At the start of the 2019 World Cup, West Indies were considered to be one of the dark horses of the tournament. The team had some destructive power in their batting department, some fine all-rounders and pace and penetration in their fast bowling unit. Hopes were further raised after they smashed a very balanced New Zealand side for 421 runs in one of the warm-up fixtures.
After starting the tournament exceptionally well, blowing away Pakistan, West Indies embarked on a lean run, which saw them not winning a single game till the final match of their tournament. There were some close defeats against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand but those were more down to the lack of temperament shown by them.
Here we analyse their performance at the World Cup:
What went right –
The West Indian fast bowlers showed some great promise throughout the tournament, despite being erratic in nature. The performance against Pakistan, in particular, harkened back to the days of the great Caribbean bowlers, who would strike fear in the hearts of the batsmen with a mere stare. Blowing the Men in Green away for 105 was one of the highlights of the tournament. West Indies also found some new stars like Nicholas Pooran in the batting order, who would serve them well for years to come. Carlos Brathwaite’s innings against New Zealand also might signal the coming-of-age of an all-rounder, who has more often than not, flattered to deceive. Overall, the trials and tribulations of the World Cup proved to be good exposure for many of the young Windies stars, which would surely hold them in good stead for the future.
What went wrong –
The tournament again exposed a lack of temperament by the Windies in both the bowling and batting departments. Matches against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand should ideally have ended in their favour, which would have given an entirely new complexion to their performance in the tournament. West Indies tried a variety of pairings in the opening department, but none of them succeeded to an extent which they would have liked. Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope and Sunil Ambris all opened the batting, but none of the pairings could get the Windies off to a desired start. Despite the talents of Shimron Hetmyer and the destructive hitting down the order, they never showed the required patience which would have gotten them closer to a winning position. The tactics of bouncing out the opposition was soon found out and became predictable, especially against Bangladesh. They also suffered from the lack of a quality spinner in their ranks, making their bowling attack look too one-dimensional.
Find of the tournament –
Throughout the tournament, Sheldon Cottrell emerged as a genuine superstar in the bowling department for the Windies. He was always threatening with the new ball, seaming it while his clever variations in the middle-overs and in the death were also hard to pick. Cottrell ended the tournament with 12 wickets in 9 matches in his kitty. Being a left-arm seamer, he adds much-needed variety to their pace bowling attack and with more experience, will only become a more potent weapon in the future. Not to forget, his celebrations with a salute, which became a global viral hit.
Areas for improvement –
The West Indians will need a quality spinner in their ranks to pose a more serious threat to the opposition. Ashley Nurse and Fabian Allen lack the necessary penetration to trouble the batsmen on flat wickets. They will also have to find a long-term replacement for Chris Gayle at the top of the order and stop shuffling the talented Shai Hope around. The likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran will have to assume more responsibility and with some minor tweaks, the Caribbean outfit would have a strong batting core t0 build the team around. Finally, the board will have to ensure that some of the talented players are not lost to the various T20 leagues around the world and continue to stick around to play for the national team.