Archive for the ‘World Cup 2011’ category

No, it won’t be the canary yellow again

February 23, 2011

Discussing Australia is quite simple as we’ve seen a lot of Australia of late. Even the most ardent fan would find it irritating following Pakistan cricket and understanding team selections and strategies. I thought Asif and Aameer were here to stay for a long time and along with Gul, would provide the meal the game starved of quality fast bowling needed. They went in a jiffy.  The Australian system always advocates good planning and grooming of specific players for specific roles. The system has been on serious examination of late. Batting wise, I should say Australia have delivered brilliant products for the future. Surprisingly on the bowling front, things look bleak.

 

Shane Watson has been a constant among the several passersby since his return from injury. He’s returned big, fit and looks mentally strong and determined. He’s held the batting almost single handedly over the last many months. His bowling has been scarce but he’s making sure he doesn’t encounter another jiggle now. Over a period of time, he’s kept Shaun Marsh out of the one day squad with his consistency. Both Watson and Haddin are makeshift openers but this is easily Australia’s best available combination. Haddin has played some brilliant one day cricket in India and he could make a big impact again. I doubt if Australia needed the second wicketkeeper in Tim Paine although I am mighty impressed with both his batting and keeping. In seaming and bowler friendly conditions, he’ll be more composed than Haddin. I’ll mark him as Australia’s next long time test keeper. Considering his batting abilities and his recent performance and the fact that he’ll be the backup to Haddin, I am fine with it. David Warner was the other opener Australia used post Hayden-Gilchrist but Watson-Haddin is a pretty stable pair.

 

Three will be Ricky Ponting. The man looks hungry and is getting some good starts. Australia would be hoping he’ll be able to make some dominating hundreds.  Micheal Clarke was in very patchy form not long ago but he’s completely out of it. He looks like playing a long knock every single time. Fast bowling will be fodder to him. Bowling groups should take the attack to him with spin. And then there is a deep hole there. Micheal Hussey!! The rules do not permit him to be part of the squad again. His brother David is good enough for 20 over games but he’s such a weak link for the longer format. Do go through these two pieces.

Cameron White has come a long way in the last three seasons. Authority is what is evident in his batting these days. If Mike Hussey was playing, he would have batted at 6. He’s got a well earned promotion now, at 5. For No.6, Adam Voges and even Shaun Marsh were contenders but the way Callum Fergusson has performed in each of the games that he’s got, he’s grabbed that spot for himself. He’ll be playing in his own cool hut there and settle a lot of nerves whether it is batting first, or chasing. If David Hussey and Steve Smith are going to follow White, those will be two weak links good oppositions will easily exploit. David Hussey may get twenty quick runs but he does not have the technique to both survive and score for long periods here in India. I am sure he’ll be exposed sooner than later. Smith is getting to play for Australia mainly because the continent is facing severe scarcity of spinners. His unorthodox hitting won’t fetch consistent returns for his team. Australia would have been better off with someone like James Hopes.

Again this is another team with a lot to ponder about at numbers 5 to 7. Micheal Hussey, Callum Fergusson and Cameron White look the strongest to me. This will mean White is the sixth bowling option assuming Clarke doesn’t bowl with his weak back. Watson will be the fifth bowler. If you want to strengthen the sixth bowling option lessening Watson’s burden, substitute Fergusson with Hopes. Hastings is the man they’ve preferred now. I don’t know if Hopes is out with injury. But my point is that if you have better medium pacers, play them instead of playing inferior spinners just because it’s the sub continent. Weaker spinners in the subcontinent will go for far more runs than Hopes or Hastings. David Hussey just cannot be playing international one day cricket, leave alone the World Cup for Australia.

 

Injuries more or less decide who gets to play in the bowling department. Brett Lee is still as competitive as ever. I saw Charles Coventry slice him for a six over point and he came back with all vigour to bowl good tight short pitched stuff, troubled him all the way before getting him. Lee, Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris and Doherty should have been the first choice line up. For all the work Hauritz had done in the chances he got, he surely didn’t deserve an injury.

