Confident West Indies sets sight on World Cup triumph

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 23:19 [IST]
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St. John's: West Indies got down to fine-tuning on Tuesday for next month's World Cup; confident it could win its first One-day trophy since 1979.

"I think the players are in pretty good spirits coming off the tour of Asia where after the first couple of Test matches we certainly rebounded very well and played some good cricket right until the end to come back and win that One-day series against India," coach Roger Harper said. "I think it is no mean feat to win anything in India.

It isn't easy. And to come back from the defeats of the first two Tests showed remarkable character and spirit by the young players. "We carried on from there and played good cricket in Bangladesh and I think everyone is in pretty good spirits. Everyone is confident.

"We understand conditions in South Africa will be different. We have to adjust and to adapt to them and do it quickly. But I think we are ready for the challenge." But he said the team had made winning the World Cup its goal. "That's our ultimate objective," he said. "We have to take it one step at a time. I think that has to be our approach. We go there look to win each match and I think if we do that we'll give ourselves a very good chance of winning that trophy."

Captain Carl Hooper and manager Ricky Skerritt shared his feelings. West Indies comes up against South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Kenya and Bangladesh in its group. And it has set out to try and simulate conditions here in its final training sessions at the new Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua. Former Windies great Andy Roberts was assisting with the coaching of the bowlers and was advising the ground staff on the type of wickets to prepare to get them as close as possible to those in South Africa.

"The pitches in South Africa tend to have a quite a bit of bounce and they have very good carry and there is also a little bit of lateral movement," Harper said. The 15-man squad plus five reserves along with players from Antigua will play in two day/night practice matches on Wednesday and Sunday as its first two matches against South Africa and Sri Lanka will be day/night fixtures.

West Indies has been able to welcome back double world record holder Brian Lara from illness which sidelined him from the tours of India and Bangladesh. Lara was hospitalised with suspected hepatitis during the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka. The exact nature of his illness has not been revealed but he was last month cleared for inclusion in the West Indies' 15-man World Cup squad.

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