2019 ICC Cricket World Cup preview: West Indies
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On the eve of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup beginning on May 30 at The Oval, we showcase the contenders for this summer's cricketing crown on English and Welsh soil.

Here, we focus on the West Indies, a nation having been in the sport's doldrums during the noughties, but after T20 World Cup success in 2016 are now set to challenge once more to lift the trophy they previous held in the seventies, at the initiation of the competition.

Windies' World Cup squad

Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wicket-keeper), Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.

Will Holder's men return for their crown?

West Indian cricket in recent times had been through a period extensive doldrums in the late nineties and early years of the new century, having seen such a glory era in their sporting history involving the likes of Viv Richardson, Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose and Brian Lara.

Having somewhat the whipping boys of the cricketing fraternity for some time however, the nation that brought us calypso cricket could be on the verge of something very special for the West Indies in the coming years.

After T20 success on the global stage three years ago, that process could gather momentum in the country that still proudly boast to invented it, with a side who are capable of spoiling England's party once more, just as they did in India.

Snatching glory from Eoin Morgan's men and denying them retaining their 20-over title after Carlos Brathwaite's final over heroics at Eden Gardens - much to the chagrin of Ben Stokes to this day - the West Indies are assembling a side that have performed well on this side of the Atlantic before and might just surprise a few this summer.

Indeed, as the team that won the first two editions of the tournament held in England in 1975 and 1979 lifted by former skipper Clive Lloyd, could the West Indies spring a shock and regain their crown in 2019?

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Gun batter: Chris Gayle

In what will be his farewell ODI appearances this summer, Christopher Henry Gayle is one of only a handful of players in this World Cup who could drive his side into not only the semi-finals, but to go as far as lifting the trophy at Lords on Sunday 14 July.

Competing in his fifth World Cup in 2019, the 39-year-old will be looking to go out with a bang in England and Wales and though the oft cooler conditions may not favour the Kingstonian in this tournament, Gayle nonetheless has the bloody-minded ability to still win a game single-handedly.

Still opening the order in 50-over cricket, the man has often set up the West Indies with merciless power, but though heading toward his veteran years now will be vital to the Caribbean side progressing to the latter stages in England and Wales.

Gayle only hit a 36 in a warm-up game in Bristol earlier this week, but he remains one of the biggest and most destructive hitters in the game that can change the outcome of a contest in a single over.

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Bowling supremo: Andre Russell

Whilst Ashley Nurse and Jason Holder are likely to be amongst the wickets this summer, if there are overcast conditions at times during the World Cup, Andre Russell could have a massive impact at this tournament. 

A arguably the Windies' greatest proponent of swing bowling they have, the movement he can extract from what are likely to be flat wickets made for seam bowling, Russell can use his two spells in County cricket with Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire to great effect.

Now 31 and also an extremely capable batsman, his wickets will be no doubt the bigger factor for a side that if they adjust to their surroundings, Russell will play a big part - as he showed in the IPL earlier this year. 

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Star man: Shai Hope

Perhaps the rising star in the Caribbean in recent months has been Shai Hope, for his not only his electric batting but now having taken up the 'keeper's gloves behind the stumps with aplomb.

A former Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2017 for his impressive debut during that year's tour of England at test level, 25-year-old Hope is set to star this summer on turf he has already proved to be well within his ball park - literally.

With a batting average of 51.06 at ODI level, and 10 half-centuries - six of which he has converted into full tons - Hope is coming into the form of his life at precisely the right time. 

Scoring a career-best 170 earlier this month against Ireland in Dublin - amassing a record 365-run opening wicket stand with John Campbell - Hope also hit 101 against New Zealand only days ago at the County Ground. 

Whilst Gayle is ready to power the Windies to glory also, Hope is set to live up to his name this summer and could be part of something special for his nation.

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One to watch: Carlos Brathwaite

The West Indian X Factor could well be the man England know all too well about. Right-arm fast medium all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite will play at number six but could be just as effective a weapon as of his teammates further up the order. 

The Kolkata Knight Riders' man though inconsistent, is a player who cannot be underestimated and after that infamous final over in the T20 World Cup final at Eden Gardens in 2016 - denying England retaining their title in India - Brathwaite is a dangerous and unpredictable big-hitter down the order.

He also brings wickets with his varied technique and on a wicket that should suit in particular, it will very interesting to watch Brathwaite throughout the duration of the tournament.

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