Last chance: discarded Windies, SA players gets shot at redemption as warm-up series bowls off

By May 22, 2024
KING...it's really about that and trying to finalize everybody's roles and responsibilities going into the World Cup. KING...it's really about that and trying to finalize everybody's roles and responsibilities going into the World Cup. file

Half of their respective squads might be unavailable, but that doesn’t make the three-match warm-up series between West Indies and South Africa any less important, and both will be hoping to make a statement heading into the ICC Men’s Twenty20 (T20) World Cup.

Rovman Powell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Holder, Andre Russell and Alzarri Joseph are out for West Indies, while Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Tristan Stubbs, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada for South Africa. Though all are not still engaged in the Indian Premier League (IPL), some, like Pooran and Hope, are being rested and others, like Rabada, are recovering from illness.

Still, the upside to the contests is that discarded players, and those out-of-form players in the squad, now have an opportunity to convince their coaches –albeit for Thursday’s first game at Sabina Park – as the ICC expects all confirmed squads on Saturday, May 25.

First ball is 2:00pm.

Brandon King, who has been charged with leading the depleted West Indies side, knows that much and, as such, is expecting players to show their worth ahead of the June 1-29 global showpiece to be held in the Caribbean and United States.

Kyle Mayers is one of those discarded players. The Barbadian scored no T20I fifties in 11 innings since touring South Africa in 2023 and was dropped thereafter, but made 243 runs in six innings at the BPL and boasts a T20 strike rate above 150 this year and above 143 from 40 matches last year. With power-hitting among the most talked-about attributes of top-order batters, this is his chance to show he still has it.

Kyle Mayers showed some semblance of form in the BPL.

From a bowling perspective, the likes of Obed McCoy, one of the highest wicket takers in T20Is this year, found no space in a squad that has Alzarri and Shamar Joseph, Russell, Holder and Shepherd. He has an opportunity to show what he can do in home conditions.

“Obviously, it is the last series leading up to the World Cup, so we're looking to implement how we want to play in the World Cup in these three games. So it's really about that and trying to finalize everybody's roles and responsibilities going into the World,” King said in a pre-game press conference at Sabina Park, on Wednesday.

“I’ve had discussions with the coaches and with the other captain [Rovman Powell] and we have specific roles for each player that we would like them to go out and perform and, as I said, we're looking to start that in this series,” he added.

Though it will be his first time leading the regional side on home soil, and the first international game at Sabina Park in a while, King said there is no added pressure.

“Personally, I don't feel any added pressure, I like to be very positive thinking towards these things. It'll be a great memory looking back when you think about it. So, obviously we want to win the games for the fans, but it's just more excitement than pressure,” King declared.

Obed McCoy one of the highest wicket takers in T20Is this year.

“We've been preparing even before this series; we're coming from a training camp as well, so we've gotten a lot of volume in terms of training, so this is just to get some match practice leading up to the World Cup. The guys that are missing are also very experienced players, we've been playing series for the past two years, so their roles I don't think would have changed much and they will fit in when they come,” he shared.

While West Indies came away 2-1 winners in the last three-match series between the two in South Africa, King is by no means expecting their opponents to be even more formidable on this occasion, as they too have much to prove.

“They're a very good team. If you look at the players that they have on paper, it is a really solid eleven that they have, so, we have to be at the top of your game. It's not a team where you can relax or anything because they also play an aggressive brand of cricket, a very positive, confident brand of cricket.

“So, I would say we're looking to exploit our home advantage in this series. The, last time we played in their conditions and we end up winning and so it would be even more positive playing at home,” King noted.

That said, King pointed out that members of the team, like the many fans around the Caribbean and around the world, are eager to see what uncapped West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph has to offer in the game’s shortest version.

The 24-year-old Guyanese rose to prominence after his heroics during the Test series against Australia earlier this year.

“We're also very excited to see what he has. You'll definitely see him in this series at some point, but we're all excited to see what he has to offer,” King ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • All the records broken in Windies' breathtaking performance against Afghanistan All the records broken in Windies' breathtaking performance against Afghanistan

    In a thrilling display of cricket prowess, West Indies shattered records at all angles, and left fans in awe with a phenomenal 104-run win over Afghanistan in their final Group C contest of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Darren Sammy Stadium, in St Lucia, on Monday.

