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In exclusive interviews with Chronicle Sports yesterday, both acknowledged that the bowling is the regional team’s main problem with Solomon pointing out that a specialist spinner should have been included at the expense of a fast bowler while Butcher opined that either Neil McGarrell or Gareth Breese should have got the nod ahead of fast bowler Corey Collymore.
According to Solomon, the 15-man squad would have been more balanced with the inclusion of a specialist spinner, while declining to name anyone. He posited that there was no need for including six fast bowlers despite all the talk about the conditions in South Africa.
Solomon also feels that part-time bowlers like Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels would not be effective on the hard surfaces, hence the need for the specialist spinner.
The former middle-order batsman, who is the current chairman of the Guyana senior selection panel, is however pleased with the batting; He alluded to the fact that the selectors hardly could have picked anyone else from the resources available.
While backing the West Indies to do well, Butcher described Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka as ‘The Big Three’ but said Pakistan and India cannot be written off.
Differing slightly with Solomon, Butcher said he would have gone for a utility player in either McGarrell or Breese as there weren’t any top class spinners around.
Butcher pointed out that he has been heartened by the recent performance of the West Indies team, particularly the batting and “once we perform to our full potential we have as good a chance as anybody else.”
Admitting that the regional bowling lacks the penetration as in previous years, Butcher said it’s going to take a lot of hard work from the present crop and also test how good the coach is. While saying the coach cannot make you play better, Butcher feels he (the coach) could make you play to the top of your potential.
The former West Indies middle-order batsman argued that the regional players have a lot to live up to in terms of our status in world cricket.
Butcher also welcomed the return of star batsman Brian Lara to the team, explaining that he has the ability to change matches and will no doubt influence the younger players.
Describing South Africa as the second best team overall in the world and the best bowling team in One-day cricket, Butcher said once the West Indies can get past them it will give their confidence a tremendous boost for the rest of the tournament. The two teams will clash in the opening match of the competition.
The opening match, Butcher pointed out, will be a real test for the West Indies and if they can emerge winners, their confidence level will be lifted for the rest of the World Cup.
The West Indies 15-man squad is currently undergoing a rigorous training camp in Antigua before departing for South Africa.
Butcher represented the West Indies in 44 Test matches, scoring 3 104 runs for an average of 43.11 runs per innings with an highest score of 209 not out against England. He also hit seven centuries and 16 half-centuries.
Solomon, on the other hand, played in 27 Test matches, scoring 1 326 runs, hitting one century and seven half-centuries.