Underdogs Windies look to ignite passion
They may not be the hottest property at the World Cup, but the West Indies on Thursday said they were desperate to win this time and restore pride in the Caribbean.
On home turf four years ago, the former champions made it to the Super Eights round before losing five out of six matches, prompting the then skipper Brian Lara to announce his international retirement.
“We want to get the record straight this time,” attacking opener Chris Gayle said ahead of their first warm-up match against Kenya on Saturday.
“There are a lot of expectations from people back home. We want to go all out for them. This is my third World Cup. I’m treating it like my final Cup.
“The West Indies have a legacy of winning and I want to give my best to win matches for us,” said Gayle who is closing in on 8,000 ODI runs.
The West Indies won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 but have since struggled to keep pace with the best in the game.
Since 2007, they have been dogged by in-fighting, selection rows and wrangling between players and the board.
Gayle, 31, was stripped of his captaincy last year after he refused a central contract and the inexperienced Darren Sammy was promoted to lead.
They have also slipped to number nine in one-day rankings behind Bangladesh and have not beaten a Test side in an ODI since June, 2009.
“We go in as the underdogs,” Gayle said. “But we want to be the team that upsets biggies and the one that gets through to the quarter-finals.”
Sammy also sought to put on a brave face despite a shaky build-up to the showpiece tournament that saw them lose 2-0 to Sri Lanka in a short one-day series recently.
“Yes, we have had some difficult times these past few months, but its behind us. The seniors and the juniors in the team are united to win games in this tournament,” the captain said.
West Indies open their World Cup campaign with a game against South Africa on February 24 in New Delhi, followed by matches against Netherlands, Bangladesh, Ireland, England and India.
Four teams from the group will qualify for the quarter-finals.
Sammy was disappointed with the heavy rains in Sri Lanka which have robbed the team of much-needed match practice.
“We are a bit fresher than other teams I suppose, having spent more time indoors than on the field,” he said.
“This is my first World Cup and like many other young people in my team I am excited to have the chance to restore our cricket legacy,” he said.
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