Windies stand-in captain Brandon King: We'll handle World Cup when it comes

In this December 14, 2023, West Indies’ Brandon King plays a shot against England during the second T20 at the National Cricket Stadium in Saint George’s, Grenada.  - AP PHOTO
In this December 14, 2023, West Indies’ Brandon King plays a shot against England during the second T20 at the National Cricket Stadium in Saint George’s, Grenada. - AP PHOTO

With West Indies’ opening match of the June 1-29 International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s Twenty/20 World Cup versus Papua New Guinea (PNG) just ten days away, opening batsman Brandon King says the regional team is fully focused on the May 23-26 T20 series against South Africa.

Coach Daren Sammy’s West Indies team will play South Africa in a three-match T20 series at Sabina Park in Jamaica, with King appointed as the stand-in captain in the absence of regular skipper Rovman Powell and vice-captain Alzarri Joseph. Both Powell and Joseph are unavailable due to their franchises’ involvement in the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs, with allrounder Roston Chase being chosen as King’s deputy for the series.

Speaking at Sabina Park on May 22, King gave insight into his and the team’s mindset.

“I don’t think it’s difficult to focus on South Africa. Sports is a thing you have to take day-by-day, especially when you have so many games, you can’t think too far ahead,” King said.

“This is a series that’s going to be good preparation for us. We’ll handle the World Cup’s first game when we get to it.”

The Windies are in Group C for the World Cup alongside PNG, Afghanistan, New Zealand and newcomers Uganda. West Indies’ first two games of the World Cup will be at Providence Stadium, Guyana versus PNG and Uganda on June 2 and 8 respectively. The Windies will then close off the group phase against the fifth-ranked New Zealand and the tenth-ranked Afghanistan team who confirmed former West Indies captain and two-time T20 World Cup winner Dwayne Bravo as their bowling consultant on Tuesday.

For now, the goal is to take down the “Proteas,” whom the Windies defeated by a 2-1 margin in a tense T20 series last March. King said the fourth-ranked South Africa are not to be taken lightly.

“They’re a very good team. They also play a very aggressive, positive brand of cricket. We’re looking to exploit our home advantage in this series,” the stylish Jamaican batsman said.

“Last time we were in their conditions and we won, so we should be even more positive playing at home.”

Seven players from West Indies’ World Cup squad are unavailable for the South Africa series, including the rested pair of Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran. On Friday, Powell and Shimron Hetmyer’s Rajasthan Royals will contest the second IPL eliminator, while allrounder Andre Russell is likely to feature in the tournament’s final with Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.

King says the team’s momentum or chemistry will not be affected by their absence.

“We have specific roles for each player and we have communicated that to them, through the coach and myself. We know what we’d like to do in the World Cup.

“The guys who are missing are also very experienced. They will fit in nicely when they come.”

The Proteas will also be without seven players from their World Cup squad, with Rassie van der Dussen filling in as skipper.

Uncapped Guyanese pacer Shamar Joseph, who played the lone game for Lucknow Super Giants last month in his maiden IPL campaign, has returned for the series.

King said there is great anticipation surrounding the 24-year-old quick and he’s anxious to see how he plays in the series.

“I guess we’ll find out if he will debut tomorrow (Thursday),” said King, when asked about Shamar’s potential Windies T20 debut.

“We’re also very excited to see what he has. You’ll definitely see him in this series at some point.”

In January, Shamar won fans around the world when he bowled the West Indies to a Test win against Australia in a Man of the Series showing. This week, the Sabina Park crowd could get their own taste of Shamar’s pace before the regional team’s World Cup quest begins.


"Windies stand-in captain Brandon King: We’ll handle World Cup when it comes"

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