x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Champions Trophy: Dwayne Bravo must earn plaudits as West Indies captain

Group B The all-rounder's first assignment is to try to improve team's indifferent ODI form, says Osman Samiuddin.

The all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will captain West Indies at the last Champions Trophy having succeeded Darren Sammy. Jewel Samad / AFP
The all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will captain West Indies at the last Champions Trophy having succeeded Darren Sammy. Jewel Samad / AFP

West Indies are alive again. Apparently. They have won their last six Tests in a row. They are the world champions in one format of the sport, their triumph at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October a particularly popular one. They are being eagerly talked up as one of the Champions Trophy favourites, too.

Except that it is difficult to see them as such. Sure they have more than a few top-tier powerhouse players who are capable of changing the course of a game.

Chris Gayle we know about, but so overpowering are his T20 exploits that they inevitably colour his performances in other formats. His recent one-day international form, for example, is poor: in his last 13 ODIs he has one fifty, one hundred and an average of 25.16. His last 11 ODI scores are: 11, 16, 5, 35, 15, 4, 16, 2, 4, 4, 2.

There are plenty of others to choose from: Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine, Kemar Roach and even the wonderfully exuberant Tino Best - all men who can win matches with bat, ball, or in Pollard's case, in the field, riding the boundary.

But somehow, put together in a longer format than 20 overs, they are not quite as intimidating as they should be. Their record over the last year of nine wins and nine losses in 18 ODIs reads about right and is not actually even as balanced as it reads (three of the wins against Zimbabwe, a series loss to Bangladesh and whitewashed by Australia).

The other reason for caution is the replacement of Darren Sammy by Dwayne Bravo as the ODI captain. There is no reason yet to doubt Bravo's credentials for the job but the pressure of taking it on full-time and heading straight to a global tournament as essentially your first test is not to be underestimated.

Bravo has never quite matched the weight of performances with the obvious skills and enthusiasm he has been blessed with and in that sense is emblematic of a broader theme in the side. Maybe captaincy will be the making of him.

It will at least lift some of the burden from Sammy who, if he does make it to the starting XI now, might play with some more freedom than he has done in recent ODIs.

They will be a danger to any side, of that let there be no doubt, especially in a tournament as open and perched upon as thin an edge as this one as one mistake could effectively end a side's chances.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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