcher got out it was the start of a middle order collapse. Only Darren Sammy showed any attempt at staying in the wicket and while he got to fifty ,no one else stuck around long enough. The West Indies were all out for 200 in 41 overs.

The results from above seem to show that the West Indian bowling attack cannot be expected to contain a batting lineup to scores that are low enough for it to chase. While the batting was adequate against the first class opposition, they had no answer to the international standard of the South African bowling. The second warm-up match against Sri Lanka would say more about the capability of the West Indies to make an impact in the tournament but for now it seems that the West Indies will be making an unsuccessful ICC Champions Trophy appearance unless the off field issues are resolved.

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