    Here is a look at all the records that were broken during the breathtaking performance.

    Highest total of 2024 T20 World Cup

    West Indies total of 218-5 was the highest total by any team at this edition of the Men's T20 World Cup, surpassing the 201-6 that Sri Lanka managed against the Netherlands, at the same venue, and Australia's 201-7 against England in Barbados.

    Team

    Score

    West Indies

    218-5 v Afghanistan

    Sri Lanka

    201-6 v Netherlands

    Australia

    201-7 v England

    USA

    197-3 v Canada

    Canada

    194-5 v USA

    Highest individual innings of 2024 T20 World Cup

    Nicholas Pooran's outstanding innings of 98 was the highest score by any player at this T20 World Cup, eclipsing the unbeaten 94 USA's Aaron Jones put together against Canada in Dallas.

    Player

    Score

    Nicholas Pooran

    98 v Afghanistan

    Aaron Jones

    94* v Canada

    Rahmanullah Gurbaz

    80 v New Zealand

    Rahmanullah Gurbaz

    76 v Uganda

    Ibrahim Zadran

    70 v Uganda

    Highest Powerplay in Men's T20 World Cup history

    West Indies scored 92 runs during the Powerplay, beating the previous best of 91 by the Netherlands against Ireland at the 2014 edition of the tournament.

    Team

    Score

    West Indies

    92 v Afghanistan (2024)

    Netherlands

    91 v Ireland (2014)

    England

    89 v South Africa (2016)

    South Africa

    83 v England (2016)

    India

    82 v Scotland (2021)

    Highest total for West Indies in Men's T20 World Cups

    The score of 218-5 by the West Indies was the best they have managed at any edition of the T20 World Cup, going past the 205-6 against South Arica in Johannesburg in 2007.

    Opposition

    Score

    Afghanistan

    218-5 (2024)

    South Africa

    205-6 (2007

    Australia

    205-4 (2012)

    India

    196-3 (2016)

    Australia

    191-8 (2012)

    Equal most runs conceded in one over in Men's T20 World Cup history

    An unwanted record for Afghanistan seamer Azmatullah Omarzai, who conceded a total of 36 in one over during the Powerplay. Pooran smashed three sixes and a pair of fours during Omarzai's second over, with some wayward bowling meaning Yuvraj Singh's long-standing record for most runs in one over at a Men's T20 World Cup was equaled.

    Pooran overtook Chris Gayle for most sixes by West Indies player in Men's T20I history

    Pooran hit eight sixes against Afghanistan, taking his tally to 128 in T20I cricket and past West Indies great Chris Gayle's total of 124.

    Player

    Sixes

    Nicholas Pooran

    128

    Chris Gayle

    124

    Evin Lewis

    111

    Kieron Pollard

    99

    Rovman Powell

    90

  • Pooran just shy of century as Windies light up record books in dominant win over Afghanistan Pooran just shy of century as Windies light up record books in dominant win over Afghanistan

    West Indies have sent a huge warning shot to all and sundry in the Super Eight of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, as they eased past Afghanistan by 104 runs in their final group stage encounter at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia, on Monday.

    The win not only ensured that West Indies head into the next phase of the tournament unbeaten, but more importantly, reaffirmed that the Darren Sammy-coached team is a force to be reckoned with, in their hunt for a third T20 World Cup crown. Their two titles to date were won in 2012 and 2016.

    Having already secured qualification in the Super Eight stage, West Indies were chasing form and momentum against Afghanistan in the Group C top-of-the-table clash. However, the co-hosts put to rest any lingering doubt surrounding their title claims with the eye-catching performance that had historians scrambling.

    Nicholas Pooran with a 53-ball 98, including six fours and eight sixes, led the record-breaking charge, as he assumed the record for most sixes in T20I for the Caribbean side. His tally, which now stands at 128 sixes, swept past Chris Gayle’s 124.

    Homeboy Johnson Charles struck 43 off 27 balls including eight boundaries.

    Obed McCoy (3-14) and spinners Gudakesh Motie (2-28) and Akeal Hosein (2-21) then did the damage with the ball.