West Indies can cause a shock – and perhaps even win – the World Cup, according to the England and West Indies coaches.
While West Indies’ recent record is not promising – they have not won a bilateral ODI series since 2014, have won only two of their last seven completed ODIs and are currently ranked No. 9 in the world – the coaches of both sides in the current series in the Caribbean believe they are a fast-improving, dangerous side who could beat “anyone on their day”.
“I know the right West Indies combination with a fully focussed side can beat anyone on their day,” Richard Pybus, West Indies’ interim coach, said. “I wasn’t at the World Cup qualifiers but, with the group of guys we have now, we feel confident could take down anyone on their day.”
Key to West Indies’ improved confidence is the return of several high-profile players. Darren Bravo returned in December, Chris Gayle returned for this series – and has responded with a century and half-century – while Andre Russell is expected to return for the fourth ODI in Grenada on Wednesday. As a result, West Indies look as if they have the firepower to damage more opponents.
“The West Indies have been playing some decent cricket over the last 18 months,” Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, agreed. “With the size of their batters and the way some of them hit the ball they can be a chance of winning that World Cup.”
While he was unable to confirm whether Gayle had done enough to cement his place as opener at the World Cup, Pybus did say he had made a “very resounding case” and defended his somewhat careful starts in each of the first two ODIs.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the selectors but I think Chris has put forward a very resounding case,” Pybus said. “He’s just class really. It’s always great having guys in your side who are a bit scary for the opposition who know full well what they can deliver.
“In those first two games, Chris was getting a feel for a spongy wicket batting first. It can be a game of two halves in Barbados. He was playing himself through. But, as we have all seen in T20, he can attack that first powerplay brutally. On good wickets he’ll be going hard pretty early.”