Jason Krejza is extremely fortunate to be playing and let’s see how things pan out for him. Tait is as dependable as Sreesanth. They played him ahead of Bollinger in the last game. Bollinger is a much safer bet and should accompany Lee and Johnson. Johnson displayed a much slower run up to the crease in the game against Zimbabwe. That was perhaps to try and bowl as straight as possible but the man still delivered wides the way he always does. As long as he’s doing that, no opposition will consider him a threat. With Siddle, Harris and Hilfenhaus missing, it’s a big blow. With what they have got, David Hussey, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait and John Hastings should sit out.

Australia will have England or West Indies in the quarters. If it’s England, they are the favourites. If it’s West Indies, it’ll be a tough game. There is going to be serious trouble either there or in the round of the last four.

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Favourites for the First Time

February 22, 2011

The name is Sri Lanka. It’s not India. India was among the favourites in 1987 if not the favourite then. In 2003, but for a poor tour of Newzealand, India had a good year preceding the cup. Srilanka is indeed a strong favourite for the current world cup. Its squad contains all the ingredients to win a world cup in the subcontinent- strong batting, wicket taking spinners and good death bowlers. While recent talks have often surrounded India, Australia, Englans and South Africa for reasons obvious, Sri Lanka have slowly but surely made rapid strides of improvement with another bunch of youngsters. The team that finished runner up last time around will be disappointed if they at least didn’t repeat the feat again and would be despearte to go one step further.

Decisions to leave out Jayasuriya and Vaas, though tough, were inevitable. Upul Tharanga has been a consistent one day performer and has sometimes been unlucky to not have a test spot when lesser individuals have made it. Tilakaratne Dilshan picks himself but it’s been sometime since a big knock came from him. Flashy fifties have always been there but in a premier tournament he must do better. Kumar Sangakkara is at the peak of his career not least testified by his ICC batting ranking. One can expect him to lead from the front, but the later stages of the tournament will test his captaincy and probably in turn his batting. Mahela Jayawardene has epitomised freedon ever since he gave up captaincy and the free spirit has flown into his batting often resulting in silky smooth innings. Mahela is a player who relies on touch and timing more than footwork and technique. While that makes him suspect under seaming conditions, it becomes irrelevant in the sub continent. Scoring runs in India and Srilanka has been like bread and butter to him and it wont be surprising if he ends up a marquee player of the tournament. The top four present a solid look to the Lankan line up. Below that lies some tenderness that opposition teams will try to exploit. Thilan Samaraweera will most likely bat at number 5 unless the top four bat out 35 overs. Samaraweera is again a much better batsman in these conditions than he is otherwise. Chamara Silva and Chamara Kapugedera will be the other contenders for the spots 5 and 6. Chamara Silva is a good grafter but often struggles to switch gears in the later stages of the innings. Kapugedera has been pampered with chances time and again and the selectors’ generosity continues. Thilana Kandamby, who has not made the cut, should be in his place in my books. Kandamby showed a lot of promise when he came on to the scene and is definitely a much better player technically. Kandamby looked equipped enough to dowell in all conditions unlike Kapugedera. Srilanka have played very little outside the placid pitches of the subcontinent in the recent past. The spot under question is number 6 where big hitting matters more. These two factors could have tilted the scales in favour of Kapugedera though I am not convinced at all. In fact I would not play either of Chamara Silva or Kapugedera in the XI. Angelo Mathews who is a good enough batsman to bat at number 6 will take that spot followed by the other big hitting all rounder Thisara Perera at 7.

