West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is hoping that his side can make playing at home work in their favour when they face visiting England in the first match of their three-match One-day International series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Friday.
The West Indies are enduring a lean period in international cricket, having drawn their T20 series with ICC Associate side Ireland 1-1 which had been preceded by a run of four consecutive losses in the format.
England likewise are coming off a nightmare tour of Australia where they were whitewashed in the Ashes Test series, lost the ODI series 4-1 and the T20 series 3-0.
“Both sides haven’t set the world on fire recently in this format, so I think they’ll be thinking the same thing about us; they’ll be thinking it’s a good time to play us too,” Gibson told reporters, yesterday. “We’re at home so hopefully home advantage will count for something...Hopefully we can come out and entertain our fans and give them something to smile about because we haven’t given them anything to smile about for a long time in this format.”
West Indies, who will also play a three-match T20 series against England in Barbados, at least will enter Friday’s match with a win behind them in the format, Sunday’s four-wicket win over the Irish. And while next month the Windies will be defending their World T20 title, Gibson said his side would be focusing on improving their form in ODIs in this first series.
“We’ll play them like One-day Internationals because that’s what they are. There are some other guys who will come into our T20 side that aren’t in this side. We haven’t played great one-day cricket over the last six to 12 months so we need to try and treat these games as they are and try and win ‘em.”
The coach added that while his players were “building towards” the World T20 defence, “this series is obviously very important for us.”
Asked, however, whether he felt his side would be able to make a strong defence of their title next month, Gibson remained confident.
“For sure. Chris (Gayle) is missing from our group at the moment, he’s got a little hip injury so we’ve given him some more time to recover. We’re missing (Kieron) Pollard. Other than that, most of the guys that won the T20 two years ago are still in the squad, so we’ve got that experience to call on...We’ve got some exciting youngsters as well that we feel can fill the void left by Pollard, so we believe we’ve got a great opportunity to retain the title for sure.”