World Cup Preview: Can West Indies’ big names deliver a long-elusive title?

In 11 previous editions of the ODI World Cup spanning 44 years, only three nations have emerged victorious: Australia, England and New Zealand. The T20 World Cup has also had only three different winners in seven editions: England, Australia and West Indies.

So when West Indies take on New Zealand in their opening match at the tournament on March 4, they will be bidding to join Australia and England as the only teams to have won the World Cup in two different formats.

How they made it

West Indies had to enter the ICC World Cup Qualifier after finishing seventh in the ICC Women’s Championship. While the Qualifier was called off, West Indies still booked their spot by virtue of being seventh in the world rankings.

What have they done in the past?

They first appeared at the tournament in 1993 and have appeared in every World Cup since then barring the 2000 edition. They finished sixth in the last edition in 2017 after winning just two of their seven matches.

West Indies squad

Best World Cup finish

Their best display came in 2013, when an inspired run saw them reach all the way till the final, where they lost to Australia comprehensively.

That performance seemed to be the start of something special as they went on to win the 2016 T20 World Cup, beating Australia in the final to avenge the previous loss.

ALSO READ: SWOT analysis: West Indies need to look beyond the big guns to go all the way

While they remain a dangerous team, they have struggled for consistency in the ODI format as most of their batters have lacked the ability to build an innings and score quickly without taking too many risks.

Squad

Stafanie Taylor (Captain), Anisa Mohammed (Vice Captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Cherry-Ann Fraser, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman and Rashada Williams.

Likely playing XI

Deandra Dottin 2. Rashada Williams 3. Kycia Knight 4. Stafanie Taylor 5. Hayley Matthews 6. Shemaine Campbelle 7. Chedean Nation 8. Shamilia Connell 9. Afy Fletcher 10. Anisa Mohammed 11. Shakera Selman

Key players

Hayley Matthews

Since the 2017 World Cup, Matthews is one of only four all-rounders to achieve the double of 700 runs and 30 wickets in the last World Cup cycle. The others are Amelia Kerr, Ellyse Perry and Deepti Sharma. Having moved in to the middle order from the opening slot, Matthews is definitely among the best all-rounders in the world and has the ability to win the team the match with either bat or ball.

Stafanie Taylor

Among players who have scored a minimum of 100 runs in the last World Cup cycle, nobody averages better than Stafanie Taylor’s 56.18. She has suffered a couple of unfortunate injuries of late and has cut down her bowling workload but Taylor, the batter, remains among the world’s best. She’ll have to carry the bulk of the burden for the team in that department again like she has for most of her career.

X factor

West Indies’ decision to promote Deandra Dottin to the top of the order could well be a gamechanger for them at the World Cup. While Dottin’s numbers lower down the order are not bad at all, as an opener, she’s even more dangerous as she has the ability to hit over the top merrily and take advantage of the powerplay and fielding restrictions. She also enjoys facing pace and that ability will be crucial in conditions that might assist the faster bowlers more at the beginning of the innings.

Dottin enters the tournament in sensational form, having scored two centuries and one 50 in her last 10 innings. As an opener, Dottin averages 38.08 at a strike rate of 80.58 in 24 innings. In all other positions, she averages 28.82 at a strike rate of 78.41 from 111 innings. Courtney Walsh has already made an impact on this West Indian team since his appointment as head coach but the decision to push Dottin up and Matthews to the middle order might be the one that makes the most difference.

Prediction
In Anisa Mohammed, Taylor, Matthews and Dottin, West Indies have some of the game’s most impactful players and biggest matchwinners. While they have the capability to beat anyone on their day, their inconsistency might see them exit in the group stage.