Aakash Sivasubramaniam
23 Nov 2022 | 10:47 AM

West Indies eye the hard ‘reset’ before ultimate white-ball test

With Nicholas Pooran stepping down as the captain, Windies have more questions to answer

West Indies are at an all-time low. You don’t need to be a soothsayer to see their future, right in front of your eyes. With Nicholas Pooran too stepping down as the captain, what next for them?

The Caribbean side have set up a competent panel for a comprehensive review of their T20 World Cup shambles, with the likes of Mickey Arthur and Brian Lara. While Lara has been part of the Sunrisers setup in the past, Arthur has made significant contributions to countries during his time as a coach.

Phil Simmons, who knows a thing or two about the culture too has stepped down, leading to so many unanswered questions for the Men in Maroon. With the ODI World Cup in 2023, and the T20 World Cup at home in 2024, they need to seek some answers fast and furious.

Who takes over the throne?

No Pooran, no Simmons, who next? Unlike other sides, the throne doesn’t have someone who can naturally be a succession to either. There is only one player from the current setup, who has some captaincy credentials – Rovman Powell – who in spectacular fashion, led the Jamaica Tallawahs to their third Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title.

Having said that, the jury is still out on Powell’s T20I numbers. While his overall numbers this year might look spectacular, the bulk of the strong figures came from the series against England. Until July 2022, the right-hander had three scores of over 60 but since then, has a high score of just 28.

Not to say that his contributions have been meagre but certainly it isn’t the fire that the cricketing board expected. That’s where the catch-22 situation arises for the Men in Maroon. Do they burden the already struggling Powell with captaincy, or do they wander in a lonely forest, looking for more leadership clues?

Over the last few years, Windies have dangled the coaching carrot multiple times but now, they will definitely need someone, who a) understands the culture, b) recognises the talent pool and c) integrate the newbies with the experienced ones.

Either way, it is something that is largely going to decide their immediate white-ball fate.

Can Windies afford to look past Hetmyer?

You remember the superstar era? The Narines, the Russells, the Pollards, the Bravos, the Gayles, the Simmons. You get the point, don’t you? That was largely West Indies cricket at one point. But look at 2022, they are trying to move past that superstar era, the aura era as some call it. Pooran was perhaps the last of the superstars from that generation, whose powers too have diminished over the last few years.

Hetmyer too. The Windies have really made the conscious decision of looking past the superstar era, which leads to the question, can they afford to look past it? The top four run-scorers in the recently concluded Super50 Cup are Powell, Pooran, Brandon King and Shai Hope. And then there is a 32-year-old Kjorn Ottley.

But in Alick Athanaze, a southpaw, Tevin Imlach, a stable batter and Kavem Hodge, they do have options. However, none barring Athanaze are on the same boat as Hetmyer. Even though Hetmyer only scored 176 runs, his strike-rate of 96 is perhaps too big a number to ignore. 

Against spin too, only Athanaze comes close to Hetmyer. Maybe he’s the package that Windies are running after, especially considering he’s just 24, and can roll his arm too. Having said all of that, Hetmyer definitely will still be on the radar, considering his experience in India.

Windies desperately need the best of Pooran

Nicholas Pooran has an aura attached to him. He can be that destructive at times that other batters can only imagine. But in recent times, it has been rare. In fact, so rare that even the Sunrisers Hyderabad were ready to let him go. Putting all these disappointments behind him, he put on a show in the recently concluded Super 50.

In fact, he was the second highest run-scorer in the competition, with 342 runs, with a thunderous strike-rate of 117.52. His talent is unparalleled in world cricket. Yet again, with the World Cup in the sub-continent, his form would be vital for the Men in Maroon, given his game against spin.

In the Super 50, the southpaw was never dismissed against spin, with a strike-rate of 106.8. Now all of that is crazy but given his dipping form in the white-ball formats internationally, the Windies would rather want Pooran the batter back in place of Pooran the skipper.

Can they strike gold in search of a spin attack?

Guess which West Indies spinner has the most wickets in this year across all T20s? Sunil Narine. Now that we know that ship has sailed, can the Windies really strike gold, ahead of the twin white-ball World Cups? Akeal Hosein is perhaps the most certain option across both the white-ball formats. But the need for a partner to assist him might be key to unlocking Windies potential with the ball.

Fabian Allen isn’t too far behind, and considering his exploits in India, both with the ball and the bat, he could definitely be in the mix ahead of the long white-ball season. 

Yannic Cariah, who was favoured over the likes of Hayden Walsh Jr, could too be strong in the mix, after his form across both the white-ball formats.

With West Indies having a set core in the pace department, sorting out their best spinners would be a task that could help them turn back the clock to becoming a formidable side in the white-ball formats.

As it stands now, there are plenty of questions that need answering, especially after their first-round exit at the T20 World Cup 2022. 

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