With the luxury of two genuine all rounders and Dilshan’s off spin, Sri Lanka’s bowling will be a force to reckon with. Sub continent! How many times has that word been written here?! The relevance cannot be missed when the names of Muthiah Muralitharan and Ajanta Mendis are mentioned. The two form the most threatening spin partnership of the tournament easily. Its very likely that the minnows will be bamboozled to paltry scores thanks to this twosome. Even teams like Newzealand and Australia might have a tough time and might take the wise decision of seeing them through instead of taking them on. Rangana Herath is the third spinner in the squad picked ahead of the talented Suraj Randiv- logical selection when you already have Muralitharan in the team. Young Randiv will get his chances once the legend bids goodbye at the end of the tournament. Lasith Malinga is probably the best death bowler since Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. He is probably the player that makes this Lankan team more dangerous than the former sides. He is a genuine wicket taking fast bowler and Srilanka have had very few of those. Watch out for his toe crushers and the slower ones that make batsmen a laughing stock. The enigmatic Dilhara Fernando and the consistent Nuwan Kulasekara will vie for a spot in the XI. Kulasekara is a safer bet. He can swing the ball back in sharply, but his death bowling could make Srilanka vulnerable. Fernando on the other hand can prove to be a captain’s nightmare on his bad day. Not discounting his talent, consistency has never been his forte. With other attacking options available, Sangakkara would probably pick Kulasekara ahead of Fernando.

The four to sit out would probably be Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Dilhara Fernando and Rangana Herath. Thats enough back up for a solid eleven. Srilanka will right fully carry the favourites tag into the tournament but time will tell if they justify it.

One of the finalists should be…

February 21, 2011

South Africa

Coming to the World Cup, watching all those who have played in the last 2 years, there are some big names missing. It is very sad to learn South African cricket still suffers out of differences based on colour of skin. In the end, it could have easily altered 3 to 4 names. In India, the differences are based on so many different factors. But with the Indian squad, considering the abilities and form of all of whom we have seen over the last four years, there may have been one or may be two different names.

Mark Boucher is arguably the best keeper batsman after Sangakkara. Haddin is brilliant and Brendon McCullum has terrific ability. Boucher has been through overs 35 to 50 on so many occasions and he’s played a lot of cricket in India. De Villiers is a risk South Africa is taking. Whether it is worth it, Geoffrey Boycott and I do not know. You’ll argue this is a fresh idea. Probably a fresh idea to come out of depressing World cup defeats in the past. I would have happily had AB in the covers with Boucher behind the stumps. This squad had been groomed for the World Cup. Colin Ingram could be a better bet at No.7 but AB is too precious for South Africa to be overloaded like this. Boucher may come back after the World cup but it is so sad and unfair on such a solid servant of South African cricket, missing having a go at the big prize.  Morne Van Wyk is a mere stand by for AB.

Loots Bosman is more of a T20 player. Gibbs’s form has dipped steadily and Amla has been amazingly consistent. Neil McKenzie is far from the form Amla has displayed. To me, he was a contender but yes, far away from Amla. The biggest fight for Amla’s place comes from Alviro Peterson. Both would play similar roles to what Trott and Gambhir would do to England and India. With Morne Van Wyk in the squad, Peterson misses out.

There was one series of games, sometime in the last one year, where Kallis played aggressively and proved to be very effective. That was following a period where he was in bad batting form. I don’t remember when that happened. Generally Kallis is expected to play the anchor with Duminy and De Villiers providing the boundary shots. With Amla certain to open with Smith, Kallis can continue to attack from one end. Amla and AB can do the maneuvering. I know all this changes with each opposition and each game but this should be plan A. Without preparation, things can go haywire.

Du Plessis and Colin Ingram make 6 and 7. Du Plessis looks like a big prospect. Albie Morkel has fallen behind Ingram. With so many pace bowling options, they’ve chosen to go for someone with better all round batting skills. That does make sense.

Johan Botha looks a certainty. I will forever hate any bowler who creates the slightest doubt in my mind about a clean bowling action and I hate Johan Botha. If he’s going to be captain of the South African side after the World Cup, with the number of games he’s played for the country, just because he’s got a strong enough mind to have come out of examinations of his bowling action, that is very very very sad.

