SOUTHAMPTON, England – West Indies will hope persistent rain stays away as they renew their mouth-watering rivalry with tournament favourites England tomorrow in a clash expected to be headlined by a battle of the fast-bowlers.
Three of the last four matches in the World Cup have been abandoned as no results due to rain – two without a ball bowled – and with showers all day here Thursday and more forecast for Friday, there are fears the weather could also mar the contest at the Rose Bowl.
Dealt a blow when the elements allowed only 45 balls in their fixture against South Africa on Monday, West Indies are hoping for a full game in order to put their World Cup campaign back on track after their defeat to Australia also helped to derail the promising start.
“I think we want to cover all three departments in terms of batting, bowling and fielding,” captain Jason Holder told the media today.
“We have gone really well with the ball so far, in taking new-ball wickets and bowling two teams out in the games we have played.
“I think in terms of our fielding, we could definitely touch up there, but I think generally over the last couple of months, if you look at our fielding overall, we have improved a lot in this World Cup so far.”
He added: “And as a batting unit, we just had a plan against Australia so if we get ourselves back into that situation, we just need to take a little bit more responsibility and take the game home.”
West Indies were left with only themselves to blame after they botched what should have been a simple run chase after limiting Australia to 288, in their second game.
They were 190 for four in the 35th over but then suffered a middle and lower order collapse, to lose by 15 runs at Trent Bridge.
Holder said the Caribbean side’s batting was one of several improvements made in recent months which needed to be sustained in the ongoing tournament.
“I think there’s always room for improvement. As I said before, we can always take responsibility as batters to see games through, bat very deep,” Holder pointed out.
“As I said before, we’ve always asked the top four batsmen to go down to the 45th over and give ourselves a chance and other guys support them.
“And having said that, I think we have done a lot of great things over the last couple of weeks as well. As I said before, our bowling has been really good. You have seen young Oshane Thomas come alight, Sheldon (Cottrell), and practically all our bowlers have been putting up their hands and doing a fantastic job.”
He continued: “It is just for them to continue that, stay fit and healthy, and then for our batters to keep going. I just think it’s the situation over a long period of time with this tournament, you have to keep your form going and you have to keep hungry for success and keep churning out runs, that is all I can ask for.”
The contest brings together some of the fastest bowlers on show at the World Cup. Jofra Archer, born and raised in Barbados, will spearhead England’s attack alongside Mark Wood – both capable of consistently touching speeds of 95 miles per hour.
Rookie Thomas, meanwhile, along with Cottrell and Andre Russell have all also put their pace on show, roughing up opposing batsmen in hostile spells, to lead West Indies’ attack.
That same aggression saw the Windies draw 2-2 in a tantalizing five-match series in the Caribbean this year and Holder said his side intended to bring the same attacking approach on Friday.
“I think the brand of cricket we have been playing so far in this World Cup, you know what to expect of West Indies now,” he stressed.
“For us, we are not going to back down from the challenge. Most of our guys are always up for the challenge and it is just a matter for us to be smart. And I don’t think there is anything else to be said, just be smart and play the brand of cricket we want to play.”
He continued: “We’ve been getting wickets. I think previously we haven’t been getting wickets in the middle. We have always got wickets with the new ball but previously we haven’t been able to get wickets in the middle overs.
“And it’s been a talking point over the last couple of months in one-day cricket and now in this tournament we have been able to get wickets in the middle overs which has definitely broken the back of most teams.
“I think if we continue in that vein, we will be a force to be reckoned with but we have to take it game by game. This game against England, as I said before, is a very, very important game and we have just got to dot all of our Is and cross the Ts.” (CMC)
SQUADS: ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.