Powell backs WI power-hitting depth to outgun New Zealand
By Akeem Greene
The big power-hitters Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo are not part of the West Indies squad for the tour to New Zealand for varying reasons.
However, promising all-rounder Rovman Powell still believes there is great depth and ability in the current group to muscle the ball over the ropes and present a challenge to the hosts. He also sees it as a perfect opportunity for fresh faces to do the job and make a name for themselves.
“If you should look at the depth of the team I think it is a very good and very strong team as it regards power-hitting [even] with those guys being missing,” Powell stated via a Virtual presser on Thursday.
“But with those guys missing, it provides an opportunity for us younger players just before the World Cup, before the start of cricket in 2021, to put our best foot forward and put good performances in place.”
Head Coach Phil Simmons had stated this tour provides such a platform for the early audition of World T20 prospects.
West Indies have played four T20I series in New Zealand, losing three and drawing the other 1-1 on the tour in 2008. Overall, they have won only one of eight T20 games in New Zealand.
On the last tour in 2017/18, they lost the three-match series 2-0, with the final match abandoned.
If there is a glimmer of hope for West Indies this time, New Zealand have lost eight of their last 10 T20I played at home – England won 3-2 then Indian swept the five-match series.
“This squad can turn it around; New Zealand has not been an easy place not just for us but other overseas teams to tour, but if you look at the depth and strength of the [West Indies] squad, it is a pretty good one,” the Jamaican confidently stated.
“The captain and the coach have stressed to us playing the brand of cricket that we want leading up to the World Cup and all the guys have bought in to that brand of cricket and I think it will bear fruit.”
Unlike West Indies, who have a tour under their belt since the pandemic, albeit solely Test matches, this will be New Zealand’s first, and Powell said it will be hard to judge the current form of the Kiwis.
For starters, New Zealand are sixth on the ICC T20I rankings as compared to the defending World T20 Champions at ninth, below Bangladesh and just one rating point ahead of Afghanistan.
Powell cautioned that the Black Caps have their own destructive batsmen and bowlers who can be ominous on any given day, but hopes West Indies are up for the challenge.
Hunting a return to form
The 27-year-old, who captained Jamaica Tallawahs in this year’s Caribbean Premier League, had a forgettable tournament.
He averaged 11.77 and had a strike rate of 86.88 for the 106 runs he made in 11 matches. He also produced one of the most expensive spells during the season with 0-48 from four overs with medium-pace.
Eyebrows were raised when Powell and his fellow countryman Oshane Thomas retained their spots in the West Indies T20 squad following their lacklustre performances in the CPL.
However, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector, Roger Harper, indicated they have not been exceptional performances by competitors to displace the Jamaica Tallawahs duo.
Responding to a question from News Room Sport on the importance of this tour for a return, Powell stated: “Yes definitely, it is an important tour not just to the West Indies team but also for me.”
He added, “Not scoring a lot of runs in CPL is behind me; it was a difficult competition for me but brighter things now with three T20 games that I am looking forward to and hopefully I can put my best foot forward with quality training sessions leading up to each game.”
Assessing more of the need for personal development, he indicated he wants to improve on his speed to become more of a ‘cutting-edge’ international all-rounder.
“I am batting all-rounder [but] in the last couple of years my bowling has fell off and it is something I have sat and thought about and it is just for me now to continue working on my bowling and strength all three aspects of my cricket.”
“To get the extra X-Factor as an international all-rounder, I have to bowl a bit faster…the slower balls and the variations will always come…I have to come up and develop ways of bowling a bit faster and I think that will give me the cutting edge as it regards international cricket and bowling.”
He further stated he is looking forward to playing again in front of fans.
The low rate of COVID-19 in New Zealand means that players will be able to interact with society following their managed 14-day quarantine, unlike on the England tour when the squad was confined to a bio-secure bubble.