Where the hell is van der Merwe?? Why don’t they try Paul Harris in limited over games? He’s bowling real tight in tests. Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are the other spinners in the squad. Tahir picked up three wickets in the practice game against Zimbabwe and looks more likely to play ahead of Robin Peterson. The latter is just another ordinary left arm spinner, at the international level. I think Paul Harris needs to be tried in one day games. He’s surely their best spinner right now.

I would shut the doors for Johan Botha and groom van der Merwe for that spot although he needs to organize his batting better for the 50 over format.

 

What do I say of Dale Steyn?? Brett Lee has lost a lot of steam. Asif and Aameer were fantastic bowlers, but bowlers they were, not gentlemen cricketers. James Anderson is peaking right now and only Kemar Roach belongs to this league today. Out of Roach, Steyn and Anderson, Steyn has to be the best. The way he is steaming in, Muralitharan’s test tally could be embarrassed by a fast bowler!

Morne Morkel along with Dale Steyn is like Sachin Tendulkar following Rahul Dravid in the Indian test line up. Langeveldt is not growing younger nor do I know if he’s fit and playing. I still remember him as a genuine fast bowler. The fellow got shot in his forehead and to survive that and play international cricket for a good amount of time needs character. Wayne Parnell is an attacking option. I am very impressed with the smoothness of his run up and action. He bowls at a very lively pace and constantly looks dangerous. Tsotsobe has been in good form of late. He’s not in the same class as that of Parnell but SA are looking at Tsotsobe as a good containing option behind Morkel and Steyn. With Tahir very likely to play, four pacers are never going to play together. I don’t think I need to discuss Ryan Mclaren in front of these four.

Yours truly firmly believes South Africa are going to be playing at the Wankhede on the 2nd of April, 2011.

Cheers.

Of English hopes

February 20, 2011

Any selection should go by instinct and an intelligent selector would have picked Chris Tremlett for the World cup. Stuart Broad is a well established player but he hasn’t played since the Adelaide test.  This is the World cup. Some brave and smart selections could lead you to the pinnacle.

Broad would, of course be part of the squad but having seen the way Tremlett bowled in Australia, he was a certainty in my starting eleven. Broad’s fresh from injury and Bangladesh will not be a cozy place to make a comeback. He will need some time and if someone like Tamim Iqbal throws him the kitchen sink straight away, it could take a long time to get his rhythm back. England will need everyone in good touch from start to end.

Jimmy Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann pick themselves. Bresnan has been one of the most improved cricketers of late for England. His bowling is brisk and there are very few bad balls. He’ll make the batsman earn his runs in a hard way.  He should be the regular number 7, giving England the cushion of 5 specialist bowlers with Broad at 8. Again, I wonder how even Ajmal Shahzad has got the nod ahead of Tremlett.

So with what they have got, Anderson, Broad and Swann should follow Bresnan. The fourth specialist bowling slot seems to be going to Micheal Yardy. I have little knowledge of both Tredwell and Yardy but with Yardy’s batting should help him seal the No.8 slot. Tredwell, I remember is a conventional left arm spinner, mostly bowling from over the wicket. I don’t think he has any kind of variety and he should get some harsh treatment from any batting side if he plays. England’s spin bowling stocks outside of Swann look pathetic.  Monty has never been in the reckoning for one dayers and Adil Rashid has a lot of time to mature. They’d be better off playing a quick bowler in place of Yardy. Someone like Onions should have been great for England. His injury has opened up long careers for Tremlett and Bresnan. Steve Finn was ineffective in Australia but the likes of Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood would, in anyway, disrupt his one day hopes.

So Bresnan, Yardy, Swann, Broad and Anderson is what I would advocate with my dream being Bresnan, Tremlett, Broad, Swann and Anderson. I have mentioned Tremlett ahead of Broad in the eleven but that shall be the case if there is a real good second spinner. Subcontinent and spinning conditions will force the inclusion of a second spinner and hence Yardy comes in. I am finding it very difficult to write about these options because there are four players who could easily be replaced. Tredwell, Yardy, Shahzad  and Luke Wright. These four could disappear any time. Shahzad and Wright are highly regarded. Wright has a long way to go. He may be promising but with Bresnan in such good form and Collingwood still going strong for the one dayers, there is no way in for Wright.

