The West Indies, the two-time Twenty20 world champion, beat Australia by 16 points in the fifth Twenty20 International (T20I) at Darren Sammy Stadium in Saint Lucia on Saturday to win the Series 4-1. During the white ball streak, Chris Gayle became the first player to score 14,000 T20 points while Hayden Walsh Jr capped a memorable outing with 12 wickets at a saving rate of 7.00. Its bowlers took quick wickets and the batsmen staged a power show as the West Indies sent a warning to their rivals ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Former West Indies fast pitcher Ian Bishop, who was in Saint Lucia to comment on the T20Is, talks about the team’s chances at the World Cup and the influence of the T20 leagues on Caribbean cricket and vice versa.
Q. They are a strong Caribbean T20 team, and a number of players are in the twilight of their careers. Does that make them a more dangerous team in a tournament than in a bilateral series?
A. I don’t know how much more formidable or dangerous the West Indies will be just because they will be playing in a tournament format. It is already a very experienced team. This comes with a calm and match-situation know-how that younger teams may lack. But it could also mean that other things like them really have to manage their fitness and agility.
The West Indies are the first nation to win the T20 world title twice. Would you call them the best team in T20I history?
It is difficult to determine which team is the best when you have to compare international cricket and franchise cricket. Some of the same players from the West Indies have also contributed to the success of some of the best franchise teams. So, to me, these comparisons are odious. The West Indies have won the ICC T20 World Cup twice. No other team has done it yet, so their place in history is indisputable until someone else does more.
READ ALSO – T20 WC: England, the West Indies among the favorites in ‘Group of Death’
Do you think Caribbean bowlers have been relatively eclipsed by the belligerence of their fellow hitters in the T20s? Are there any specific bowlers you can’t wait to see at World T20?
Drummers typically in T20s get more applause. It is no different in the Caribbean. But players like Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree made sure the bowlers got some of the spotlight. The bowling group has been as essential to two World Cup wins as the batters, if not more. Obed McCoy is a young fashion designer who will be interesting to watch at the World Cup if he makes the trip.
Kieron Pollard and Gayle. How important will these two men be to the West Indies in October?
We have to wait and see how the selection goes before we start discussing both Pollard and Gayle at the World Cup. Even more so in the case of Gayle. So I prefer not to take the plunge. But Gayle around the team adds a lot of experience. If he can find enough good form to be selected, he will be an asset to the team.
Considering the number of West Indians playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), would you say this year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates is no longer taking place under foreign conditions?
Of course, the conditions in the UAE will be familiar to many players, either because of the IPL or T10 tournaments that have been played there lately. But we still have to adapt. In addition, there will be one or two other sites which will be new to most players.
The experiences in the T20 leagues have almost been a T20 finishing school for West Indian cricketers, says Ian Bishop. – GETTY IMAGES
To what extent is the success of the West Indies T20 due to the fact that many cricketers play for different national teams around the world?
Playing in other leagues around the world has greatly benefited players in the West Indies. This allowed them to gain valuable experience playing against different players, terrains and mobs. These experiences in these leagues have almost been a T20 finishing school and have polished off these wonderful talents. However, it must be remembered that these leagues benefited from these wonderful Caribbean talents sharpened in the Caribbean. Misunderstanding.
ALSO READ – Sri Lanka cannot be in a transition phase forever – Mickey Arthur
Is there a parallel between county cricket benefiting the West Indies test team in the 1970s and 1980s, and the T20 leagues contributing to its success today?
In a sense, the experience paralleled when many West Indians traveled to the UK to play on the County Tour. This has helped refine and develop many West Indian cricketers. The counties have also benefited from these actors. Now, maybe it’s the same scenario with the West Indians in the myriad of T20 leagues.
Do you think the T20 format has helped make cricket more attractive to young Caribbean athletes?
I believe T20 cricket across the world has been successful in attracting a newer or different audience. The financial rewards and concise time of a match certainly made it more accessible to young fans. So many kids now love the different strokes and the fast paced cricket action. It’s a game adapted to the times we live in and maybe versions of it will become even more mainstream in the years to come.