NORTH SOUND, Antigua (CMC):
Left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin believes the Windward Islands can be very competitive in the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament starting today.
"We play for each other. We play together. We have always played that way and we will continue to play that way," Mathurin said as the Windwards prepared for the opening Group A match against defending champions Trinidad & Tobago at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at 4 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean time).
"This is the philosophy which the team management has inculcated in the squad and everyone has bought into it. When people look at us they would not say that we are a team of 'big stars' but we know of strengths and we play to our strengths. We have some good players in our team and I believe we can match any team in this tournament."
The 28-year-old Mathurin is also a pinch-hitter and one of the senior members of the Windwards team, who reached the semi-finals last year.
Mathurin came to prominence last September when he bowled the West Indies to victory over England in the second match of the two-game T20 International Series at the Oval in London. He took three wickets for nine runs off four overs to win the Man-of-the-Match award in a memorable debut.
"Last year we made it to the semi-finals but we did not go on. This time around we will look to go even further and win the whole tournament. The Windwards have never won a T20 tournament in the Caribbean, but this side believes we can 'go where no Windwards team has gone before'," he said.
The Darren Sammy-led Windwards squad arrived in Antigua last week and have had several net sessions and warm-up matches in an effort to get used to the conditions as well as to put plans in place for what promises to be two weeks of action and entertainment.
The spin-bowling attack is led by Mathurin and off-spinner Shane Shillingford. West Indies captain Sammy, with his accurate seam bowling, is in the Top 10 in the ICC World T20 rankings for bowlers, while fast bowler Nelon Pascal and tall left-armer Delorn Johnson, can both be deadly with the new ball.
The batting is led by Devon Smith, the left-handed stroke-maker, and Andre Fletcher, who is looking to make his mark. They also have Sammy, who is a dangerous power-hitter, along with top-order batsmen Miles Bascombe and Johnson Charles.
Apart from the Windwards and Trinidad & Tobago, the other teams in Group A are the 2010 champions Guyana, Leeward Islands and Canada.
Group B comprises Barbados, Jamaica, Combined Campuses & Colleges, Netherlands and Sussex.