The top six has only seven to choose from and that’s an easy job. Many including me have thought Bell would be the best option opening with Strauss but England have sprung a surprise promoting KP to open. Big decision. Big event. Big player. There is no trouble in Bell playing at four. He’s all class and he’ll keep the scoreboard moving but one thing that will be lacking is a big hitting specialist batsman down the order. Prior and Bresnan will have to do that job if KP continues to open. It doesn’t look a bad decision at all though. If Morgan was playing, Trott’s position was in doubt but Trott will take No.3 now. Morgan is a shocking loss for England. It is a huge loss to this whole tournament. Bopara was a straight forward replacement but he could play only in case of an injury to the other batters. Strauss, Bell, Trott, KP, Collingwood and Prior looks good. Colly is regularly bowling his full quota of ten overs and he is the 6th bowling option. This eleven looks extremely balanced. Morgan’s presence would have made them look dangerous. And I have liked the way they have picked Prior ahead of Davies and Kieswetter. He’s been part of this happy Ashes winning unit and his keeping has been of a very high class. England should have picked Tremlett along the same lines.

India England at Eden Gardens should have been a very good exhibition. My Bengali friends say there is going to a lot of trouble and disruption at the other games in Kolkata, protesting the shifting of this game to Bangalore. Of course there is politics involved but why is the board not getting the stadium ready on time?  After all, it’s the World Cup. And if there was no politics, Eden should have been hosting the final. It is now racing against time to be ready for three games, all involving associate nations. What a shame!

Many say England are one of the favourites. I do like this England team but they have performed poorly in one day games in the subcontinent. They should be wary of Bangladesh. I reckon that could be a close game. India and South Africa are tough opponents. They need to be on their toes right from the start. This group consists of Bangladesh and an upset is more likely here than in the other group. I don’t think they are going beyond the quarterfinals.

New Zealand

February 11, 2011

Recently I watched the highlights of the ’96 quarters game between NZ and Australia and couldn’t believe how well Chris Harris batted on that day. Harris, Cairns, McMillan and Fleming were seriously talented and capable players, who also performed a lot more consistently than the current side.

Players like Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder and Neil Broom possess enough skill to perform at the international stage. But looking at the way this side has performed over all formats in the last two years, I think I have been very optimistic about New Zealand’s chances.

They have been silently good performers in most of the ICC events. To believe that this team will go the entire distance in this tournament will mean a lot of optimism. We’ll see how the squad goes and who they will face in the round robin.

John Wright has decided one out of McCullum, Ryder and Guptill will play down the order. That will mean McCullum moving down the order. Ryder and Guptill are good enough at the top and I won’t debate much on that. McCullum should float between 4 and 6 and never below than that. I would suggest he always come in before Oram and Franklin, if the latter plays. In case, one out of the three is injured, the other two certainly have to open the batting. Jamie How is the other top order option and is getting his millionth chance in this team. I would have never picked him in the first place and he will have to be preparing the drinks. NZ do not have too many other options anyway. Peter Ingram and BJ Watling are the other names for top order slots but with Ryder, with God’s grace, fit and healthy, there is no vacancy here.

Numbers 3 to 7 will have Mr.Cricket fixed at 7. My  3 to 6 will be Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris and Brendon McCullum. Ross Taylor has moved up to No.3, which is not a bad move but in case of an early wicket, Kane Williamson can do an anchoring role at three. Neil Broom is a very similar player. He’s very gutsy and fighting and is a must for one day games. If Taylor plays at three, Williamson could move to five. He should also have a lot of faith in himself after the way he played the tests against India here, last winter. Considering that, he’s a surety in the eleven. Scott Styris has been in fine batting form ever since his comeback to the team. He brings in disciplined bowling and a wealth of experience. Grant Elliott is someone who should take Styris’ and Oram’s place after these two depart. He is surely a long term prospect for the Kiwis. They have used James Franklin a lot at No.6. He’s not in my starting eleven. I don’t think he can improvise and keep the scoreboard moving in Indian conditions. And his pace has gone down a lot. He only remains an ordinary medium pacer. He’s a good back up for Styris. He deserves his place in the squad ahead of anybody else. I am disappointed to have missed out watching Luke Woodcock in the recently ended one day series. He’s probably one who would play in the spots of Oram and Franklin in the future.

