King Eager to Lead Windies in International Cricket’s Return to Sabina Park Today

West Indies interim captain Brandon King (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Source: Jamaica Observer
As the West Indies look to sharpen their skills ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup next month, interim Captain Brandon King says they’ll seek to use Sabina Park, in his homeland, to their advantage as they take on South Africa in their first of three T20 Internationals, starting today at 2:00 pm.

The 14-man squad, led by Head Coach Daren Sammy, conducted its final training session on Wednesday morning at Sabina Park.

West Indies interim captain Brandon King (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

The Windies will be without several stars, including Captain Rovman Powell as well as all-rounder Andre Russell — both Jamaicans like King — due to their commitment to the Indian Premier League.

However, King says it will not affect their approach heading into the series.

“We have specific roles for each player and we’ve communicated that to them through the coach and myself so we know what we’d like to do in the World Cup,” he said. “The guys who are missing are also very experienced players. We’ve been playing series for the last two years or so [and] their roles wouldn’t have changed much, so they’ll fit in nicely when they come.”

It’s the first international match played in Kingston since August 2022 and King wants Jamaican fans to create an atmosphere to push them over the line.

“It couldn’t be scripted better,” he said. “My first opportunity to captain at home, I don’t feel any added pressure; I like to be very positive-thinking towards these things. It will be a great memory, looking back. We want to win the games for the fans, but it’s more excitement than pressure. We want as much support as possible. The last time we were here was against New Zealand; we had a decent turnout but we’d like even more this time — especially leading up to the World Cup. There’s an excitement around the Caribbean and we’d like to get some momentum going into [it].”

The Windies beat South Africa 2-1 in their series last year and King is confident they can repeat the feat.

“If you look at the players they have on paper, it’s a solid 11 so you have to be on top of your game,” he said. “It’s not a team where you can relax or anything. They also play a very aggressive, positive brand of cricket so we’re looking to exploit our home advantage in this series. Last time we were playing in their conditions and ended up winning so we should be even more positive playing at home.”

South Africa is also missing several key players selected for the World Cup, but interim Captain Rassie van der Dussen is optimistic they can beat what they consider a tough Windies team.

“We know they’re a world-class unit, especially in their conditions,” he said. “People in the Caribbean are passionate about their cricket so it’s a tough place to come and play. They’re a very proud team, and they look like they know what they’re about and how they want to play so it’s always great to come here. We’ve won here before. We won the last time so we’re going to try to win the series with one eye on the bigger picture, the World Cup.”

The Proteas will also have some Jamaican help with Donovan Miller acting as a coaching consultant for the series. Van der Dussen says he’ll be a key part of their success.

“Donovan [is] a local and understands the conditions so we’ll lean heavily on [him],” van der Dussen said. “Not a lot of guys have played here before, and one or two have played CPL [Caribbean Premier League] matches here so we’ll lean into him. I know him very well from my relationship with the leagues and so forth and he’s a very good thinker of the game. He’s very practical in the plans and solutions he offers so I think he’s going to be invaluable for us,” he said.

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