West Indies seek to defend home turf vs England

Sherfane Rutherford (L), Shimron Hetmyer (C) and Alzarri Joseph (R) of West Indies take part in a training session one day ahead of the 1st ODI against England at Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, on Saturday. -
Sherfane Rutherford (L), Shimron Hetmyer (C) and Alzarri Joseph (R) of West Indies take part in a training session one day ahead of the 1st ODI against England at Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, on Saturday. -

West Indies 50-over captain Shai Hope is getting a “positive buzz” ahead of Sunday’s first of three One-Day Internationals against England at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, from 1pm.

Hope, who also serves as maroon wicketkeeper, believes West Indies play their “best cricket” against the visitors, despite the English having won 52 of their previous ODIs against the hosts.

With 44 losses and six no results, West Indies still have the edge on home soil, with 23 wins against 17 defeats.

“We’re trying to defend home turf, that’s what we have to do here. Any time we play England we know it’s a very big series. It has a lot of history. We have to make sure we’re doing all the prep, and (have to) make sure it comes to good use tomorrow (Sunday).

“Whenever we have an England series, whether home or away, we just have a different mindset. I’m not sure if it’s something personal or what but we play our best cricket against England,” he told Cricket West Indies (CWI) media on Saturday.

Hope said the squad was involved in an intense training camp over the past two weeks. The energy in the team is highly optimistic and the skipper feels inspired to face the 2019 Cricket World Cup winners.

“It’s a very positive vibes in the camp. I feel a different buzz, a very positive buzz around. Once we put in the hard work off the field, things will happen on (the field). We have to let go of the past and create our own history.

“We know that England is a very strong side and we got all the right and necessary players to do the job for us. We’re looking forward to the series.”

Leeward Islands’ fast bowler Alzarri Joseph steps into his new role as vice-captain for this series and will deputise a team without many stars in the squad.

The notable absence of players such as Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell and Jayden Seales may be missed but Hope is confident in his bunch.

TT opener Kjorn Ottley, 33, makes his return to the setup after three years and is expected to open alongside Brandon King. Guyanese Shimron Hetmyer is back in the team alongside Oshane Thomas, leg spinner Gudakesh Motie, batsmen Keacy Carry, Alick Athanaze, Sherfane Rutherford and in-form all-rounder Yannic Cariah.

Bajan Matthew Forde, 21, will also make his ODI debut.

On his team, Hope said they’re growing together as a unit.

“The way how we are preparing now, everyone is coming a lot closer together. We’re doing things like a family, more so than anything. It’s not just about cricket. “We’re moving together as one. It’s nice to see the guys are taking to the plan that we have and hopefully, we can get these wins that we’re really looking for and give the West Indies fans to cheer about.”

Additionally, this series provides Hope with an opportunity to surpass the 5,000-run ODI marker. He’s currently tallied 4940 from 118 matches, comprising 15 centuries and a high score of 170.

While Hope downplayed the historic feat in the interview, he said he prefers to win on the day, than to tally individual records.

“Any time I do things for West Indies I think that makes me more proud of anything, not ticking stats boxes. I’m just trying to win games. You have to look back and give thanks for these things.”

Despite him not personally chasing the 5,000 marker, Hope was still asked what would he require to achieve the feat.

He responded, “It’s all mindset, to go out and do what the team requires, and that drives me to get the job done. So if I need to score 100 off 25 balls, I’m going to do that. If I need to bat ten hours for the team, that drives me, so I think just having that mindset to go in and do well with the team requires gives me that boost.”

He said that this series is about trying to focus on the ODI side, trying to rebuild the team, find their true brand and focus on the things they’ve been speaking about through all the meetings over the last few months.

“And then see it coming to fruition. I think we’re working really hard and it’s about getting some performances in to win tomorrow.”

On Joseph’s appointment as vice-captain, Hope said he’s always been a leader on and off the field and has been doing well domestically.

Hope praised Joseph’s maturity and was happy to share the helm with his teammate.

“The guys are growing as he (Joseph) is because they want everyone to be thinking as a leader. Because when you’re out there facing a particular bowler, in some situations, you have to know what the team requires at this present moment.

“He’s been doing that over the years and I’m glad to see he’s in this role now and I’m sure he’s going to support me for many games.”


"West Indies seek to defend home turf vs England"

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