West Indies were one of the favourites walking into the T20 World Cup, on the back of the form that they have exhibited in the shortest format across the last two years. However, their performance in this edition of the competition has been underwhelming, with two losses in as many games.
In both of the losses, their batting has shown familiar signs of weakness, either playing too aggressive or too slowly. Following losses at the hands of England and South Africa, West Indies are on the verge of elimination from the tournament in the group stage.
Former England cricketer Graeme Swann in an exclusive chat with Cricket.com, suggested that this edition is the downfall of West Indies’ T20 era. While he cites that the Windies might win a few games, he doesn’t believe that they could reach the final stretch of the competition on current form.
“I think it is the downfall of West Indies’ T20 era. Age and experience are one thing but it can get highlighted if you are not winning. I’m not saying that this West Indies team is past it and they are like Pakistan, they could bounce back anytime,” Swann told Cricket.com in an exclusive chat.
“But they have had two really really weak performances. If you look at their team, the team is wriggled with top-class batsmen from the IPL but they are just not performing. Maybe it is the end of their era. Not sure if it is their T20 World Cup to be honest,” he added.
On the other hand, the former England spinner hailed Pakistan and England as the two favourites to lift the title this year. Swann revealed that he was earlier scared for Pakistan against New Zealand but their performance against the BlackCaps has reassured him that they would go the distance.
“England and Pakistan are favourites. That New Zealand game, I was more nervous about Pakistan because after that India victory, I thought we would see the old Pakistan, who would falter. I honestly thought that they wouldn’t beat New Zealand but I was completely wrong. I think Matt Hayden has instilled hardness in this team,” Swann said of Pakistan and England.
Swann on Afghanistan's rise in T20 cricket
On Afghanistan’s rise, the off-spinner credited the Asian side and opined that they are more likely to upset the bigger nations than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“Afghanistan’s win over Scotland was amazing. Scotland aren’t quite England’s rivals even though they are closest, although they see England as their rivals. I think a lot of English fans will root for Scotland. It was a bit hard to see them getting destroyed against Afghanistan. It wasn’t their day whatsoever. You forget how strong Afghanistan are. They are more likely to upset teams these days than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”
Swann also heaped praises on Afghanistan’s spin twin – Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan – stating that the duo are very accurate, which makes it tough for the batters to get a hold off. He also hailed them as the new age spinners, adding that they fizz the ball while being deadly accurate at the stumps.
“Mujeeb is hard to pick, he is not a massive spinner of the ball. As a batsman, if you don’t pick him, it would be tough to see which variation is on your way. Some batters would be able to. We have seen that with Rashid Khan, he is very very accurate and that makes him tough. Mujeeb does the same thing and if you don’t pick him, it becomes horrible for you.
“If you are being aggressive and run down the pitch, you ran straight past the ball. I think on pitches that are going to turn, they are going to be really hard to play against. On these small pitches, you have to be quick and leave no room for the batters.
“These spinners said that we are not going to throw it up but fizz it. They rely on not giving batters any room and time to settle. But if you are quick and bowling wide, then it is easier for the batsmen to hit you but these spinners are deadly accurate, on the stumps.”