DUBAI – West Indies coach Ottis Gibson believes the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy 2013 is an opportunity for the West Indies side to claim its second ICC global trophy in the space of nine months, and is calling on the Welsh public to support the side when it plays South Africa on 14 June in Cardiff.
“I played for Glamorgan in the early stages of my cricket career and people welcomed me into the county. It was a really good time and the people of Wales were nice and good to me. The people there are very passionate about their team. I believe if we can get there early and get the support of the locals that would be great for us,” said Gibson who played two Tests and 15 ODIs for the West Indies between 1995 and 1999.
“I had many highlights from my time there; I got over 60 wickets and made 700 runs in my debut season, so that was a very good start to my county cricket career in the UK. I had a very good time and great experience.
“When I was at Glamorgan, we also had amazing support when we played around the county circuit and at Cardiff Wales Stadium (previously known as Sophia Gardens), and I know that support has continued over the years. It’s a wonderful place for sports and you always feel the passion and love for sports over there,” added Gibson.
The current ICC World Twenty20 champions and ICC Champions Trophy winners in 2004, kick-off their campaign on 7 June at The Oval against Pakistan, and Gibson is confident that this tournament is an opportunity for his side to carry on its winning momentum.
“It is a great opportunity for us. We have quite a few players who have played in England and Wales before.
“The hardest thing will be to get used to the conditions early. But we have quite an experienced one-day outfit at the moment, so once we get there and get acclimatised early we will be OK.
“We believe we can win these big tournaments, having recently done it in Sri Lanka. So, this is something that we are really looking forward to,” the 44-year-old Gibson said.
“In a format like this with the top eight teams in the world it is a bit difficult to choose one. I think the weather is going to play a big part in the tournament, so I believe England could be listed as favourites simply because of the weather conditions and they have been in good form in this format recently. Getting acclimatised to the conditions early will be a huge factor,” admitted the former England bowling coach.
The former West Indies bowler admitted that his needed to improve on its performances in the one-day format, saying: “We haven’t done all that well in the 50-over format recently and that is something we are trying to address. We had some success against Zimbabwe recently at home and that is certainly something that we can build on as we head to England.
“We understand what it will take for us to do well in England and we recognise we will have to be able to bat out the 50 overs, absorb the pressure and be able to catch up at the back end of our innings. We will need a lot of good efforts from the top order to get us in good positions and we believe we have the bowling attack to do very well in the English conditions.”
Although coy as to admit who fans should look out for during the tournament, Gibson admitted that the youth of the West Indies side were the ones to take it forward.
“The team has not been selected as yet so it’s difficult to pick out people and name them.
“However, we have some excellent players who can take West Indies cricket forward. Age-wise and cricket-wise people may say that Kemar Roach is not one of the ‘youngsters’ but he is one of our players who is learning all the time and we expect a lot from him.
“We also have Darren Bravo who is starting to fulfill his promise and we also have young Johnson Charles who got two centuries in about 10 ODIs, and these are players who are learning from the more experienced players in the group,” he added.
Gibson admitted the ICC Champions Trophy was an important tournament ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, saying: “This is a good opportunity for us as a one-day team to see where we are compared to the other guys. This tournament format is similar to how the World Cup is going to be – you have to get out of the group stage to advance to the second phase.
“We hope the success and the experience we had in Sri Lanka will help everybody to stay calm when the pressure is on. Our stated aim is to move up the ranking and this tournament will give us a really good opportunity to see where we are compared to the other teams.”
The ICC Champions Trophy, featuring Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies, will be played across three world-class venues – Cardiff Wales Stadium, Edgbaston and The Oval – over 18 days in this action-packed event from June 6-23. (windiescricket)