West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes Bangladesh will start as favourites in the forthcoming series but wants his young team to grab the opportunity and make a statement. The visitors have arrived with a relatively inexperienced squad with Test skipper Jason Holder, ODI captain Kieron Pollard along with seasoned campaigners like Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran opting out of the tour due to Coronavirus fears.
“Bangladesh is clearly favorites because they play well at home. We can’t argue with that,” Simmons said. “We left the Caribbean with the aim to win the ODI series. You might say that we don’t have our full team, but at the same time we have a team here which is hungry, wants to do well, and eager to play, fight and scrap in these conditions.
“Sometimes experience plays a part but sometimes enthusiasm and hunger trumps experience. We do have a few experienced players,” said Simmons.
West Indies’ road to the 2023 World Cup begins here in this series that is part of the ICC ODI League. Simmons is looking at it as an opportunity for the players to stake a claim for an ODI berth and consequently help the team pick up one of the direct qualification places. West Indies had to take the more scenic route via the World Cup Qualifiers and ultimately under-performed at the marquee event in England in 2019.
“It is the start. It is the tournament to qualify for the World Cup, so it’s a start,” he emphasised. “My rule and message to all the players here is that you are not here to fill in. You are here to give yourself a chance. You have a chance now to seal your place in the team. If you do well here, it augers well for you moving forward. You come here and do well in the three ODIs and two Tests, you are putting yourself in a place from where nobody can move you. Only you have the opportunity.
“When we went to England, we carried 25 players. We have seen couple of young players including the two that made their debut in New Zealand, come through from that. We have seen a few of the other young players that we know on this tour that we didn’t know before. This opens up the pool. Some of the places are in the players’ hands. If they do well here, they can put themselves in line to play most of these series coming up.
The visitors arrived in Dhaka on January 10 and WICB officials have since confirmed that all the members of their contingent have tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival into Bangladesh. They’ll undergo a second test on January 13 post which they can take to the training ground.