West Indies come to the World Cup looking to redeem a reputation tarnished by the events of 2014. The aborted tour of India due to a contracts dispute between the squad led by Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies Players Association and the West Indies Cricket Board fractured opinion in the West Indian community, and largely caused dismay among the cricket-loving public.
more critically, there were casualties. Amid claims of victimisation in many quarters and equally strong denials by chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd and president of the WICB Dave Cameron, Bravo and senior allrounder Kieron Pollard found themselves surplus to requirements for the World Cup.
Taking Bravo’s place at the helm is 23-year-old budding allrounder Jason Holder, the youngest man ever to captain West Indies, and a player who had just 21 ODIs behind him before the appointment. His will be the weighty task of galvanising a team still carrying the baggage of India with them to Australia and New Zealand, and having to deal with an assignment that was already going to be difficult.
Stuck in the lower half of the ODI rankings, the two-time former World Cup winners cannot, on statistics, be considered tournament favourites, especially since they have struggled to win with any regularity against the sides ranked above them. However, with power-hitting batsmen like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy, the classy Marlon Samuels, West Indies have the batting personnel to have a decent tournament. Their bowling, however, has suffered after offspinner Sunil Narine withdrew from the squad to give himself more time to work on his action, which was reported as suspect during the 2014 Champions League T20 in India. Left-arm spinner Nikita Miller has been picked to fill Narine’s shoes.