THE West Indies have shown off their Twenty20 skills by losing to Zimbabwe, but they expect success as hosts of the ICC World Twenty20 in May -- at the discipline of partying.
Preparations are well advanced for the tournament in Guyana, St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts from on April 30-May 16, the director Robert Bryan is confident the Caribbean is ready to give visitors and teams a good experience.
Bryan, a Jamaican, felt that the excitement was building up in the West Indies. "We’re definitely ready to ‘Bring It’," he said. "We’re expecting full houses so we get maximum capacity in the various venues across the West Indies. I think the ICC World Twenty20 will capture the fun, excitement and unique flavour of the Caribbean. I think we do believe there is no better place to throw a party than the West Indies. We’re looking forward to a really competitive series of matches."
Not that the West Indies team can start as favourites, even with the presence of Chris Gayle, probably the world's best batsman in this format. Without their captain they failed to chase down Zimbabwe's total of 105 all out in Trinidad on Feb 28, finishing on 79 for seven like prep school cricketers. Ottis Gibson, their embarrassed new coach, assured the media his team had not been complacent.
Earlier in the month in Australia the West Indies lost both 20-over games, even with Gayle at the front. The Hobart margin was 38 runs, but at Sydney the Australians won by eight wickets when they pssed 138 in only 11.4 overs. David Warner, the left-hander of Durham, Delhi Daredevils and new South Wales, smashed seven sixes in his 67 off 29 balls.
So the heat remained on Gibson, another Durham man, for the visit of Zimbabwe as supposed no-hopers, though the presence of Dave Houghton among the visiting management should always make the write-off men wary. Eight Zimbabwe batsmen failed to score, with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn returning 4-2-6-4 on a slow pitch, but the West Indies fared worse, managing only three fours and a six in their 20 overs. Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer took 3-11 in four overs.
Perhaps the West Indians should stick to partying, which they do so well by reputation. For spectators, though, it might be worth a trip as ticket prices are low and the hotels should have learnt from the failure of their rip-off strategy in the 2007 World Cup.