Windies ready for New Zealand warm up, unbothered by lack of time in the middle

By Courtesy of May 27, 2019
West Indies players go off the field as groundsmen bring on the covers after rain stopped play during the Cricket World Cup warm up match between West Indies and South Africa in Bristol, England, Sunday, May 26, 2019. West Indies players go off the field as groundsmen bring on the covers after rain stopped play during the Cricket World Cup warm up match between West Indies and South Africa in Bristol, England, Sunday, May 26, 2019. AP Photo

West Indies captain Jason Holder has asserted that his side are sufficiently prepared for this summer's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, despite them going wicketless in a rain-affected warm-up bout against South Africa. 

On a frustrating day in Bristol which saw showers halt play on several occasions, South Africa breezed to 95/0 inside 13 overs, before an extended downpour put an end to proceedings entirely.

Holder was not concerned about the dearth of match practice for his team prior to the tournament however, citing some of his players' recent IPL campaigns and West Indies' tri-series in Ireland as reason to believe that they are suitably equipped. "We are absolutely not (undercooked)," he said to reporters on Sunday.

"We just came from Ireland, we had a series there, we’ve had a lot of cricket leading up to this. A lot of the guys have been playing IPL cricket and everybody has been playing cricket leading up to the tournament.

"We are well attuned to the conditions and we are just looking to start the tournament."

While insisting that the side are "under control", Holder did stress the importance of getting some play under their belts when they take on New Zealand tomorrow, also at Bristol, in their second and final warm-up.

"It just wasn’t our day," he said. "We are under control, but we are just in a situation where we need to get some cricket in in the next two days against New Zealand."

Holder praised the efforts of Proteas openers Quinton de Kock (37*) and Hashim Amla (51*), who looked fluent throughout their knocks in the washed out warm-up fixture, but he also highlighted areas in which his bowlers can improve moving forward.

"We were probably a little bit too short and we offered a bit of width at times as well," he said. "Especially in these conditions where the ball doesn’t do as much, I just think you need to be as accurate as you possibly can in terms of holding line and length, and then trying to create some problems there.

"If you stack up some dot balls, and stack up some pressured overs together, more often than not you get the wickets you are looking for."

Chris Gayle, 39, was present in the field during the match's 13 overs, to the surprise of some. He even stayed outside for a prolonged period of time in the rain to take pictures and sign autographs for adoring fans. While the 'Universe Boss' might be keen to stretch his legs for now, Holder implied that he will not over-exert the opening batsman in a bid to keep him fit.

"Chris is definitely up for it," he said. "We just try to keep everybody as fresh as possible. Chris is obviously one of those guys who carries a bit of age and is a senior guy within the squad, so while we want him to have a knock out in the middle, we still want to manage the time spent on his feet, as we do everyone else in the team."

While lauding the highly-anticipated comeback of explosive all-rounder Andre Russell, Holder was also enthusiastic in his assessment of the young players in his squad, claiming that he could give a "whole host of names" from his team that could be headline-makers in his summer's flagship tournament. "Russ (Russell) is one of those guys who is very impactful, he is a power-player and a match-winner," he said.

"We expect guys like Russ to hold a big fort in our World Cup campaign. It’s a matter of everyone coming together, we’ve got other guys like Nicolas Pooran, Evin Lewis, I could go through a whole host of names in this squad who are potential match-winners on any given day.

"It’s about bringing it together collectively and playing an attractive brand of cricket."

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