By Dinouk Colombage
Two of the key West Indies batsmen in the lead up to the World Cup, Shivanarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan are happy about their preparations. Despite the team being inexperienced these two are looked upon as the steadying hand for the two time world champions. The Sunday Leader caught up with them at a training session in Colombo.
Q: Ramnaresh, this will be your third World Cup, how do you feel going into this tournament?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) I am very excited; obviously being in two previous tournaments is useful. Our last World Cup was disappointing and so we are looking to put in a better performance. Our first aim is to make out of the group stages and into the quarter finals, we will then take it from there.
Q: You had been out of the team up until very recently, coming back against Sri Lanka you scored a few runs and looked comfortable. How do you feel about your preparations for the tournament?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) Preparation wise I am very happy. As you rightly said I have been out of the team for a while but came back and played pretty well. I am now looking to build on this momentum and continue my performances throughout the tournament. Of course it is important that we play well as a team also, individual performances will only get you so far.
Q: There have been past players who have criticised this team as not being as accomplished, on paper, as past teams. However, in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka the team played well, what do you have to say to these critics?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We as a team would obviously want to win more games than we have been, it is only then that we can silence the critics. We cannot control what people say about us, the only thing we can control is the way we play as a team and as individuals.
Q: The West Indies, unlike other nations, is a team made up of individual countries. Do you feel this affects your performances on the field?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) Honestly, I do not find it too difficult; many of us have played together from youth levels. Despite coming from different countries our friendships go a long way back through both the domestic and international tours. Of course we have different cultures and so it is important that we respect each other, but it is not difficult to gel together as a team.
Q: You two are the senior batsmen in the team, and the West Indies has been described as one of the younger teams. What role do you see yourselves playing within the team?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) I think it is important that we try to share our experience with the younger guys; many of them have played in the previous World Cup. It is up to both of us to help the younger guys come to terms with the conditions that will be awaiting them in the sub-continent.
Q: Shiv, you played in the 1996 World Cup which was in the Sub-continent. How do you feel coming back here?
A: (Shiv Chanderpaul) It is always a privilege to be playing in a World Cup, and playing in the Sub-continent is going to be a great experience for the entire team. We have been doing a lot of preparations and have played a lot in Sri Lanka in the recent few months. The conditions in India are fairly similar so hopefully we will do well when we go across.
Q: A trend of thought has arisen that unlike many other teams the West Indies have had an opportunity to test the conditions before choosing your final 15. Do you feel any added pressure?
A: (Shiv Chanderpaul) We have the best 15 out here, and now it is up to us to perform on the day and do well. We have been out here for a while and now it is up to us to go to India and continue performing.
Q: The previous tournament was no doubt a disappointment for you, especially being the home team. What are the targets for this World Cup?
A: (Shiv Chanderpaul) I think that our main target is to perform to the best of our abilities and if we do then the results will hopefully come our way.
Q: Having won the first two editions of the World Cup what are the realistic targets for the West Indies team for this tournament?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) Our first thing is to get out of the group stages and into the quarter finals, from then onwards it depends on how we play on the day. However, it is important for us to take it step by step and if we make the quarter finals then anything can happen.
Q: A player such as Kieron Pollard has shown his potential in domestic games, yet has failed to transfer this to the international stage. What is the role of the team in bringing out this talent?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) It depends on the senior players in helping him perform to his potential, we know his capability and so we have to support him.
Q: Traditionally the West Indies have produced great fast bowlers, playing in the sub-continent will you be looking to play to your strengths or allow the pitches dictate team selection?
A: (Ramnaresh Sarwan) I think it will depend on the opposition that we are playing against, we would have sat down and studied their strengths and weaknesses and make the decisions then. We also know that we will be playing day/night matches and so this would be a factor. I am sure the coach and the captain will come out with the best 15 on the day.
Q: The previous World Cup was criticised for being too long, this edition has been cut down to six weeks. How does a team keep its focus going over this period?
A: (Shiv Chanderpaul) Well we look to concentrate on what we can control; these are issues out of our hand. Along with being technically prepared you also have to be mentally ready to go out and get the job done. We won’t be looking to far ahead simply taking one game at a time.