West Indies

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:46 BST

We take a look at West Indies' squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

Gayle: Best in the business

Group B Fixtures
September 22: Australia at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, 1500 BST
September 24: Ireland at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo 1500 BST

Overview: Despite failing to reach the semi-finals at any previous edition of the World Twenty20, the West Indies are tipped by many to prevail in Sri Lanka.

So why the top billing this time around? Well, their squad really does offer huge experience, variety and ideal balance, and the form of Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine alone promises so much.

Coach Ottis Gibson, rightly wanting a contract extension, really has brought this team together in the past three years. While they continue to progress in the Test-match arena, limited-overs cricket - particularly Twenty20 competition - remains their best hope of significant success.

A major ICC title would boost all the hard work of the 24 months, perhaps exponentially, and put to bed all the hurt and stress brought by the former Gayle fallout and ongoing frequent tussles between the WICB and WIPA.

Strengths: Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree look as good a spin combination as any in the tournament. And another obvious strength, but well worth reiterating: T20I cricket knows know greater hitter than Gayle, with his sensational ease in striking sixes sure to fetch even greater heights over some of the smaller Colombo and Pallekele boundaries. Gayle, Narine, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell all boast recent, successful experience on the Indian Premier League circuit in conditions that shouldn't be dissimilar to those in Sri Lanka.

Weaknesses: When they're up they're up, but when the Windies are down they are down - they are still an occasionally fragile side prone to seemingly inexplicable and rapid self-destruction. That appears the likeliest source for any failure in this tournament because on paper they look a truly formidable outfit.

Six-hitter: Chris Gayle. Even in a side boasting the explosive ball-striking of Kieron Pollard, there is still only one contender for this category. Quite simply the finest and cleanest hitter of a cricket ball in his generation, Gayle has spent his career destroying bowling figures with a seemingly casual and effortless swing of his enormous bat. Gayle's success is built on simple principles; there is little innovation or unorthodoxy to his batting, he simply keeps his head still and always hits from a solid base. The Jamaican's record of 43 sixes in just 23 T20I matches is a ratio no-one in the world comes close to matching, while his overall T20 record - 290 in 110 matches - is Bradmanesque in its dominance. The second-highest six-hitter in all T20 cricket is Pollard, but his 206 maximums have taken 155 games.

Strike bowler: Sunil Narine. Less than a year after making his international debut, Narine is a genuine global star after bamboozling batsmen with his mystery off-spin bowling. His action makes picking the one that goes the other way almost impossible and his impressive control of line and length means batsmen rarely get freebies. His wickets generally come more as a result of the suffocating pressure he puts on batsmen than any prodigious turn or bounce, but in limited-overs cricket that's as good a weapon as any. Having starred in this year's IPL, expect Narine to be one of the big hits of the World Twenty20.

One to watch: Kieron Pollard. He would be the 'six-hitter' in any other team. Although nowhere near as consistent as Gayle, he hits the ball just as far and is the only other player with 200-plus sixes in T20 cricket. His average of just 20 does scant justice to his talent, but there are signs that in the last 12 months he has learned to harness his awesome power more effectively and build an innings rather than just teeing off at everything. If his talent continues to mature, he will take some stopping.

Squad: Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith