The West Indies have, relatively speaking, been in the cricket doldrums for the better part of a decade, but the 2019 World Cup should offer a chance at new hope for the Carribean cricketing paradise.
Jason Holder (capt), Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer
This is a squad full of talent, but one full of questions that can only be answered on a match-by-match basis.
With players like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, every single opposition should be mightily scared when it comes to facing them.
Shai Hope is a key man for the West Indies at the 2019 World Cup. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP / Getty Images)
Their attack won’t be half bad either, led by guys like Jason Holder and Kemar Roach, who are starting to fall into the experienced bracket. However, it’s bowling which has let them down over the last 12 months.
As mentioned, it’s guys like Gayle and Russell who you go straight to with this squad as their strength.
It’s hard to call their batting an outright strength, because there is still so much margin for error and the likelihood of failure so prevalent.
But if they, along with others like Carlos Brathwaite and Evin Lewis, can put it together on the same day, there is no reason they can’t score in excess of 400 against any team they come up against. Each and every team should be concerned with the Windies’ raw power.
Pace bowling also has to go down as a strength, even if the averages aren’t setting the world on fire.
Holder, Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas are likely to make up the first choice attack, with the quartet all boasting a good mix of accuracy and pace on their day.
That, of course, is also the advantage of having Holder. He bats in the top six, allowing them to play an extra bowler.
While Ashley Nurse has actually been the top wicket-taker for the West Indies over the last 12 months, it’s hard to see him having the same impact in English conditions.
In fact, the entire bowling effort hasn’t really been good enough. Nurse has averaged 46 but, while the quicks have the potential, none of them are setting the world on fire numbers-wise.
Their spin bowling stocks are also pretty weak, and that will come back to bite them throughout a tournament where pace off the ball might be the key.
Consistency is the other big problem. Whether it’s batting, bowling, or fielding, things just feel like they could go wrong at any point.
That, of course, is the way the Windies play their cricket – with aggression and want to dominate their opposition.
But it doesn’t always work; when the talent level isn’t there, it’s just not there, as could be the case in a couple of games throughout the tournament when they simply don’t turn up.
It could be a frustrating tournament for their fans, sprinkled with a number of bright moments which undoubtedly will not be forgotten for a long time.
Key player: Chris Gayle
There are so many players who could be classed as the key men to the World Cup campaign for the West Indies, but when you look at this side, it’s going to require regularly good performances from their X-factor players.
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Carlos Brathwaite will all be expected to go big, but in terms of experience and clean striking on the biggest stage of them all, no one comes close to Gayle.
On these small English grounds, if he gets going, he is going to be very hard to stop. Him being at the top of the order can make life a lot easier for his teammates to follow.
Gayle can be hit or miss, but a career strike rate of almost 90 in ODI cricket for over 10,000 runs is a good sign of exactly what he is able to do, with a handful of half-centuries in the IPL proving he is still in good enough touch.
The verdict: The dark horse
The West Indies team could cause an upset in this tournament. A huge one.
Truth be told, I can see them sneaking into the top four, and then from there, in one-off knock-out games, absolutely anything could be possible in the push to the finish line.
We have them to just miss out, but don’t sleep on the powerful Carribean team.