Specialists required in T20 Cricket

Chris Jordan celebrates a West Indian wicket. Source: Getty Images.

England were in the Caribbean for two months with our white sandy beaches and clear blue waters to enjoy in-between. Finally this tour has ended for the tourists on a high. After a disappointing Test series lost to the Windies 2-1 and then sharing the honors 2-2 in the ODI series, England whitewashed the home side 3-0 in the T20 International series. Having demolished the West Indies in the final leg of the tour with the T20 series victory, it just goes to show that this form of cricket cannot be taken for granted.

     West Indies on a high after the Test and ODI series, decided to name their ODI core of players for the T20 Internationals. Based on what we all know in T20 cricket, it is a fact that specialist cricketers must be chosen to play this form of the game. West Indies replaced their specialist T20 captain for the last 2 and a half years, Carlos Braithwaite, with the ODI captain Jason Holder. I’m not saying the captaincy change was the problem, as we all know Holder is a good captain, but the nucleus of the team was not ideal in terms of this particular T20 series.

      A first choice wicket taking spinner is Sunil Narine, as his record in international cricket is more than decent with 50 wickets in 48 T20I games for the Windies. He has somehow drifted away from the selectors thinking in recent times. 

     Let’s take a look firstly at the spin bowling department. West Indies decided to rotate Ashley Nurse and Devendra Bishoo. In a previous article, I did mention that West Indies do not have a specialist spinning wicket taker. Ashley Nurse is not a bad off-spin bowler but he is more of a defensive bowler. Bishoo somehow has gone off the radar with his leg-spinners. He often bowls too short and gives the batsmen “freebies” to get out of trouble. A talented leg-spin bowler no doubt, but he must learn to control his deliveries on a good length. A first choice wicket taking spinner is Sunil Narine, as his record in international cricket is more than descent with 50 wickets in 48 T20I games for the Windies. He has somehow drifted away from the selectors thinking in recent times. This is unfortunate because he provides variation with his off-spin and is also a descent batsman that will give any side useful runs. Whether it be lower down the order or opening the batting, he has done it on several occasions with his franchise teams such as Kolkota Knight Riders (IPL) and Trinbago Knight Riders (CPL).

     Taking a look at the batting line-up, the Windies got the opening combination wrong. Shai Hope should have never opened with Chris Gayle at the top of the batting order. Instead, John Campbell should have opened with Gayle, as those two set a good foundation in the ODI series as Campbell’s free scoring allowed Gayle to take his time and then launch as the innings progressed. Shai Hope is not a specialist T20 cricketer and it clearly showed as he did not contribute in these matches. Denesh Ramdin is usually the West Indies wicket-keeping batsman in this form of the game and should be re-selected in the future. Shai Hope is still a developing batsman at international level and should continue doing so in Test and ODI cricket. Jason Holder decided to bat in the top 5 or 6 in this specific series and it did not pay off as he was dismissed cheaply every time he promoted himself up the order. He too isn’t a specialist batsman in T20 cricket and should stick to gluing the lower order where runs are a necessity as well.

     The experimentations in this T20 series for the Windies did not go as planned. Maybe they took it for granted after their very good performances in the Test and ODI series. The Windies became the first team in international T20 cricket to be dismissed for less than 75 in consecutive matches. It was as though they were in a fete match and the batsmen left it to the others to do the job. Every ball they wanted to smash for a boundary but even in the shortest form of the game, rotation of strike is still key and Joe Root did this very intelligently in the second T20 game at St Kitts. This was a series the Windies must learn from and must not be repeated in the future. It’s a version for specialist cricketers and selectors must take note of this too. All in all, the Windies did a very good job if not looking at the T20 matches. Their next assignment is an ODI tri-series in Ireland with Bangladesh as the third team in May. Let’s see how it goes!

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