 

Eight to eleven

Mills and Southee pick themselves. And so does Nathan McCullum at 9. Jeetan Patel would have been very useful in India. Nathan has gone ahead with his far better batting skills.

Kudos to Kyle Mills for serving his national team with this kind of consistency. He’s remained fit and he’s retained his pace and he’s now the frontline fast bowler, difficult to handle in swinging conditions and good at the death. Mills will also use the long handle to good effect. Southee could leak some runs early in the innings but he’s too good to be out of this team. Tuffey, Arnel and Andy McKay are seaming options but far inferior to this couple. Ooh and how amazing, you have a pure test bowler around in Chris Martin!! How many others do that? Play only tests, or rather,  get picked only for tests??

Hamish Bennett has been picked mainly for his pace. Ian Butler and Brent Arnel are better picks than Bennett. Bennett wouldn’t get too many games in India as Nathan McCullum is a certainty. Add Styris, Ryder and Oram’s medium pace to Mills and Southee, there is no need for a third specialist seamer here.

I know Micheal Mason doesn’t belong to the country’s top 15 and Adam Milne is too raw. There is some talk about Milne’s potential, his pace and some similarity to Bond but he is too young for a World Cup. He could be thwarted around. Southee has gained a lot more control over his bowling. Mills and Southee hold key to NZ’s hopes.

Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be NZ’s main opponents in the round robin. John Wright says this format containing quarterfinals could work to their advantage, which sounds weakness and not much confidence. Yes, they are certainly expected to beat Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya to reach the quarters but I am sure, they can stretch Australia to the limit. The game against Pakistan could be close as well. Sri Lanka should be very tough to beat. I’ll pick Australia as one of the major teams that the Kiwis are going to win in the first round. And with some momentum, they should be in the semis.

I continue to remain one of New Zealand Cricket’s genuine fans. They are a very committed bunch and I’ll be pleased to see them in the last four and carry on from there.

The Windies

January 27, 2011

After all the talk of the death of one day cricket, the world cup hasn’t really had the kind of build up that it used to have. Teams have started resting key players in one day games, preserving them for tests. This is the cup that matters and teams will suddenly be playing with their full strength line ups, which looks irregular!

I’ll start off with the West Indies and their chances.

I have seen Devon Smith in tests and he looks least likely to get a single game. Barath and Gayle take the opening slots and that is a fair opening combination against any attack. Barath has to feel  home very soon and he has the cushion of Gayle at the other end. Chris has played some very determined knocks of high temperament in tests recently and that’s how he needs to play in all their games. He cannot be swashbuckling in each and every innings. His bowling adds huge balance to the side and he’s not a bad bowling option in the powerplays.  In case of an injury to one of the openers, Chanderpaul should take the spot and not Smith. And if Marlon Samuels was available fit and playing in the West Indies, he could have been a better bet in the squad, in place of Smith.

The other options for the top order were Wavell Hinds, Travis Dowlin, Dale Richards and Runako Morton but they are clearly lagging behind Barath.

