The West Indies are the only side to have ever won more than one T20 World Cup after securing the title first in 2012 and then again in 2016.
Given their lack of success in the other two formats – ODIs and Tests – you have to wonder: why have the Windies become such a dominant force in this format? What do they have that the others don’t? Below, you will find my opinion on why the West Indies has won so many T20 World Cup titles.
They play a hell of a lot of T20 cricket
Here are the three players in the world with the most T20 matches played over the course of their careers: Kieron Pollard (541 matches), Dwayne Bravo (478) and Chris Gayle (424).
Notice anything in common? They are of course not just all West Indies players but all World Cup winners, as well. Also in the Top 10 are Sunil Narine (355) and Andre Russell (355) meaning that 5 of the Top 10 are West Indies players.
The reason for this is that many Windies players very early on chose T20 cricket over international cricket. Players like Gayle pretty much quit their Test careers while others like Pollard never played it at all.
It’s not good for the Windies’ other formats but it does mean that in T20s, they have the most experienced players around. And that can only be a good thing.
IPL experience invaluable
The games the likes of Bravo and Gayle have played have been in anything from the CPL to PSL to the T20 Blast in England.
But crucially, their main stars have played lots and lots of IPL cricket. Of the eleven players who featured in the 2016 final against England, seven had played in the IPL at some stage.
The IPL, as we know, is the richest and most competitive T20 tournament in the world and season after season of playing in high-pressure matches in packed stadiums where every ball counts can only improve the players’ skills and temperaments.
It’s also true that you learn a lot from playing alongside the world’s best, like Kagiso Rabada, Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers.
Whereas most other international teams preferred a slightly more cautious approach of accumulating runs, scoring a few boundaries along the way and then going hell-for-leather in the last few overs, the Windies saw things differently.
They worked out early on that a batsman getting 20 runs off 10 balls trumps one who gets 40 off 30. And the best way to score your runs very quickly is to…hit sixes.
So the likes of Gayle, Pollard and Andre Russell decided that trying to hit lots of sixes is a good example of the reward justifying the risk. It won’t always come off but the thinking is very much right.
The Windball factor
Windball is an 8-over-a-side form of cricket played in the West Indies and in particular in Trinidad, where Bravo, Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Kyle Hope and Nicholas Pooran all come from.
It’s played on a concrete surface with a plastic ball and the key to the game is to hit boundaries, with it being easier to do so when hitting straight.
The key here being: hitting straight. All the players mentioned above (and a few more) grew up playing windball and they didn’t stop playing it just because they became millionaires who won everything the game had to offer. When back home, they regularly show up for midweek games in front of a few hundred people like they were regular local cricketers.
The ball may be different but all those years of hitting straight in windball have paid dividends.
You’re lucky if you have one world-class all-rounder in your side to add that all-important balance. So England have Ben Stokes, New Zealand have Kyle Jamieson and (when fit to bowl) India have Hardik Pandya.
So consider how lucky the Windies have been to be able to count on the following top-class all-rounders over the years: Pollard, Bravo, Narine, Daren Sammy and Andre Russell. Russell, by the way, is arguably the best T20 all-rounder ever.
Very often they’ve played at least three of those in the same side. What that means is that the captain almost always has at least seven bowling options in total and that the team bats down to at least number nine.
So plenty of choice when it comes to bowlers and then there batsmen down the order who can add some quick runs batting first or get over the line in a chase. A real recipe for success.
Sammy and Samuels
There were two common factors in the West Indies’ two World Cup wins.
The first was that they were captained by Daren Sammy on both occasions, the second that Marlon Samuels was man-of-the-match in the final on both occasions.
Sammy was a curious case. He went from being a really good all-rounder who could hit sixes at will, to playing mostly just as a batsman, to playing almost solely as a captain. After all, towards the end of his international career he generally batted at eight and hardly ever bowled.
But don’t dismiss his importance as captain. He was good from a tactical point of view but he was an even better man manager and motivator.
The Windies are a hard team to lead with some difficult personalities. But he had them all pulling in the same direction.
Speaking of difficult characters in cricket, look no further than Samuels. But the Jamaican scored 78 off 56 in the 2012 final against Sri Lanka and then 85 off 66 in the 2016 final against England. As we said already, he was man-of-the-match in both games.
This time round, they’ll have to do it without both of them as they’ve since retired.
They can do it all over again in 2021
Read our full West Indies team guide where you’ll see what we like about them and why we think they have the tools to do it all over again, even without Sammy and Samuels.
They’re currently a best price of 10.0 with Betway and now may be time to back them because that price may quickly disappear.
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