The West Indies can win the World Cup but they must play disciplined cricket and stick to the fundamentals, says former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Tino Best.
“Our players have the skills to win the World Cup but they must stick to the fundamentals and adopt a disciplined approach in their game. Once they do so, I think our boys can get into the semifinals and then win the tournament,” Best told Barbados TODAY in a telephone interview from Ireland where he is doing television commentaries on the Tri-Nation Series involving Ireland, West Indies and Bangladesh.
“The West Indies’ batsmen must refrain from being overly aggressive like if they are playing in Twenty20 competition. In a One-Day International there are 50 overs for the batsmen to bat. We are naturally aggressive cricketers, our batsmen love to entertain the spectators and hit the ball out of the ground. It is in our DNA to hit the ball hard but we are playing for World Cup glory and the West Indies batsmen should not go out there and play million dollar shots. I think once our cricketers play smart cricket that is also attractive, the West Indies can upset the favourites in the tournament because our players have the skills to be champions,” he added.
He lauded openers Shai Hope and John Campbell for their record-breaking partnership of 365 against Ireland in the first match of the Tri-Nation Series.
“I think the batting of Hope is truly remarkable at the moment. He is in tremendous form at the moment. Shai has to be ranked among the top five batsmen in the world. I will boldly sate that based on his current form only Virat Kohli is above him. I was very surprised he was not selected to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but I am glad he is playing in the Tri-Nation Series which is good preparation for him going into the World Cup. I first saw him bat when he was boy way back in 2004 and even then Shai was a talented player, therefore I am not surprise at anything this young man does with his bat,” the former pacer said.
He heaped praise on Campbell and said the young left-handed opener was a fine example of what former president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron and president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) Wavell Hinds were trying to achieve by creating the Professional Cricket League.
“I was really impressed with the way Campbell batted, it says a lot for the Professional Cricket League. I think batsmen such as Campbell are hungry for big scores at the international level. Campbell is a product of that system and I am very impressed with him. We are going to see a lot more young cricketers coming to the fore that are hungry to score runs and take wickets at the international level. They are going to have this mind set due to the fact that they are professional cricketers from a young age. Chris Gayle is on his way out, and I think Campbell is a star in the making. Once he continues to be a humble, hard working cricketer, he will grow leaps and bounds,” Best said.
He described the West Indies squad for the World Cup as a balanced one even though he had reservations about a couple of the players in the team.
“The selection of Fabian Allen was a bit surprising to me. I thought the selectors would have gone with Roston Chase to back up the middle-order just in case Hope was batting at number three or four. I thought Chase could have challenged Ashley Nurse for the position of off-spinner in the team. Chase is more than a handy off-spinner, he recently took eight wickets in a Test match against England, so he is a capable off-spinner. I think the selectors chose a very good squad that included stars such as Gayle and Andre Russell who can be very destructive with bat as well. Then there are the budding stars such as Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmeyer who will impress on the World Cup stage,” Best said.
However, he admitted that he had concerns over the West Indies bowling attack and lamented the lack of a quality spinner in the squad.
“Everyone knows what Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder can do with the new ball and young Oshane Thomas bowled very fast in the recent ODI series against England. But our bowling is still a concern for me. I believe that if our bowlers don’t take wickets with the new ball, teams will try to bat us out of the game because we don’t have a frontline spinner. It is very disappointing to me that Sunil Narine is not the kind of destructive spinner like he was a few years ago. I am very disappointed that at the moment we really don’t have any wicket-taking spinners apart from Nurse who takes wickets but is very expensive. I wish we had a top-class spinner in the mold of Narine who gets wickets at a good economy rate, a spinner who even if he is not taking wickets can create pressure on the batsmen. This is the only major flaw in my opinion in the West Indies World Cup Squad,” Best said.
“The game against Bangladesh clearly showed that West Indies were lacking a top-class spinner even though we did not score enough runs. The Bangladesh batsmen saw off the threat of the seamers, and after that there were no back-up bowlers. Not having a real top class spinner could be a chink in the armour of the West Indies during the World Cup. Be that as it may, I have the West Indies as my favorites to lift the trophy. I think they are a talented team but cricket is played on the day, I hope our boys will make the people of the region very proud during the World Cup,” Best said