Lord’s, 1973, the third Test versus England – Garfield Sobers closes a day’s play on 31 not out.
It’s crazy to think that the West Indies is one of three nations to lift the ICC Cricket World Cup twice or more considering they haven’t won a 50-over World Cup since 1979.
Since winning the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, they’ve struggled for consistency in 50-over cricket, but they’re starting to make some tiny strides again under Kieron Pollard.
My first-choice opener is the man who dubs himself ‘The Universe Boss’, Chris Gayle. An incredible player who has fantastic records in all formats, Gayle is an entertainer. Despite his age, Gayle’s efforts with the bat never withered away although his running is an entirely different issue.
With over 10,000 ODI runs and 25 ODI hundreds for the West Indies, the Universe Boss is a legend of West Indian cricket.
To partner alongside Gayle is Shai Hope. With nine hundreds and 17 fifties in 78 ODIs, Hope has been one of the few consistent performers for West Indies in ODIs recently. Despite a fantastic ODI record to date, many question Hope’s strike rate.
However, his strike rate is lower than usual to hold up an end and allow the power-hitters to strike freely. With 93 dismissals with the gloves, Shai Hope is the gloveman in this XI.
At number three and my captain is Brian Charles Lara. No introduction needed for the legend from Trinidad. A class player who could play all over the ground, Lara was a real tough nut to crack for opposition bowlers. If I could go back in time, I would surely have loved to see Lara bat for days on end.
At number four is the man, the myth, the legend – Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Bloke literally could not care about the batting manual. With one of the most unusual stances ever, Chanderpaul found his own way of scoring runs – ending up as the third-highest West Indian ODI run-scorer.
Chanderpaul was an unsung hero in West Indies winning the 2004 Champions Trophy, scoring 127 runs in the middle order at 63.5.
At number five is Nicholas Pooran. Although he has played a mere 25 ODIs to date, his numbers speak for themselves. Very few players from the West Indies have made an impact on the way Pooran has in the middle order.
The youngster from Trinidad has an average just under 50 and strike rate over 105. With a bright future ahead for Pooran, he can have the same impact AB De Villiers had for South Africa in the middle order for years to come.
My two finishers and all-rounders are Dwayne Bravo and Jason Holder. Both have shown how good they have been with the ball for West Indies, although numbers don’t show their genuine capabilities with the bat. With the likes of Lara, Hope and Chanderpaul stabilising the innings, Bravo and Holder would have the freedom to tee off at the end of an innings.
My frontline spinner is Sunil Narine. Every time he’d come on to bowl, a wicket seemed to be on its way. The bags of tricks Narine had up his sleeve has bamboozled the best of batsmen throughout his ODI career until date.
My three seamers in the XI are Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Mervyn Dillon. While none of these quicks ever matched the legendary status of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose, the trio have all had successful ODI careers – taking a combined 382 wickets.
Here’s how the West Indian XI stacks up:
1. Chris Gayle
2. Shai Hope (wicketkeeper)
3. Brian Lara (captain)
4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
5. Nicholas Pooran
6. Dwayne Bravo
7. Jason Holder
8. Sunil Narine
9. Kemar Roach
10. Jerome Taylor
11. Mervyn Dillon