West Indies captain Darren Sammy said on Tuesday his team is confident of winning a second World Twenty20 title, comparing his squad to the Caribbean team of the 1970s and 80s that dominated the longer formats.
“We dominated the world for a good 17 years,” Sammy said at a news conference. “We had some great players. Right now we are doing that in Twenty20 cricket as we have 15 potential match-winners.”
The second-ranked West Indies team, which won the World T20 title in 2010, has a number of big-hitters and allrounders.
Sammy identified opener Chris Gayle as the biggest threat to other teams while naming Andre Russell, Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels as players to watch in the 16-team tournament which began with a preliminary qualifying league on Tuesday.
“It’s one format of the game we are really confident about. When I see all this quality in the dressing room, my job becomes very easy as a captain. I don’t have to tell these players how to go about it. They are seasoned and know their jobs.
“Chris is a massive figure not only on the field but off the field as well. To me he’s the best Twenty20 batsman, the most destructive one,” Sammy said about the left-hander who tops the list of six-hitters in the tournament with 49.
Gayle is also second on the list of runs scored in the tournament with 807 in 23 games. Retired Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene is the only one to score more runs with 1016 in 31.
Sammy said the experience of playing in the Indian Premier League should help the team.
“The good thing for us is that we have so many guys who are familiar with the conditions. Many of our cricketers are playing in the IPL. It’s about adjusting quickly,” Sammy said.
He said a pay dispute with their cricket board in the run-up to the tournament was behind them.
“Once you step out on the cricket field you should not be worried about contracts and other stuff. It’s about making your country proud. This event means a lot to us as a group. The next World Twenty20 is in 2020 and a few of our guys won’t be part of that event so this one is very important for us,” Sammy said.
The West Indies’ campaign opens with a Group 1 match of the Super 10s against former champion England in Mumbai on March 16. Sri Lanka, South Africa and a qualifier complete their group.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport