High expectations of the WI in Bangladesh

Saturday, November 10, 2012

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When the West Indies cricket team last visited Bangladesh a year ago, much of the rest of the world dismissed the contests between 'cellar dwellers' in the ICC international cricket rankings as being of little or no consequence.

Back then, the West Indies won the two-Test series 1-0; the One Day International Series 2-1; and lost the lone Twenty20 International.

From a West Indian point of view, much has changed since then.

To begin with, though they lost to Australia in a three-Test series in early 2012, the West Indies, led by Mr Daren Sammy, were encouragingly competitive. Importantly, back then the West Indies tied the ODI series against Australia.

And though the West Indies lost, as was expected in the cold and damp of May and June in England, analysts again agreed that there was encouraging fight from the team.

Much changed for the better thereafter, with the intervention of regional prime ministers, eventually leading to the return of former captain Mr Christopher Gayle to the team. Readers will recall that Mr Gayle — among the most sought after cricketers on the cash-rich Twenty20 professional circuit — was kept out of the West Indies team for in excess of a year because of a dispute between himself and management.

Strengthened by the return of Mr Gayle, a confident West Indies conquered New Zealand in all formats of cricket in July and August in Florida and the Caribbean.

Pleasing though those triumphs were, of far greater significance was victory in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka early last month.

It was the first major title won by the Caribbean team in eight years (dating back to the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy) and the most prestigious since Mr Clive Lloyd's legendary side won the 1979 ICC World Cup — 33 years ago.

The heady success of recent months means Mr Sammy and his men will be huge favourites when they again take on Bangladesh in that country, starting with the first Test early next week.

Off the field, those with the job of administering and marketing West Indies cricket in the aftermath of the costly squabbles and divisions of recent years will be watching anxiously.

The confidence of Mr Sammy shortly after arriving in Bangladesh a few days ago was unmistakable. "We come here with one mission: to win all three series (Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s) in Bangladesh," he said.

He will be aware that West Indian fans — who at the best of times are extremely hard taskmasters — the West Indies Cricket Board, and curious neutrals will be expecting nothing less.




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