Sammy: WI must back up T20 'favourites' tag with performance
Captain Darren Sammy believes his star-studded West Indies have an excellent chance of winning the World Twenty20 Championship, starting later this month, but says the label of favourites means nothing unless they can back it up with strong performances.
Several pundits have already named West Indies among the pre-tournament favourites for the championship that runs from September 18 to October 7 in Sri Lanka.
"We have a few of the most experienced guys in T20 cricket in our squad and the squad looks very good," Sammy said here Saturday at the start of the West Indies camp at the High Performance Centre (HPC).
"Once we go out there and play to our full potential, the way we know we can play, we stand a very good chance."
West Indies will be bolstered by a battery of Indian Premier League (IPL) stars, including opener Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
Gayle was the leading batsman in the IPL last season for Royal Challengers Bangalore, hammering 733 runs at an average of 61 with one hundred and seven half-centuries.
Narine finished with 24 wickets in his first season for Chennai Super Kings, earning the Man-of-the-Series honour as he helped fire them to their maiden IPL title.
West Indies will also have the likes of pinch-hitter Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo as part of their armoury.
Sammy said despite the quality of the side, the Windies needed to remain focussed and play consistently.
"Once we go out there and play like we've been playing in the last series, we could win," Sammy pointed out.
"We're going to be focussed because people saying that we are favourites doesn't guarantee you a place in the final. You've got to go out there and play and we as a team we've got to be cognisant of that and make sure we stay focussed and take it game by game."
West Indies launched their week-long camp on Saturday, hoping to prime their preparation after a break following the successful New Zealand series.
The players will undergo rigorous training and are also expected to face the HPC side and the Combined Campuses and Colleges in two practice matches.
Sammy said the camp would be important in making the transition from the recent series.
"We had a good end to the Digicel Home Series and the guys got a well-deserved break," he noted.
"We're back here now and the guys are fine-tuning themselves, working hard and doing everything to make sure we're ready to go to Sri Lanka and try and win this World Cup."
West Indies have been installed in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland for the WT20.
West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (Captain), Dwayne Bravo (Vice-Captain), Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (Wicket-keeper), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
Reserves: Sulieman Benn, Tino Best, Devon Thomas
Team Management: Ottis Gibson (Head Coach), Richie Richardson (Team Manager), Toby Radford (Assistant Coach), C.J. Clark (Physiotherapist), Hector Martinez-Charles (Strength & Conditioning Co-ordinator), Richard Berridge (Video & Statistical Analyst), Philip Spooner (Media Manager), Virgil Browne (Massage Therapist)
Thursday, Sept 13: vs Sri Lanka - NCC, Colombo
Monday, Sept 17: vs Afghanistan - P Sara Oval, Colombo
First round matches
Saturday, Sept 22: vs Australia - R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Monday, Sept 24: vs Ireland - R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo