Colombo: It is not often in recent years that the West Indies have been billed as favourites to win a major cricket title, but skipper Darren Sammy is cautious of the tag ahead of the World Twenty20. "The favourite tag line does not guarantee us a place in the final," Sammy said ahead of the fourth edition of the tournament, which starts in Sri Lanka next Tuesday.
"You have to go out there and play good cricket. We may have the best side on paper, but we have to pull all the resources together and win." The West Indies have struggled to match their overwhelming success of the 1970s and 1980s when their fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen dominated world cricket. With young men in the Caribbean turning to American sports like basketball and baseball, it's been hard to find replacements for the likes of Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards.
But Sammy's men go into the World Twenty20 as the team to beat, looking for their first major title since 2004 when they won the Champions Trophy in England. The presence of explosive batsmen suited to the slam-bang T20 format like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, combined with the guile of prolific spinner Sunil Narine, delighted the skipper. "We have the best spinner right now in T20 cricket in our side and he's been doing really well for us," Sammy told reporters in Colombo on Tuesday night. "The pitches in Sri Lanka will help him and I see him playing a very big role. Chris brings a lot of experience in batting, and we have Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and others who have done so well in the IPL (Indian Premier League). Everyone is aware that this is a wonderful opportunity for us to put a huge smile on our fans' faces. Everyone is keen to do well."
The West Indies are drawn with Australia and Ireland in group B of the preliminary league, with two teams advancing to the Super Eights round. They play their first game against Australia in Colombo on September 22.