“I think our performance was a bit underwhelming” – Badree blames predictability, dot balls for Windies’ exit

West Indies team briefly moved up to third on the ICC T20 rankings during the T20 World Cup, but their eventual Super Eight exit from the competition has been deemed as “underwhelming” by two-time T20 World Cup winner Samuel Badree.

The Windies navigated a tough group which included New Zealand and Afghanistan, advancing to the Super Eight phase with a perfect record. In the process, the Windies stretched their winning streak in the format to eight matches.

With all the chips on the table in the Super Eight, the Windies became unstuck against both England and the South Africa, with a familiar Achilles heel rearing its ugly head – dot-ball percentage.

“Yes, we were unbeaten in the group stage, but you have to factor in we played against two associate teams in Uganda and Papua New Guinea,” Badree said on Monday.

“In the Super Eights where the tougher teams usually meet, we were only able to beat the US. From that standpoint, I think our performance was a bit underwhelming.”

In their first Super Eight match versus England at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, on a batting strip described as the best in the tournament, the Windies made 180 for four.

In a tourney which featured nine first-innings scores under 100, the West Indies score looked respectable, but a scathing attack from Phil Salt (87 not out from 47 balls) helped England knock off the target inside 18 overs.

In their innings, the West Indies were crippled by 51 dot balls – unable to score off almost nine of their allotted 20 overs.

In the nervy three-wicket, rain-affected loss to the Proteas in their final Super Eight game, the Windies were stifled by the wily spin and guile of the visitors with a staggering 57 dot balls – almost ten overs – in a modest total of 135 for eight at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua.

“The main hindrance in my mind was the batting and the dot-ball count. For too many matches, we had a dot-ball count of 50-plus,” Badree said.

“When every other team was playing 20 overs, the West Indies team was essentially playing a T10 match with the bat. We are only scoring off of ten or 11 overs in terms of deliveries.”

After a promising start to the tourney, the Windies’ dreams of winning an unprecedented third T20 World Cup were dashed on a rainy night in Antigua on June 23 when South Africa’s Marco Jansen drilled an Obed McCoy delivery for a flat six.

To be fair, the warning signs were there from before, as the West Indies batsmen generally struggled for fluency on tricky tracks at the Providence Stadium, Guyana and the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad.

Individual brilliance rescued the Windies out of tough moments in their group matches, but the formula couldn’t be replicated in the Super Eight.

In their opening game of the tournament against PNG in Guyana on June 2, West Indies faced 54 dot balls as they chased a 137-run target, with Roston Chase bailing out the hosts with an unbeaten knock of 42 from 27 balls.

The Windies then had 51 dot balls in their next game against newcomers Uganda, before bundling out the opposition for a record-low T20 World Cup score of 39.

At the BLCA on June 12, the West Indies fans witnessed something of a miracle when Sherfane Rutherford single-handedly rescued the innings from 76 for seven to steer the hosts to 149 for nine – a score which proved good enough for a 13-run win. West Indies faced 57 dot balls versus the Kiwis.

The team’s raw six-hitting power was on full display in a group C dead-rubber versus Afghanistan in St Lucia on June 17, as they posted a mammoth 218 for five – the highest score in the tourney.

Star batsman Nicholas Pooran also scored a T20 international best score of 98 against the Afghans – hitting eight of his tournament-high 17 sixes in the process. Pooran finished as the tournament’s sixth-highest scorer with 228 runs at an average of 38 and a strike rate of 146.15.

But outside of his free-flowing 98, the talented left-hander got a series of starts but didn’t shoulder the batting responsibility at crucial times for the co-hosts.

There were also concerns over the opening pair of Brandon King and Johnson Charles.The latter’s strike rate – 113.82 – was well below that of his career strike rate (131.25), and his deficiency against spin bowling has been well noted.

Badree said improving strike rotation and the ability to bat against spin bowling, must be implemented at the grassroots level.

“I think we need to address that at the territorial and age-group levels. We need to have our best coaches at those levels so when those guys get to the international level they already have the skillset to perform.”

He said the players involved in the Windies Academy and Windies ‘A’ team setups should also be targeted to try and foster a more all-round approach from regional batsmen.

“I’ve always maintained we have an all-or-none mentality – meaning to say, we go for a six or a four or we don’t get anything at all. We need to get to a level where if we can’t get a boundary off a particular ball, we’re still able to rotate the strike and get off strike to score off more deliveries…Otherwise, in the next ten years we’ll still be talking about dot-ball count and lack of strike rotation.”

The Windies crashed out at the group stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup and then failed to advance past the qualifying stage of the subsequent 2022 tourney.

Under Powell’s captaincy in 2023, the team experienced a turnaround with their series wins over England, South Africa and eventual 2024 T20 World Cup champions India.

Badree said those feats must be “recognised and commended,” and he shares Powell’s “optimism in terms of the upward trajectory of the team.”

He said planning for the 2026 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka and India must start forthwith, and he urged the Windies to identify players who will be suitable in subsequent conditions. He also said it’s imperative for the team to have a quality wrist-spinner who can take wickets consistently in the middle-overs.

“I still think this team has a lot of potential. And potentially, in a couple of years, they can once again vie for top honours. We have a good young core.”

He identified players such as Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Gudakesh Motie, Alzarri Joseph, Akeal Hosein, Pooran, Powell and Rutherford as players the team can be built around.

Going forward, he’d like to see more flexibility in the West Indies’ approach. He pointed to instances in the Super Eight matches versus England and South Africa when the Caribbean team’s predictability worked against them.

“Aiden Markram and Jos Buttler, in my mind, were more flexible and adaptable in their approach against the West Indies, where we went in with one plan and we weren’t minded to change even though the situation which confronted us warranted a change,” he said.

“We rely heavily on Akeal at the top, and if he doesn’t get wickets in the power play we struggle badly. We rely on Motie through the middle as well. If those two don’t take wickets, we’re struggling.”

In the end, Badree felt the chemistry of the bowling group may have been thrown off by the late injury and subsequent withdrawal of allrounder Jason Holder – particularly with the team’s execution of their death bowling. He placed the team’s downfall on the shoulders of the batting group, though.

“We didn’t bowl consistently as well as we should have, but I don’t fault the bowling whatsoever. I still think the bowling did an exceptional job. It was more from a batting standpoint we faltered.”

Though disappointed, Badree said the building blocks have been laid for a fruitful future in the format for West Indies, and he urged Cricket West Indies to capitalise on the “tremendous wave of passion and support for the West Indies team” during the World Cup.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout for West Indies games. I was heartened to see that love, affection and admiration for our players…particularly when David Rudder sang live. You just felt that energy – it was electric.

“And though the team didn’t perform as well as everyone hoped, I still think there’s tremendous love for the West Indies team…the West Indian public needs to be engaged further. We need to have some sort of campaign to continue that reignition and the passion for West Indies cricket.”

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