The two-time World Cup winners had to play in the qualifiers to enter the mega event last time but with the advent of some powerful hitters such as Andre Russell and Chris Gayle, West Indies arrives in England as a dangerous and unpredictable side that poses a serious threat to the top contenders.
The recent resolution of a long-running pay dispute between the players and West Indies Cricket Board has boosted the Caribbean side. The absence of Gayle, Kieron Pollard, and Dwayne Bravo in the national side severely hurt its identity as a force to reckon with in world cricket in the recent past.
The recent form of potential match-winners Chris Gayle and Andre Russell in Indian Premier League-2019 offer plenty of hope to the West Indies which is on a resurgence.
Gayle, who will be playing his fifth and probably the last World Cup, has been appointed skipper Jason Holder’s deputy. He is entering the marquee event with the tag of being by far the most experienced player in the West Indies World Cup squad with 10,151 runs in 289 ODIs.
Andre Russell has got the capability to play powerful shots and turning the match in his team’s favour. With the ball, he can spearhead a genuinely fast bowling attack that also includes the dangerous 22-year-old paceman Oshane Thomas and 31-year-old Shannon Gabriel. Thomas has claimed 15 wickets in nine ODI matches he has played so far.
The presence of Shimron Hetmyer along with Shai Hope brings confidence to the batting line up. Hetmyer holds an impeccable record of 100-plus strike rate in both ODI and T20Is while Hope has smashed six ODI tons in his career at an impressive average of 51.06. In Evan Lewis, the team has a consistent opening batsman.
Even if the one or two top-order batsmen fail to perform, the West Indies middle order still has the potential to put up a challenging total on the scoreboard. All-rounders Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Russell can build on the momentum and move towards both putting a winning total on the scoreboard and chasing down a competitive score.
In the bowling department, Holder and Kemar Roach hold the key. With his medium pace, Russell can prove lethal in overcast conditions. West Indies would also want pacer Sheldon Cottrell to come good in England.
However, the team lacks a decent spin attack. Ashle Nurse, who has taken 49 wickets in 50 ODI matches, is the only experienced spinner in the squad. Left-arm spinner Fabian Allen has played only seven matches and has taken one wicket so far.
With power hitters and decent all-rounders, can West Indies repeat what it did in the first two World Cups back in the 1970s?
West Indies World Cup Squad
Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach, Darren Bravo, Andre Russell, Shai Hope, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shannon Gabriel, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Shimron Hetmyer, Fabian Allen, Oshane Thomas, Nicholas Pooran.