(JAMAICA GLEANER) -It might sound paradoxical, but in a strange way, Twenty20 cricket has emerged as destroyer and saviour of West Indies cricket.
Destroyer in the sense that it has effectively captured the hearts and passion of an entire generation of regional players, who could not care less about playing traditional Test cricket, saviour in the sense that the very same heart and passion for Twenty20 cricket by the modern players have led to us producing some of the best Twenty20 players in the world, which has resulted in the West Indies now having one of, if not the best, Twenty20 teams in the world.
It is absolutely refreshing to see the West Indies entering an international tournament as genuine contenders. I will go even further by stating that the West Indies should win the World T20. The 15-man squad heading to India is full of tried and proven matchwinners.
I have counted at least 10 individuals in that squad who, on any given day, can single-handedly win a game against any opposition. I venture to say there are more potential and proven matchwinners in this West Indies squad than in any other squad, including India, playing at home, and the powerful Australians.
CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERS
The objective must be for the entire team to click on all cylinders and produce overall matchwinning performances game after game but, realistically, that is not going to happen. The more realistic ask is for at least one of our stars to put their hand up and produce one match-winning performance in every single game.
It should be an understanding in that West Indies dressing room that at least one of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Jerome Taylor, Sunil Narine and Kierron Pollard, pending availability, be obligated, by professional responsibility, to produce at least one big performance per game.
The eligibility of Narine will be the key. The psychological impact of having our mystery bowler in the team will be immeasurable, even if the adjustments to his bowling action affect his execution even at 60 or 70 per cent Narine will still be a real threat.
Pollard has been out of cricket for a while, but he is such a physical specimen and natural athlete, a perfect fit for this explosive format of the game, his reintroduction could very well be seamless. Worst case scenario should these two are unavailable, there is the emerging Carlos Brathwaite and Johnson Charles, a member of the 2012 winning team, both waiting in the wings.
I have said and written some mean things about West Indies cricket in recent times, all justified and fair, in a context where the Windies continue to embarrass the people of the region in the longer versions of the game. I am now a full convert from traditional Test and ODI cricket to T20, as far as the West Indies team in concerned.
The importance of winning this particular title, at this point in time, is crucial for the West Indies cricket brand. The sooner we realise and admit that we are a hopeless and pathetic embarrassment in Test and ODIs, it should be clearer to all that winning the World T20 would mean so much more to the region and its people, as they yearn to stand tall and proud again. GO WINDIES!