T20 World Cup: Former assistant batting coach Radford decodes the Windies of 2021

Toby Radford was part of the West Indies support staff in the T20 World Cup in 2012.

Shimron Hetmyer and Kieron Pollard during the warm-up match against Pakistan in Dubai this week.   -  AP

It was the final of the World T20 in 2012. Batting first at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, West Indies took 17 balls to get off the mark. They were 14/2 after the powerplay and had limped to 32/2 in 10 overs.

Sri Lanka held all the aces till Marlon Samuels decided to explode on a slow wicket. He scored a dominating 78 off 56 balls, punctuated by half a dozen sixes, to lift his side to 137.

Sri Lanka was bowled out for 101 as West Indies won its maiden world championship title after 1979.

Toby Radford, a former Middlesex and Sussex batsman, worked as the assistant batting coach of the Caribbeans. He reminisced about Samuels' innings and the match simulation training nine years ago. "The bigger the game, the more Marlon stood up. He was a warrior, and he loved the big stage," said Radford.

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"He was a Test player, and he could cope with the quality of spin and get you back in the game. But he was also very destructive later on. That ability to work in first and second gear to steady the team and then to press the foot on the pedal towards the end is what made him so valuable."

West Indies had a camp in Barbados before the 2012 World T20, and Radford suggested to then-head coach Ottis Gibson that the team simulate realistic scenarios. "Marlon went out at No. 3 and lasted two balls in the first two of those intra-squad games. And he used to walk off, livid with the fact that he was only getting to face two balls. Funnily enough, we ended up being in the same scenario in the World T20 final, and there, under pressure, Marlon knew how to deal with it."

Radford felt Lendl Simmons could play Samuels' role in the current West Indies T20 side. "I like the way Simmons plays. He can do both. Marlon played spin well, and he used his feet to hit the spinner over his head or milk him for singles. Simmons could be destructive when he needs to be, and when the spin comes on, he can negotiate well."

West Indies has entered the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman as the defending champion. Captain Kieron Pollard felt the ability to tailor their game to situations while not giving up on the primary strength of power-hitting would define his team's campaign, as it aims to seal its third T20 world title. "We have a lot of powerful guys in the line-up, but if the situation warrants, we also have guys who can manoeuvre strike, run between the wickets. We look forward to playing complete games of cricket," Pollard had said.

Radford feels on the sluggish pitches in the UAE, the size of the boundaries will matter. "Given where this T20 World Cup is being held, I think that boundary size is going to play a part. We played in the UAE four years ago [West Indies tour of United Arab Emirates 201/17] against Pakistan.

"Mickey Arthur and his team were well aware that the big six-hitting batters liked the smaller boundaries, but the boundaries were all pushed back; they were virtually 80 yards... There was still an element of ego among the Windies batters - 'I am still going to clear that '... there is no way you can clear that boundary; they were getting caught 20 yards off the rope. You must be prepared to run ones and twos, some of them didn't want to do that. Pakistan didn't look for biggies, they went two, two, and won the game easily. If the boundaries turn out to be big, the West Indies has to adapt."

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Chris Gayle is 97 runs short of becoming the leading run-getter in the T20 World Cups. He missed the last stages of the UAE-leg of IPL as he left the Punjab Kings set-up due to bio-bubble fatigue. "We all know what Chris is capable of," Radford says. "Where Chris finds it difficult is maybe physically in the field, running between wickets. You've to weigh Chris's ability to win you the game by hitting the ball out of the ground against if he is going to cost you runs in the field. He is a match-winner."

Radford also underlined the importance of using spin well. West Indies have a finger spinner in Roston Chase, while Hayden Walsh Jr brings in the wrist spin variety. At the 2016 World Cup in India, West Indies had relied on Samuel Badree's leg-spin. Radford praised Badree while highlighting the significance of the wrist spinners. "Not just 2016, when I was with the team at the 2012 World Cup, Badree played a big role. By the time the teams figured out what he was bowling — very accurate, skiddy leg-spinners — two overs were gone, and you were suddenly playing an 18-over game. West Indies recently played Hayden Walsh, and he did well. I love the idea of having a good leg-spinner. Lots of right-handers don't play the leg-spin well, some don't pick googlies. It gives you a wicket-taking option."

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