Lord’s, 1973, the third Test versus England – Garfield Sobers closes a day’s play on 31 not out.
Ahh, West Indies. No matter how badly the West Indian board has treated the players over the past 15 years, come T20 World Cups they’ll entertain the fans.
With Phil Simmons at the helm for a second time and a much more competent board, West Indies are building a strong T20 squad in time for next year’s edition of the T20 World Cup. It wouldn’t surprise me if the defending champions went away with the trophy again.
1. Chris Gayle
T20I stats: 1627 runs, 32.54 average, 142.84 strike rate, two hundreds
Where do I even begin on the Universe Boss? A legend of West Indian cricket, Gayle has destroyed many bowlers confidence with his fearless hitting. Smashing 222 runs in the 2012 T20 World Cup including three fifties, Gayle was a crucial part of West Indies lifting the 2012 T20 World Cup.
A man who brought the Gangnam style into the cricketing world, T20 teams need characters and players like Gayle to be successful.
2. Evin Lewis
T20I stats: 934 runs, 32.2 average, 155.4 strike rate, two hundreds
Although he scored a seven-ball duck on T20I debut, Evin Lewis has ensured that Chris Gayle’s absence in the West Indian T20 side hasn’t been felt badly. Just like Gayle, Lewis is a powerful batsman who hits sixes for fun. Out of his 934 T20I runs, 438 of those runs have come in sixes.
Lewis has been a match-winner for the West Indies and if I was being very harsh, I would say he needs to work on strike rotation against spinners. Despite that flaw in his game, Lewis has a fantastic T20I record.
3. Marlon Samuels
T20I stats: 1611 runs, 29.29 average, 116.23 strike rate, ten fifties
The best way to describe Marlon Samuels is when he does well, West Indies do well. Often playing as an accumulator, Samuels has held up an end to allow the likes of Gayle and Lewis to free their arms.
Although Samuels hasn’t been outright consistent, he has turned up when it matters the most – scoring 78 off 56 vs Sri Lanka in the 2012 T20 World Cup final and 85 not out off 66 vs England in the 2016 T20 World Cup final.
4. Lendl Simmons (wicketkeeper)
T20I stats: 1189 runs, 27.02 average, 123.08 strike rate, eight fifties
With most West Indian keepers having poor records with the bat, I’ve gone with part-time keeper Lendl Simmons to be the keeper in the XI. Another accumulator who likes to shuffle around the crease a lot, Simmons has been an excellent player for the Windies in the shortest format.
Originally ruled out of the 2016 T20 World Cup, Simmons would receive a lifeline when Andre Fletcher was injured halfway through the tournament. He would end up smashing 82 off 51 against India in the semi-final at Wankhede as West Indies chased down 193 with two balls to spare.
5. Kieron Pollard
T20I stats: 1123 runs, 23.39 average, 132.27 strike rate, four fifties, 35 wickets, 26.25 average, 8.43 economy
One of the best T20 players of all time, Kieron Pollard walks in at five. Not outrightly consistent with the bat, Pollard is an impact player and a match-winner with bat and ball. Smashing sixes for fun, bowling handy medium-pacers and taking screamers on the boundary effortlessly – will there ever be a T20 specialist with the total package like Kieron Pollard in the future?
Currently captaining the West Indies limited-overs teams, Pollard will have an eye on defending the T20 World Cup crown.
6. Andre Russell
T20I stats: 540 runs, 20.0 average, 151.26 strike rate, zero fifties, 26 wickets, 37.46 average, 9.08 economy
Originally a quick who lingered in the lower order, Andre Russell is one of the most sought-after T20 cricketers in franchise cricket. Having more opportunities up the order in the past few years, Russell has shown his might with the bat – using his brute force to smash sixes all over the park.
Although a ban cost one year of his career due to a doping violation, Russell has come back in stunning fashion and will continue to evolve as a T20 cricketer.
7. Dwayne Bravo
T20I stats: 1151 runs, 23.97 average, 116.97 strike rate, four fifties, 59 wickets, 27.11 average, 8.34 economy
One of the smartest T20 bowlers until date, Dwayne Bravo is an entertainer. Although the strike rate doesn’t show it, Bravo is an aggressive batting option down the order and his smart changes of pace with the ball has seen him pick over 50 scalps in T20 internationals.
Who can forget his champion celebrations during the 2016 T20 World Cup, as Bravo took nine wickets en route to West Indies winning the 2016 edition?
8. Darren Sammy (captain)
T20I stats: 587 runs, 17.26 average, 147.48 strike rate, zero fifties, 44 wickets, 25.36 average, 7.31 economy
Becoming the first cricketer from St Lucia to be named West Indies captain, Darren Sammy has been West Indies’ best skipper in the T20 format. An aggressive captain who has not been shy at speaking up for himself and his teammates, Sammy captained West Indies to two T20 World Cup titles.
Down the order, his unique batting style gave the West Indies a solid finish in the death overs and his off-cutters brought breakthroughs in the middle-overs with the ball.
9. Sunil Narine
T20I stats: 52 wickets, 21.25 average, 6.01 economy
One of the best T20 spinners of all time, Sunil Narine’s career in the shortest format has been fruitful. A mystery spinner, Narine’s many variations (carrom balls and doosras to name a few) bamboozled many batsmen and made the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor look very average.
Although he isn’t the same bowler following a remodelled action, I’m really hoping that Narine takes part in the next T20 World Cup.
10. Samuel Badree
T20I stats: 56 wickets, 21.07 average, 6.17 economy
Badree is a special breed out of the T20 bowlers. A leg-spinner who doesn’t turn the ball much, Badree was a new-ball specialist for Dareen Sammy and would reward the skipper’s faith with wickets.
A match-winner who could change the tide of a game in a few deliveries, Badree was one of many in this XI in order for the West Indies winning the 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cups.
11. Sheldon Cottrell
T20I stats: 36 wickets, 20.5 average, 7.83 economy
Having dismissed the likes of Virat Kohli and Alex Hales twice in T20 internationals until date, Sheldon Cottrell has shown his promise as a seamer. Bowling left-arm seamers, Cottrell uses his natural angles and variations to fox batsmen and taking wickets.
Alongside his handy bowling, Cottrell is well-known for his army-style celebrations in honour of the Jamaican Defence Force.