Sir Andy Roberts’ World Cup experience as a player and coach is too vast not to be taken seriously. He was part of the formidable West Indies team for the first three World Cups (1975, 1979 and 1983) and was their coach in 1996 when they progressed to the last four despite losing to minnows Kenya. In the semi-final against Australia at Chandigarh, they pulled defeat from the jaws of victory.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum (right) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Pakistan’s Haris Sohail during the Napier ODI on February 3. (inset) Sir Andy Roberts Pic/Getty Images
Roberts stresses on the fact that there are no favourites for this year’s extravaganza in Australia and New Zealand and underlines the truism that the team that plays better on the day will win. The closest he comes to giving you his ‘favourite’ is talking about the team he feels is in form — New Zealand.
NZ hard to beat
“They are playing very good cricket and New Zealand is always hard to beat on their soil. But they too will have problems when they encounter the bounce in Australia,” he told mid-day from Antigua recently.
Roberts appears distraught about the West Indies’ recent performance when asked about his take on the Jason Holder-led squad picked by his former captain Clive Lloyd. “I have absolutely no idea if this is the best squad because they are not playing good cricket anyway,” said Roberts (64), who was knighted last year. The omission of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo made headlines but Roberts played the issue with a straight bat: “Who am I to question the judgment of the selectors? They are the ones who are watching the cricket.” India’s success, according to the wily former paceman, who was called Hit Man because his deliveries knocked down plenty of batsmen in the 1970s, depended on how the Indian batsmen handle the bounce of the Australian pitches.
Mind the bounce, India
“India will have to get accustomed to the bouncing ball. This is a problem,” he said. When reminded that the Australian pitches were called flat by some experts during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Roberts said: “I don’t think there will be flat wickets at the World Cup and I cannot understand how India lost wickets to a spinner like Nathan Lyon. The general standard of cricket has gone down.”