West Indies have won 17 of 20 ODIs at the picturesque venue, which is nestled on St. Vincent’s southwest coast between the tiny ET Joshua airport and the Caribbean Sea.
“So far, St. Vincent has been a very good ground for us. As a West Indies team, we always get results in our favour here,” Sammy said. “For me personally, it’s a happy hunting ground. The last three games here, we won all three.”
But West Indies has gloomier, more recent history to overcome. The Caribbean men have not won an ODI against Australia since October 2006, losing 13 of 14 with one no-result. The two teams had their final preparations on Thursday at the match venue and the stage is set for an action-packed series-opener
“We’re playing Australia but we’re not going to play names, we’re just going to go out there and play good positive cricket and hopefully we could come out on top,” Sammy said. “We’ve got to believe we have it. We have some exciting players and we have depth in both batting and bowling, so we just have to go out there and execute properly.”
Sammy said key all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard would be crucial to his side’s chances. Pollard hit his maiden ODI century against India at Chennai last December, while Bravo is returning to the national side for the first time since last June.Bravo has been entrusted with the vice-captaincy, replacing Denesh Ramdin, who withdrew after fracturing his right thumb in the pre-series training camp.
“We have a very young team and, as one of the senior players, I have to step in and make my presence felt,” the 28-year-old Bravo said. “The fire is still blazing in me. I will be bringing the same level of enthusiasm and commitment that I always had. That is the only way I know how to play, by giving my all to the team.”
Australia coach Mickey Arthur is confident his team can continue its winning run, which culminated last week with victory in the triangular ODI finals against Sri Lanka.
“We’ve evolved the team over the last month, and we’re just looking for these guys to continue to put their hands up during the series to make sure we keep going in the right direction,” the South African said. “We’re very excited about the talent we have and a lot of that talent is going to get a lot of opportunities here.”
Arthur, Australia’s first foreign coach, pinpointed dynamic opener David Warner, spinner Xavier Doherty, fast bowler James Pattinson and new wicketkeeper Matthew Wade as some of the newer players that could shine in the series.
It is the first Caribbean visit for Doherty, Pattinson and Wade, while Warner was part of the team that reached the final of the World Twenty20 on these shores back in 2010. Australia captain Shane Watson, filling in as Michael Clarke recovers from a hamstring injury, said he is keen to bring his winning experiences to his leadership.
“For me, it’s just a really enjoyable time to be able to try to bring across the way that I love playing cricket and the way I’ve seen throughout my 10 years of playing and being around international cricket with one of the most dominant Australian sides that we have produced,” Watson said.
“I’ve learnt a lot about how I think the Australian team can play at their best. So I’m just really excited about being able to lead a team of very high quality and talented individuals, but also know exactly what is required to be able to win.”
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice-captain), Carlton Baugh, Tino Best, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels; Head Coach: Ottis Gibson.
Australia: Shane Watson (captain), David Warner, (vice-captain), George Bailey, Dan Christian, Xavier Doherty, Peter Forrest, Brad Haddin, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Nathan Lyon, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Matthew Wade. Head coach: Mickey Arthur.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Peter Nero.
TV umpire: Shavir Tarapore
Fourth official: Gregory Brathwaite
ICC Match referee: Andy Pycroft