They were the first winners of the World Cup in 1975 and went on to make a successful defence of the trophy four years later. West Indies was the dominant limited overs side of the ’70s but they haven’t won the title since.
Can the current squad end 40 years of hurt or will the Windies have to wait until 2023 for another chance to add to their trophy cabinet?
In the outright betting markets for this year’s tournament, the West Indies is on offer at odds of +1400 to win in England in 2019. That figure makes them joint sixth favorites with Pakistan in places and that price has shortened since the start of the year.
A strong performance against tournament favorite England in March saw the Windies level a home ODI series at 2-2. They came close to winning outright and pushed the tourists all the way but is that a good indicator of success this summer?
West Indies is the current world T20 champion but there is a feeling among the betting community that they lack the patience for the longer formats. It has also been true in the past that some of their best players make themselves available solely for the short form of the game and the ODI squad is weaker as a result. This year, however, things may be different.
The strength of this West Indies side lies in their power hitting through the order. Starting with Chris Gayle, this is an explosive set of players who should be frequently sending team totals up to the 350 mark and beyond. Along with Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran can clear the ropes on a consistent basis. Gayle aside, there may be a lack of experience but there is enough talent in this batting order to get the Windies out of the groups.
Bowling Support Under the Spotlight
The question mark coming into this tournament relates to West Indies’ bowlers. Those successful sides of the past relied on a battery of four pace bowlers with the occasional few overs of spin coming in when conditions allowed.
The pace is here again in the shape of Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Shannon Gabriel and the skipper Jason Holder but is there enough control among that attack to keep the runs down?
Opposition batsmen won’t be concerned about the slow bowlers Ashley Nurse and Fabian Allen. Spin has never been a strong point for the West Indies so it’s all down to the slow men to back up their batters with effective displays on what are likely to be flat, unresponsive surfaces.
There was really no competition when it came to naming the key man in this squad. Christopher Henry Gayle, aka the Universe Boss, has produced some incredible numbers over a long career and, while this is his last World Cup, the big left-hander can leave the ODI stage with his greatest achievement to date.
Gayle passed 10,000 ODI runs during that recent series with England and he was at his brutal best throughout. He’ll be 40 later this year and while there are concerns about fitness levels during a long tournament, he somehow manages to keep going at the crease.
The West Indies finally looks to have good batting support this year but, as always, Chris Gayle’s is the wicket that opposition bowlers will prize the most.
We’ve mentioned Chris Gayle extensively in this preview and it’s certainly worth checking his price in the tournament leading run scorer market. Gayle can be picked up here at +2600 and there should be definite interest at that figure.
As for bowlers, there isn’t too much support and in the leading wicket taker market, the lowest West Indian price sits next to Sheldon Cottrell and he is way out at +6600. The sportsbooks may have made a fair assessment of the Windies’ bowling unit but, as for the overall team, we’re going to make a bold claim.
West Indies’ tournament win price is shortening and while some pundits feel this is all about one man, Chris Gayle is getting better support than in his previous tournaments. The young batters coming through have a greater appetite for 50 over cricket even though the likes of Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer will look to score at a T20 pace.
It won’t always come off but the format of the groups can allow the West Indies to scrape through to the semis and from there, it’s all about one-off showdowns. They may not go all the way but don’t be surprised if this squad surprises the odds setters and makes it through to the final of the 2019 World Cup.
Prediction: Beaten Finalists
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ICC World Cup News
Odds Shark Staff Thu, Feb 17, 9:14amICC World Cup