I’ll pick Sarwan, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard to make the bulk of the runs in 35-40 overs. Gayle and Barath must make the first 15 overs their own. Apart from Sarwan and I don’t know how well Darren Barvo will adjust to the conditions, this is still a middle order that you can run through. A poor start will severely cripple their chances in any game. Chanderpaul plays only if one out of the two Bravos are in awful form. That will be my gamble but I don’t think they’ll pick Darren ahead of Chanderpaul. Finally, think they will sideline Sarwan and pick both! I wouldn’t advise that.  Sarwan is too classy to be left out. He’s going to play a huge role if West Indies are going to enter the last four.  West Indies have India, South Africa, England and Bangladesh in their group and Pollard and Bravo are going to be very handy against England and may be India. All the left arm spinners from Bangladesh are going to be a pain and so will Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel prove to be.

The key in tournaments like these will be feeling home to the general Indian conditions as quickly as possible and then gelling as a unit.  These are very simple and commonly used terms but work like magic to the side’s success. Look at England. They didn’t have a great side. They got accustomed to the Australian conditions and most of them are good friends off the field. Look at how comprehensive they were in the Ashes last month. That kind of a team is going to do well in this World Cup.

Back to the middle order, Lendl Simmons, Brendan Nash, Narsingh Deonarine and Dwayne Smith would have been other serious contenders. I am a big fan of Simmons. He’s just too good to be wasted like this. I’d love to see him push for a place in the eleven in all the formats, especially tests and one days. I remember Dwayne Smith’s sweet hitting last season. Add to that his useful little dibbly dobblys and he is way better an option than Darren Sammy. Sammy,  the skipper! In a seam bowling line up of Roach, Rampaul, Bravo and Pollard in India, Sammy is the biggest liability. I am pretty sure he’s going to be of very  little use in this World Cup. They are having him for his spirit, it seems. That’s how sorry the state of West Indies cricket is. And the fellow is also their test captain.

Wicket keeper. Andre Fletcher is perhaps too inexperienced for the World Cup now. Should he keep working hard, he should be the automatic choice for the next World Cup. Dinesh Ramdin has been irritating them enough. They have gone for Carlton Baugh. He has some experience but they had no good choices really. It’ll be a bonus if he simply keeps well.  Given the status they were in for the last few years, they had no planning whatsoever for the World Cup.  They could have done well giving a lot more exposure to Fletcher but they had too much of hopes pinned on Ramdin.

Kemar Roach is the best fast bowler in the West Indies and is a simple pick. Rampaul has done well in the slog overs and he’s been quite consistent. They have rewarded his hard work. I won’t complain but I am searching for Gavin Tonge. Tonge is quite similar to Munaf Patel and is a very disciplined bowler. He could have been a brilliant partner for Roach. Jerome Taylor is the other option and I think he’s out only because of injury. Some amount of planning would have helped him stay cautious and fit for a big tournament like this. I don’t see Andre Russel getting too many chances as Roach, Sammy, Rampaul and Benn are certainties. This makes things tough for even second specialist spinner Nikita Miller. Russel could play only if one of the other seamers get injured. In a pitch assisting spinners, I would want both Benn and Miller along with Gayle. So where do I fit Miller? Drop Rampaul will be the option because, again, Sammy is the bloody captain.

Benn has been too good and is one of the finest spinners in the world. He has got well stuck into that not very conventional action but he’s really good. He and Roach lead their attack and have to take care of the powerplays.  Some of the North Indian venues will have dew coming in the evenings. That will rule out Miller. Otherwise, Rampaul could be dropped for Miller. Roach, Bravo and Pollard and Sammy are enough seaming options. The only bowler I will miss big is Tonge.  Shane Shillingford comes only after Miller in the one day format. Tino Best and David Bernard were other names. I haven’t seen much of Best but I believe he is potentially better than Rampaul. Rampaul has been a regular in the team of late and it’s not bad to have Rampaul when you’re playing Sammy, and as captain.

Generally, the four to miss out in the available squad should be Chanderpaul, Russel, Miller and Devon Smith. Chanderpaul is too big a name to be here but I’ll take that gamble. This is playing for the ultimate glory.

If they can pull off one win against England, South Africa or India, they are surely into the last eight. Bangladesh are going to be very serious opponents to the West Indies. They’ve exceeded expectations if they are playing the semifinals.