Berliner Tageblatt - West Indies ready to knock home T20 World Cup 'out of this world'

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West Indies ready to knock home T20 World Cup 'out of this world'
West Indies ready to knock home T20 World Cup 'out of this world' / Photo: © AFP/File

West Indies ready to knock home T20 World Cup 'out of this world'

It is heaping a lot on to the shoulders of a player who has only played three T20 internationals but West Indies' hopes of triumphing in their home World Cup may just rest with young fast bowler Shamar Joseph.

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The 24-year-old from Guyana may be inexperienced in this form of the game with only six matches to his credit, including one chastening outing for Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL, but he has pace.

Just as England were so keen to have Jofra Archer back in their ranks, so the West Indies want Joseph.

They know that in any form of the game pace is a match-winner which is why he got the nod ahead of another young quick Matthew Forde.

"Shamar Joseph has the pace, he has skills with the new ball," said coach Daren Sammy when he named the squad.

"Not saying Matthew Forde doesn't but when you look at the role, it makes it easier for us to now pick the personnel to fit that role."

Joseph, who had been working as a security guard a year earlier, hit the headlines in January when he ripped through Australia's much-vaunted batting line-up to win a Test in Brisbane.

Playing in only his second Test, Joseph took 7-68 as the West Indies won by just eight runs, their first win in Australia since 1997.

It was a compelling performance which showed that Joseph had the game and technique, not to mention a nose for the theatrical, for the grand arena.

The objective for the West Indies, who are in Group C with Afghanistan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, is evidently to become the first team to lift the T20 World Cup three times -- they enjoyed successes in 2012 and 2016, when Carlos Brathwaite smashed England's Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes in the last over to win the final.

Johnson Charles and Andre Russell, one of the most accomplished all-rounders in the format, played in both of those victories and are back again for another tilt.

- Home 'motivation' -

However, the pressure of playing in their own back yard could prove a burden.

Even with Brian Lara in their side, they flopped when they hosted the 2007 ODI World Cup.

"It is not going to be easy, but we are one of only two nations to have won it twice so we are going to try and make it three," said former fast bowler Curtly Ambrose who was bowling coach in 2016.

"And no other nation has ever won it (T20 World Cup) on home soil, so all that is motivation for the guys to do well."

Another pressure is recent history. Since that 2016 win, things have gone downhill steadily for a side that once ruled the cricket world.

The West Indies badly flunked the last two T20 World Cups.

Kieron Pollard's team was eliminated in the group stage in the UAE in 2021 with just one win, while Nicholas Pooran's side failed to qualify for the main round in Australia a year later.

Worse than that, West Indies did not even qualify for the ODI World Cup in India last year.

Ambrose, however, prefers to accentuate the positive saying the West Indies "have a very, very good team".

"Once the guys start playing consistent cricket and smart cricket, I believe we can take the trophy," he added.

There is certainly plenty of match-winning talent in the side.

Left-hander Pooran had an impressive IPL, scoring 499 runs at a strike rate of 178.21 for Lucknow Super Giants, is the lynchpin of the middle order, although Shai Hope and skipper Rovman Powell are both proven performers.

Meanwhile, Shamar Joseph, assuming he plays, and fellow fast bowler, his unrelated namesake Alzarri Joseph, will give them some enviable firepower with the ball.

"What we've been able to do throughout the last year as a T20 group, the players we've exposed, has brought us to this moment," said Sammy. "And I think we're about to knock it out of this world."

T.Bondarenko--BTB