MUMBAI: Aggressive opening batsman Chris Gayle usually hogs the headlines but West Indies’ advance to the World Twenty20 final against England has shown they are by no means a one-man band, according to batsman Lendl Simmons.
Gayle scored an unbeaten century in the Caribbean side’s first pool match against England, which set up their successful run chase of 183, reaching the target with 11 balls to spare in Mumbai. Since then, he has scored nine further runs.
He was dismissed for five in the semi-final against India before Simmons smashed 82 from 51 balls, while Andre Russell scored 43 from 20 to guide their side into Sunday’s showdown with Eoin Morgan’s team in Kolkata on Sunday.
“I think England will certainly be aware that it’s not a one-man show in this team,” Simmons told reporters.
“Chris Gayle didn’t get off but we still managed to get over the line and it was a big total.
“Even when he didn’t perform, we were still able to get up and fight and that shows a lot of character from our players.”
The team have needed to rely on their character and collective will after a turbulent few months in which they have been pilloried for their performances in test matches and one day internationals.
They have also been galvanised by yet another bitter pay dispute with their board, who less than two months ago threatened to send a second string side to the tournament in India unless the squad accepted their offer.
Since Gayle’s blistering start to the tournament, others have assumed the mantle of trying to chase down the totals they have been set in all five games.
Andre Fletcher scored 84 not out in their seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka, while Johnson Charles (32) and Marlon Samuels (43) saw them to a three-wicket win over South Africa.
“Every one of our players are match winners in our team,” Simmons added.
“We have a lot of batting power and I think we can chase any run total, we always back ourselves to chase totals.”
That confidence has also been evident in Morgan’s side after they comfortably accounted for New Zealand in the other semi-final, with man of the match Jason Roy epitomising the aggressive attitude that has filtered through the team.
That aggression, and confidence, made them a better outfit than the England team that won the World Twenty20 in 2010, according to the captain of that side, Paul Collingwood.
“In the past our line-up probably had one or two players that were real match-winners, this team is full of match-winners,” Collingwood told the ECB website.
“These guys are mentally different to what we used to be. ‘Who dares wins’ is pretty much the motto.
“We probably would think, ‘this is a big game’ and pull back a little bit. It seems to be the other way round for these guys, they seem to thrive on the excitement of the big stage.”