Guarding against complacency will be the main priority for West Indies when they clash with Ireland in the first-ever full One-Day International series between the two sides starting at Kensington Oval tomorrow.
West Indies have lost just one of 10 meetings with the Irish and having won their last three encounters by significant margins, enter the three-match rubber as heavy favourites.
However, Ireland have been known for springing surprises and captain Kieron Pollard said his side would not be resting on their laurels, as they chased an important series result.
“That’s one of the things we spoke about at the start [of preparation], the complacency no matter who we play against or where we play and the opposition,” Pollard said ahead of tomorrow’s international.
“Again, it’s an opportunity to showcase your talent, an opportunity for you to go out and give … yourself the opportunity to perform, or the people of the Caribbean or the selectors something to think about. You never know when it’s going to happen for you.
“So it doesn’t matter who you play against, you have to give that same sort of intensity and complacency is something we don’t want to accept in this camp. It has been spoken about quite a lot and it’s going to be spoken about throughout the entire series.
“At the end of the day, India could’ve thought the same thing about us [in the recent series]. We’re ranked number 10, they coming to play against us and they saw the fight that we had.
They (Ireland) may come with the same sort of mentality so it’s for us to build on what we have done and continue to improve and continue to find that way to continue to win games and get that winning mentality back into the camp,” Pollard said.
West Indies are coming off a 2-1 series defeat to the sub-continental powerhouses in the three-match series last month, and will view Ireland as a crucial opportunity to rebound.
After whitewashing Afghanistan in a three-match series last November, the Caribbean showed plenty of heart against the Indians and Pollard said extending that momentum would be important to efforts to mould the side into a winning unit.
“We’ve started a process and it’s been going pretty well so far,” the Trinidadian all-rounder explained.
“I’m very, very pleased and I said at the end of the last tour that I’m not disappointed with the guys and the effort they actually showed throughout the two months in India, in the Afghanistan and India series, and again it’s work to build on.
“We’ve identified areas where as a team we need to improve and again, it’s about improvement each and every time we get that opportunity to play cricket and represent West Indies.”
West Indies field the same squad which faced India last month, minus Test captain and fast-bowling all-rounder Jason Holder who has been rested. Their attack will be led by flamboyant left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell and is stacked with the likes of Test seamer Alzarri Joseph, fast-bowling all-rounder Keemo Paul and rookie pacer Romario Shepherd.
And though the emphasis will be on pace, Pollard warned it would not be a case of simply trying to blast Ireland out.
“We can go with pace, we can go with spin, we can go with all-round ability. That’s the nature of what we have in our camp,” he pointed out.
“It’s a matter of when we see the Kensington pitch and when we play that first game, see what it (pitch) has to offer. For us we have a game plan of how we want to play and if that on the day is about bowling fast and being aggressive, then so be it.
“We try to analyse as we go along and not try to preempt too many things. It’s about cricket, it’s on the day, it’s about what is necessary. Sometimes you turn up, the pitch is docile, you have to be disciplined and bowl line and length.”
Meanwhile, head coach Phil Simmons has stressed he wants his side’s new “never-say-die” attitude to continue against Ireland. He said he expected to see some more of what his charges demonstrated in the recent series against India.
“The way we played the cricket, the attitude we had on the field and the never-say-die attitude even when India were going well, are all things we need to continue doing well.
“I think every series we need to be looking to get that one per cent better in everything we do, so that is what I expect to see from them in this Ireland series,” Simmons said.
The former coach of Ireland added: “Ireland are a good team. They are resilient and they will give you a very good run. They are capable of beating any team. We have to make sure we are at our best when we meet them . . .”
The match is a day/night encounter that bowls off at 1:30 p.m.
SQUADS: WEST INDIES – Kieron Pollard (captain), Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh jr.
IRELAND – Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Mark Adair, Gareth Delany, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.