Favourites’ tag merited insists captain Sammy

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Captain Darren Sammy is confident his team will beat England in their three-match one-day international series.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy was taken aback by his team’s favourites tag today – but is nonetheless confident they can beat England in the NatWest Series.

The first of three matches will take place at the Rose Bowl today, and Sammy is already struggling to work out how to find a place in the team for each of his long list of six-hitters.

He is wise enough to know that will not prove his biggest problem against opponents who have lurched to extremes in one-day internationals in recent times, but have reserved their best performances for an unbeaten run of five series at home.

West Indies, by contrast, have not beaten a team ranked above them in an ODI series since Chris Gayle’s team won in England five years ago.

But the tourists have a welter of power-hitters, athletic fielders and bowling options here – and pushed Australia hard in their last series, drawn 2-2 in the Caribbean.

“I’ve not heard favourites and the West Indies in the same sentence for a long time,” said a surprised Sammy.

“England in England is always difficult. We’re not going to take it for granted.

“But we do believe as a team we should win this one-day series, and we’ve got to go out and play accordingly, smart and be consistent.”

As for the array of big-hitters, headed by Gayle, it seems Dwayne Smith – who smashed 96 against Middlesex in West Indies’ warm-up match at Lord’s – may be the unlucky man to miss out.

“It’s going to be a headache to select the first XI,” added Sammy.

“But whatever XI, we will be equally capable of winning the games. It’s still good to have all that firepower in one squad.”

Sammy is leading a generation of players who emerged at a time when subsequently disgraced businessman Allen Stanford was ploughing millions of dollars of his financial empire into Caribbean cricket.

Stanford has been jailed for 110 years for his fraudulent activities.

That will not deflect them from their mission to add limited-overs victory to honourable Test series defeat in England this summer.

“A lot of our cricketers will have a lot to say about Mr Stanford. He did revive the cricket in the Caribbean, and it’s just sad what became of it,” said Sammy.