West Indies have not won a One Day International (ODI) series against England since 1998 but this startling statistic has not stopped their captain Jason Holder from believing that his team will be competitive against the number one ranked ODI team in the world in their five-match ODI series which starts at Kensington Oval tomorrow.
“We are pretty confident going into the game. We had a good Test series against England, winning the series will give us some momentum. Obviously, we got some experience within the dressing room. We pack a heavy punch in terms of our team, Chris (Gayle) is coming back into the side and we’ve got Carlos (Brathwaite) at the backend, we all know what these guys can do. I am really excited about the challenge ahead,” Holder told reporters after the West Indies completed their net session at Kensington Oval this afternoon.
Holder said that his bowlers had to be clinical if the West Indies were going to win the series because England’s batting was very deep.
“England bats very deep and is the number one side in the world for a reason. We have to be very precise with bowling plans and make sure we execute them in a manner that will restrict England as much as possible. I think the way one-day cricket has been played in the last couple of years, 300 runs or 320 is almost a par score in an ODI match. We have to very strict with our plans come tomorrow,” Holder said.
He stated that being rated as the underdogs in the series was not a bad tag to have because it placed less pressure on his team and more on England.
“So we just got to go out there and play the cricket we want to play and execute whatever plans we come up with in the dressing room,” Holder said.
He hinted that rookie opener John Campbell might open the batting with Gayle, adding they were the only two openers in the squad and should have a bit of chemistry being two Jamaicans.
When questioned as to if he thought Gayle could still be a potent force in limited overs game, the captain said: “I think so, if he was not, he probably would not have been in the squad. He has done a lot for us in the last couple of years and it is good to see him fit and playing so I expect a really good showing from him, he is up to the challenge as well.”
He described the series as a very important one since it was probably the West Indies’ last ODI series before the World Cup which is being held in England from May 30 to July 14.
“It is the last opportunity for the guys to show what they have, and for us to use combinations for the World Cup. Be that as it may, it is still a series that we are playing and it is more important for us to win the series and play some really good cricket,” Holder said.
Holder added it was good to have fast bowler Oshane Thomas in the squad. “It is good to have a guy like Oshane in the squad. He is obviously an expressive bowler, he is pretty quick and pretty sharp. So it is hoping he can make early inroads into England’s batting lineup and cause them a few problems,” Holder said.
Holder also pointed specifically to the Windies death bowling as an area which needed improvement in the series.
“It’s obviously been an area we’ve had some trouble with in the past and we’ve had long discussions about what we want to do in terms of our plans,” he explained.
“And it’s very, very simple: keeping a very clear mind at the top of your mark and not being double-minded. I think that’s one of the things that have probably hampered us in the past – just having a clear mind at the top of our mark – and executing and committing to our plans.”
The captain also spoke highly of Shimron Hetmyer, describing him as “an explosive player”.
“Hopefully, he can bat us into a position. Guys like Shai Hope and Chris (Gayle) can all bat around him, help him along and teach him. I think we’ve got some versatility within our lineup. A young guy like Nicholas Pooran who packs a real heavy punch and is very exciting as well, so a lot will be asked of him to control the middle order and finish off the innings for us as well,” he remarked.
Holder, who last featured in a One Day International against India last November, also expressed eagerness to play again.
“Yeah, it was tough watching the Test match in St. Lucia, obviously very hungry to get back in the park, looking forward to the one-day challenge having not played one-day cricket for a while, missing the last series in Bangladesh due to being injured.”
Asked about starting the series at Kensington Oval, Holder responded: “I think it is an added boost. We got a few Barbadians in the squad, all of the guys have played here, some of them have had some really good success here as well, so psychological it is a good boost.”
SQUADS: WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, John Campbell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Nicholas Pooran, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.
ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.