Richards backs West Indies for World T20 triumph

West Indies legend Viv Richards has backed the team’s current crop of stars to mount a strong challenge for next year’s World Twenty20 in India.

The shortest form of the game has provided the Windies with their most impressive results in recent times, Darren Sammy’s side rising to second in the International Cricket Council’s world rankings.

Earlier in 2015 they claimed a T20 series win in South Africa, while they held reigning world champions Sri Lanka in a two-match contest.

west indies

Richards – who won two 50-over World Cups during his career – is confident Sammy’s men can repeat their success of 2012 and claim the title next year.

“I’ll back the West Indies any day [for T20 World Cup 2016],” he told Omnisport. “I think they have a phenomenal team.

“There is quite a wide range of individuals who are powerful enough to pick from.

“And, because of where it is being held in India, a lot of these guys have been gracing the Indian environment or the IPL [Indian Premier League] with their talent and been successful at it.

“So I guess the experience is there. There isn’t any particular need for them not to [win], but as I said, in a T20 environment, all options are open.”

Richards’ optimism is not shared by former West Indies Cricket Board member Baldath Mahabir, however, who fears for the team’s future in the Test arena.

Mahabir is concerned that a lack of success in the longest format will fail to inspire a new generation of Test players, as Richards and his legendary colleagues did in the 1970s and 80s.

“We have a passion for West Indies cricket, we have this emotional attachment to the West Indies brand,” Mahabir is quoted as saying by Fairfax Media.

“I really don’t know where that will go with the younger people, whether they will see West Indies as a force or if they would want to see the individual countries play. That is something that could change dramatically with the younger people coming into the game.

“Anybody who is under 20 years of age would not have the same emotive connection with West Indies cricket that we had because we knew we were beating the world. These people would have no idea of [Gordon] Greenidge, Richards, [Clive] Lloyd and how good they were.

“They would know a team that has taken a battering the last two decades.

“Let us move 10 years from now – do you think you would want to be associated with a brand like that? And branding is becoming much more important in the world of marketing and sport.

“I would not like to see it happen but there is a possibility.”

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