Hope springs eternal for Windies as new era begins
EAST LONDON (CMC):
WEST INDIES start another “new era” in One-day Internationals when Shai Hope leads them into battle for the first time against hosts South Africa today at Buffalo Park.
Hope was named the new ODI captain, and Rovman Powell was appointed the new Twenty20 International captain of the Caribbean side after Nicholas Pooran stepped down from the dual role of white-ball captain last October following an early exit from the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
The 30-year-old Barbados Pride wicketkeeper-batsman, easily the most prolific West Indies batsman in the format over the past three years, will have his hands full trying to infuse a winning culture into a side that has lost 21 of their last 30 ODIs.
Hope said that having different captains (Kraigg Brathwaite leads the Test side) for the three formats of the sport on the international stage was not a hindrance – rather it gives the visitors a chance to reboot and sort themselves out at the start of a crucial year that will include qualifying for the World Cup later in the year.
“I think it gives us the opportunity to focus on something more specific, something to build towards, because obviously, this is a transition phase for us,” Hope told reporters during a news conference on the eve of the match.
“It gives us an opportunity to see how things can work and for each captain to lean on each other, and hopefully, it can lead to good things, and especially for the ODI team, definitely to the World Cup.”
Neither West Indies nor South Africa is guaranteed a place in the format’s showpiece event because they languish at eighth and ninth, respectively, in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup (CWC) Super League, and both can be overtaken by Sri Lanka, who play a three-match series against New Zealand later this month.
It is likely that both sides will be part of the World Cup qualifying tournament in June and July this year in Zimbabwe in an attempt to secure the final two spots in the 10-team finals.
24 ODIS EACH
These three ODIs, however, do not form part of the Super League that started two years ago and in which the top 12 ODI teams and the Netherlands are playing a total of 24 ODIs each, earning them points towards automatic qualification with hosts India for the World Cup.
The Cricket World Cup takes place in October and November this year.
West Indies have completed their schedules of matches, winning only nine, and with this in mind, Hope said it was a good opportunity for his side to fine-tune their way of playing ODIs and to get back into the habit of winning.
“It’s a new journey, but we cannot look too far ahead,” he said.
“The main focus is this South Africa series, and the key is to start well and finish better. We need to improve in all areas.”
The match will be the first ODI in six years to be played at the ground, where the pitch tends to be slow and the bounce low, and totals in excess of 300 have eluded teams in the last five List A matches, which have delivered two centuries and two hauls of four or more wickets.
SOUTH AFRICA (from): Temba Bavuma (captain), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Tony de Zorzi, Bjorn Fortuin, Sisanda Magala, Lungi Ngidi, Ryan Rickelton, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Lizaad Williams, Rassie van der Dussen.
WEST INDIES (from): Shai Hope (captain), Rovman Powell (vice captain), Shamarh Brooks, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith.