Windies Need to Raise Their Game for the World Cup
It feels slightly odd to see a cricketing side with the heritage of West Indies languishing in ninth place in the Men’s ODI Team Rankings, yet that is the case. In the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara and Sir Viv Richards, the Windies have given the world some of its most legendary talents. Today’s West Indies side is coming off the back of an ODI series loss against Bangladesh. While that is indicative of the rise of an exciting Bangladesh side, it also marks the culmination of the persistent decline of the Windies.
West Indies would have undeniably fancied their chances when hosting an ODI series against Bangladesh, especially considering how comprehensively they defeated their opponents in the short test series that preceded the limited overs matches. One of those matches ended with West Indies triumphing by a huge margin of an innings and 219 runs, dismissing Bangladesh for paltry scores of 43 and 144 in their two innings. Yet limited overs cricket requires different skills and different mentalities, and that is where Bangladesh demonstrated their superiority. Bangladesh began the series on the front foot, winning by 48 runs. West Indies scraped a dramatic victory by three runs to set up the decider, but Bangladesh kept their resolve and triumphed by 18 runs to claim the series.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup will be hosted by England and Wales in the summer of 2019, so there is plenty of time for teams to reverse their fortunes and uncover new talents. Windies are at odds of 20/1 in cricket betting with bet365 to win their first World Cup since 1979, with the price reflecting that they look far short of the level of favourites England and India. Yet their recent conquerors Bangladesh are available at 50/1, which indicates that there is still a consensus that Windies have the know-how and the potential to improve their form in time for the World Cup.
It is not all doom and gloom for West Indies, despite the series loss. 21-year-old Shimron Hetmyer looks set to be a fixture of Windies’ ODI side, demonstrating his class against Bangladesh with scores of 52, 30 and 125. At the other end of the age spectrum, Chris Gayle remains a player capable of destroying any bowling attack on his day. The series against Bangladesh saw Gayle become the joint highest six-hitter in international cricket, matching Shahid Afridi‘s record of 476 sixes. At 38 years old, it seems inevitable that next year’s World Cup will mark the last chance for Gayle to have his day on the biggest of stages.
It is the bowling that will give West Indies’ fans the greatest concern ahead of the World Cup, with national selectors hopeful that a new star will emerge in the coming months. Against Bangladesh, the pace bowlers were not particularly economical, which could have been forgiven if the concession of runs was coming with the claiming of wickets. Instead, it was the off-breaks of Ashley Nurse that stemmed the tide of runs against West Indies. Still, it is better to get losses like this out of the system with the World Cup still several months away, and Windies’ fans will be hopeful that mistakes can be corrected when they travel to Bangladesh in December for a reverse of the recent fixtures.