Exciting times ahead in West Indies Cricket

Nicholas Pooran batters the ball. Source: AFP

Whenever Cricket resumes in the World, there are three names that can see the West Indies having hope for the future. Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran are the pinnacle of the batting lineup that can provide some impetus going forward. All three young batsmen from Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago respectively have shown so far in their short careers that they have what it takes to shine on the international stage.

     Having talent is one tool, but it’s all about this talent being harnessed so that a good team can eventually be the final product. Cricket is not an individual sport such as tennis or golf where self fame is the defined glory. A team effort in Cricket is where victories count the most. Over the years we have seen in West Indies cricket where they have had their spontaneous moments on the field. No one cannot forget their T20 World cup triumph in the final over England in 2016, when Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes. That propelled West Indies to their second World T20 title and are the current holders of that format.

      Talent is just one ingredient for success however. The mental aspect is more vital when it comes to coping in international sport. 

     The reason why Hope, Hetmyer and Pooran are singled out from a West Indian point of view is quite simple…they are match winners on their day and have proven that in the last three years at the international level. Shai Hope at 26 years of age has played 31 Tests and although his batting average in the longest form of the game is quite grim, he has shown his potential in Test Cricket. Back in August 2017, his twin centuries allowed the West Indies a come from behind victory over England at Headingley. In his 78 ODI’s so far, his batting average for an opener and wicket-keeper is phenomenal at 52.20. At the top of the order in ODI Cricket, he is the rock and stable opener that the West Indies heavily rely on.

     Shimron Hetmyer at 23 years old has played 16 Test matches so far and like Shai Hope, hasn’t prospered fully yet in this format. However at ODI level, his five centuries from 45 games at an aggressive strike-rate of 107 has definitely proven himself to be more than a pinch-hitter at the top of the batting order. His fifth ODI hundred back in December 2019 against India in Chennai bull-dozed the West Indians to a romping 8 wicket win in the first ODI of that series. The talented Guyanese left-handed batsman must however learn to be more shot-selective, as his strength early on in his innings can also be his weakness.

     Nicholas Pooran hailing out of Trinidad and Tobago is probably the most dangerous young West Indian batsman currently. The 24 year old left-hander from Central Trinidad has not yet played Test Cricket, but in the shorter format he has shown to the World so far his dynamic power hitting, and common sense batting is what West Indies need. His 25 ODI’s has produced almost 1000 runs at close to fifty as a batting average. His maiden ODI century in the 2019 World Cup against Sri Lanka almost pulled off a win for his team when at one stage they were down and out. So far he has played in the majority of T20 tournaments globally as well as the T10 tournament in the UAE in 2019.

     These three players make up the batting core one would think for this young West Indian team over the next decade or so. Talent is just one ingredient for success however. The mental aspect is more vital when it comes to coping in international sport. A recommendation would be for the stars of the past such as Clive Lloyd, Brian Lara and Michael Holding, to maybe visit the camps to share knowledge. This way the knowledge can be imparted and valuable lessons would have been learnt. With the T20 World Cup set in October later this year in Australia, the West Indies are currently ranked tenth in this format. They have shown in their last T20 series in Sri Lanka in March that they have the skill, quality and power-hitting ability to beat any side on their day. Let’s hope for this pandemic to be over with and that Cricket can resume for the sake of every fan and player involved.

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