We can overcome any opposition: Sammy

Looking to regain the ICC World Twenty20 title that West Indies won for the first time under his captaincy in 2012, Sammy says his players' experience in franchise-based T20 tournaments would boost the team's chances.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy addressing a press conference in Kolkata on Tuesday.   -  PTI

West Indies captain > Darren Sammy said his team had reached a stage where it could stake a claim of being the best in the world. The team, having the right mix of talent in every department, could conjure the performance that would re-create the dominance its predecessor enjoyed in the limited-overs format way back in the 70s. Looking to regain the ICC World Cup T20 title that West Indies won for the first time under his captaincy in 2012, Sammy said his team had the momentum to overcome any opposition in the world.

“We dominated the world for a good 17 years. We had some great players and right now we are doing that in T20 cricket. We have 15 potential match-winners and the side is fairly balanced,” Sammy said in the first pre-tournament news conference ahead of the ICC World T20.

“It is one format of the game where we as a team are really confident. When I see the quality in this dressing room, my job becomes very easy as a captain. Ideally we will want to be playing international matches (more as a team) but the fact that our guys play T20 around the world, it is not difficult to adjust,” Sammy said, analysing the strength of his team. The significant presence of Caribbean cricketers in different franchise-based T20 tournaments across the globe is what is adding to Sammy’s confidence. Sammy himself played for Peshawar Zalmi in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL) in UAE.

“We had a week in Dubai and most of the guys were there playing in the PSL. We have given ourselves the best chance of preparing. We believe we could win the World T20,” Sammy said. West Indies has the next best rating after India and is ranked No. 2 in the ICC T20 rankings.

Hoping for a 2012 encore

“When I look in my dressing room, I see >(Chris) Gayle, (Dwayne) Bravo, Andre Russell, >Samuel Badree, Marlon Samuels…all these guys are experienced players. With the help of the coaching staff, we will pick the best combination to face the opposition according to the conditions,” Sammy said, looking up to his colleagues for a repeat of the triumph in Sri Lanka.

A good number of the current players were part of the 2012 winning team, many of whom still retain their value and form in the competitive T20 leagues, giving Sammy the confidence. “We have been playing together for a while. We know the game inside out and it would not be difficult to gel together,” Sammy said.

The captain said the success of the junior team, which won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh barely a month ago, is adding to the seniors’ motivation. “It has been a massive motivation for us to see our youngsters winning the U-19 World Cup. Once your country wins a major event, it elevates nations in the region. Cricket is the glue that unifies the Caribbean. So whichever team does well, it is always a massive plus for the people in the region,” Sammy said.

Missing impact players

Sammy named off-spinner Sunil Narine and all-rounder Kieron Pollard as the two impact players he will be missing. While Narine’s bowling action is under scrutiny, Pollard pulled out citing lack of progress in injury rehabilitation. Batsmen Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo have also pulled out, the former with injury and the latter wishing to focus on other formats of the game.

“We have a really good side. Obviously, it is difficult to replace Pollard and Narine. They were key members on our side when we won the World T20 in 2012. But we have Carlos Brathwaite who has replaced Pollard, and is an exciting all-rounder. I hope he will play a big part in the tournament. There is also (Ashley) Nurse replacing Narine. He brings in his batting capability,” Sammy spoke about the replacements. Wicketkeeper-batsman Johnson Charles comes in for Darren Bravo while the replacement for Simmons is yet to be announced.

West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (c), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor.